Week 6 and the baking battle is heating up and there’s a brand new theme this week on Bake Off – botanicals – all things herby, citrusy and flowery.
Steve Jobs famously said “creativity is just connecting things”. Baking is a great example of combinational creativity and whilst ingredients go in and out of fashion (yuzu mayo anyone?) for the technical challenge the team get a basic recipe, same time-frame, same ingredients and instructions – just like dealing with the same brief. This week the bakers had to make herb fougasse – a leaf shaped bread. The results show how even a simple instruction like ‘make a leaf’ can be open to interpretation and with exactly the same resources some work out and others don’t.
This week’s signature challenge was a citrus meringue pie showcasing the bakers’ personality, creative thinking and baking ability to make a classic dish, with their own twist.
Tip: when it comes to creative thinking go beyond the first and most obvious ideas – there were two grapefruit pies and two lime and coconut pies making stand out a bit tricky for those 4 bakers (nearly half the room). If you can get there easily so can the completion.
The showstopper bake is a far more complex task where bakers show off their depth of skill and talent as well as their creativity. This is the baker’s equivalent of ‘blue sky’ thinking but there are still some constraints – the botanical theme, the time allowed and the equipment they all have in the kitchen. This week’s offers included a floral tea cake, Elderflower cake, a three-tiered ombre cake and a rule-breaking 4-tier (we asked for 2) 4-seasons cake from Candice.
Tip: the creative thinking process here is just like a business pitch – you have to weigh up whether you want to ‘dare’ to do something different that’s not traditional – like ‘naked icing’ a cake leaving bits on show (Paul wasn’t a fan) or heaven forbid going against the grain (or the Berry) as she sighed, “they’re nearly all using blowtorch, and to me meringue topping is best put in the oven.”
There are doubts about whether it’s going to work out, last minute panics, consigning stuff to the bin and having to produce the final result under time pressure. Then there’s the dreaded moment of reckoning – the judging. Just like pitching – the bakers don’t put any less effort in on the day to come second, or third, or fourth.
The show also reflects the aspects of planning, practice and discipline – all essential ingredients for great creative thinking in business – particularly if you want the consistency of a perfect bake (idea) every time. Happy baking!
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