Week 6 Puddings Recap: The Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge

Last season, admittedly, we were a little hesitant about the, well, Britishness of some of these challenges. “They don’t want to use all that suet, do they?” we thought. “And where do you get treacle, anyway?”

Wonder no more, friends; in Week 6, this pud’s for YOU!

In the spirit of The Great British Baking Show,  The Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge asked our bakers to select just one of the three pudding challenges.

Before we get started: If you have not watched this episode yet, SPOILER ALERT!

And don’t forget to read to the bottom to find out who our six featured Wisconsin bakers are!

All Season 5 contestants pose in front of the tent

Consider me properly chastised. We knew you would love trying something new. This season’s “Puddings” episode, then, offered just the thing for anyone who wanted to stretch their capabilities – and their dough.

As Wisconsin’s own Team Shlimder told us, “We would have put more Wisconsin twist into this bake if we knew the recipe. Next time we’ll be willing to stretch a bit and color outside the lines.”

First, though, let’s check in with our remaining bakers on the telly!

SIGNATURE BAKE: SPONGE PUDDINGS

Make six each of two different sponges, each with their own sauce.

This week, Mel is “hot, spongy, and saucy with a little bit of bite and ooze” – wait, that’s the sponge pudding! Oops.

The rollercoaster ride of this episode started inching up that first hill right from the get-go. The judges found little to agree on, and while some contestants showed finesse with one set of flavors, their second offerings weren’t as well-done.

Case in point: John created the judges’ favorites, with his tea-soaked dates, but his raspberry and chocolate puds strike Paul as “chewing on a piece of card.” Yowch.

A frustrated John shakes his head

And that’s just the first of several painful moments for John today.

The Disasters: Here I thought Spotted Dick was the only giggle-worthy name this week (more on that later): James’ too-chewy clootie dumplings didn’t form a skin as expected, which took the shine off of his lovely banana-clove puds.

The Highlight: “These look impressive, actually,” says Paul to Cathryn. Well, did you come in expecting failure? Certainly not from Cathryn, who underpromises on her considerable talent. Today’s chocolate walnut whip puddings and elderflower sponges topped with clotted cream rice pudding required a real balancing act to coordinate, but they turned out unique and delicious.

The Takeaway: But does your pud “wet the finger”?

HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:

16 sponge puddings emerged triumphant. Or something close to it. Truthfully, the combination of breadcrumbs and boiling might seem a little odd to us Yanks, but tell your guests about the little pick-me-up in the sauce and they’ll be intrigued.

Let’s be real, here: how many of us have only seen Spotted Dick as a can that makes you laugh when you see it on the shelf? *raises hand*

Stephanie displays her steamed Spotted Dick pudding on blue and white china.Stephanie, of Stevens Point, had displayed one such can in her kitchen for more than a decade – but never actually made one from scratch. “I always had the impression it would be difficult, but found it quite easy,” she says. “Because I didn’t have a proper mold, I found one at a local antique shop.”

Ruth's mini puddings are filled with berries and chocolate.

“Everything tasted really good and my family loved the little cakes, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually accomplish making an actual British pudding,” writes Ruth, from Oshkosh, of her Vanilla/Blueberry and Chocolate/Raspberry puddings. “I’ve never eaten a traditional British pudding… never made one… never seen one in person. I think that was my problem: I didn’t know what to compare it to in American cooking.”

We could probably say the same about those so-called “American pies” the contestants made last week, Ruth. Let’s just call it even.

TECHNICAL: QUEEN OF PUDDINGS

Bake a Queen of Puddings: three distinct layers of custard, jam and chewy meringue on top, all visible through a clear dish.

This is actually a genius move by the producers, since apparently many of the ACTUAL British contestants aren’t particularly familiar with this, either! It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma… or a jammy sandwich wrapped in a meringue wrapped in a trifle. Or something.

The Disasters: Can’t get much more lost than poor Ryan, who confesses he has never made custard OR jam.

The Highlight: As we mentioned in a previous week, “there are some advantages to being older,” says Brendan, Mister Sheer Perfection. “You learn when the setting point of jam is just right.”

The Takeaway: Look, Mary: “make the jam” is not exactly the clearest of instructions.

HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:

An impressive 23 Queens of Pudding made their regal way out of the ovens this week – not bad for a bake most of our participants had never heard of!

Barbie's Queen of Puddings features piped peaks of meringue

“It came as no surprise to me that I prefer the American-style pudding,” writes Barbie, from Madison.Mary Berry’s recipe says to serve immediately, which made the bottom layer quite like a bunch of bread crumbs ruining a good custard. After waiting for it to set up in the fridge, I found the texture to be much more palatable, yet I will probably not make this dessert again.”

Maddie's Queen of Puddings shows off its peaked meringue and crumb layer.

But Maddie, from Madison, had a lot of fun on this “baking adventure,” whipping up a Wisconsin Summer Queen of Puddings that sang with bright flavors of lemon and rhubarb. “This bake encouraged me to ‘trust my gut’ – I didn’t know how to tell if the pudding was done, or how to tell when the meringue was done since it wasn’t browning much. Luckily, both turned out great! The pudding was set but still soft, and the meringue was crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.”

SHOWSTOPPER: STRUDEL

Construct a large strudel in three and a half hours, with either sweet or savory filling.

Mary BUYS this dough? I get that it’s hard, but is nothing sacred???Fasten your seatbelts, viewers. It’s going to be a bumpy bake.

The Disasters: Oh, heavens. Where do we begin? First there’s Paul’s little demo, after which Sarah-Jane suggests the technique to Cathryn. To quote Free to Be: You and Me, “some kind of help is the kind of help we all can do without.”

Cathryn's dough goes whooosh onto the green turf.A beleaguered Sarah-Jane tries to help Cathryn salvage it, but stouthearted Cathryn states that “I’m not serving Mary Berry green carpet!”

And now we come to the Finger Incident.

John thought he might display a bit of that stiff upper lip and keep going with an extra glove on (all of the food safety pros are probably cringing at that), but wooooooooo!  here comes the dizziness. I would NOT want to operate a KitchenAid like that.

Thank goodness for undercover medic Danny… whose own star may have dimmed a bit as a result.

The Highlight: Experience, Brendan, yada yada yada. His truly hands-on technique paid off; his latticework was quite lovely, with flavors to match.

The Takeaway: Let’s just be glad that everyone came out alive. Moving on!

HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID: 

25 entries chose to go for the deceptively difficult strudel, maybe because of the nods to German heritage that many Wisconsinites share. Sure enough, the classic apple-raisin-walnut combination was quite popular, including one family inspired by The Sound of Music. 

Team dettweiler Family displays their four strudels around a family motto in German

Team Dettweiler Family, from New Franken, tried both methods of stretching the dough and reported back. FOR SCIENCE! “Mr. Hollywood will be glad to know the two strudels with the vengeance technique were certainly stronger and flakier in work-ability and result.”

Joshua's spinach and sausage strudelStrudel-making was also a family affair for Joshua, of DePere, who mixed two recipes for a delicious Spinach and Sausage Strudel. While watching the episode for inspiration, he writes, “my pregnant wife almost leapt from her chair saying, ‘That! The baby wants that!’ So the challenge was picked by pregnancy craving – satisfied by this bake. I was quite pleased to see that you actually can read through the strudel dough after it is stretched! This was a lot of fun.”

THE RESULTS!

Star Baker: Brendan, you clever sausage! The Bake-inator continues to hustle his way towards the finale.

But we also must give a special shoutout to Danny. Dear, dear Danny, who worked so hard this week and probably got into baking as a nice respite from her job as an ICU physician, but found herself administering field medicine as John’s finger tried its best to eliminate its owner.

Kicked Out of the Tent: Nobody! It’s a GBBS first!

Still, this means we’ll face the tidy British equivalent of a bloodbath next week: a double elimination. Who knew this quiet little programme could be such a rollercoaster ride? “A marquee in the middle of a field,” says Sarah-Jane. “It’s mental.”

Our Six Featured Wisconsin Bakers:

Veronica's Wisconspin Strudel features a golden turmeric crust and green spinach filling for an homage to the Packers.

Veronica, of Chicago, created a savory Wisconspin (ach!) Strudel that nearly (Lambeau?) leaps off the page with its green and gold colors. We hope it was worth the unplanned turmeric dyeing that her kitchen received, but anything with such a tasty-looking spinach and cheese filling would score a touchdown with us. (Especially from someone living in the middle of Bears country. Veronica, we salute you!)

Jill's apple strudel has a golden, flaky crust.Jill, in Hollandale, loves preserving fruits from her family’s hobby farm. She let the apples dictate the recipe for her Orchard Apple Cinnamon and Cranberry Almond Strudel, adding cranberries and almonds for more color and cutting back on sugar and cinnamon to give a slightly more savory flavor that lets the tartness of the fruit come through. “I wasn’t particularly interested in innovating with the design, but its simplicity and the ingredients make it the most Midwestern of all Danishes or puddings.”

Piped meringue with a flamed top sits atop the First Lady of Puddings.Vanessa, of Waunakee, gave a real American twist to her Queen of Puddings recipe by starting with a chocolate base, leading to a delicious approximation of peanut butter S’mores she calls the First Lady of Puddings. “Also, my husband had a brand new blow torch for using in the garage, and that’s what we used to toast the marshmallows. It worked great!” God bless America!

Cranberries surround the glass-dish Hail to Wisconsin Cranberry Queen of Puddings

Maureen, of Arkdale, used a cranberry jam in the middle of a Mary Berry recipe to create her Hail to Wisconsin Cranberry Queen of Puddings. She took the Britishness to another level by baking a classic Sally Lunn bread for the crumbs, similar to a French brioche.  She also relied on Mary’s advice to beat the meringues longer than planned. Sure enough, they came out “like a cloud.”

Two sponge puddings by Joelle

In form and flavor, Joelle’s From Madison to Shanghai Sponge Puddings reflect a major life change – coming up quickly! She tried steaming as preparation for the possible lack of an oven in her new home. “I’m happy that I started figuring out other ways to bake, so that I can continue my compulsion to feed people (so I can make new friends!) once I arrive in Shanghai.”

Sugarbush Pudding Delights with vanilla ice creamLara and Tom, of Sheboygan, created Sugarbush Pudding Delights, a lovely union of both sides of the pond. Using homemade maple syrup – “cooked in the family sugar shack this past spring!” – instead of golden syrup, they also added crushed walnuts for a bit of crunch and texture. Add in some Wisconsin ingenuity, and the puds slipped out nicely from their makeshift ramekins… a.k.a. a muffin tin.

We hope you will join us for our Week 7 Challenge: Sweet Dough! And remember: anyone looking for inspiration from the world of doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, brioche or coffee cake can check out the next episode of The Great British Baking Show online now.

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