Semifinals, Part Two



I would like to start by saying how disappointed I am that no one noticed (or if they did, no one commented on) my alligator Loki variant hiding among the pineapple sandwich cookies. It had little rosemary Loki horns and everything. I really thought that some among my audience would appreciate him, but alas.

Look how cute he was! See him hiding behind that pineapple?

Here's another shot to see him better. He did get a little crispy because I got distracted and neglected to take him out before the pineapples were done, as originally planned, but he's still freaking adorable, is he not?

ANYWAY. Back to Rosaline... I have been trying to avoid too many spoilers as I write these recipes because I know a few people who read this are reading the book and haven't finished yet, but this chapter, I will spoil a bit. If you don't want the spoilers, look at the pictures and come back for the commentary when you're caught up. 

It's semifinals! It's huge! Not just on Bake Expectations in Rosaline's life and with Alain and Harry and the Palmers and...  there's just so much going on here and there are, as I mentioned last post, so many things I want to talk about. Consent. Expectations that bi women are down for threesomes. Mental health. Anxiety. Rest stops. Burger King. Horlicks. Consent. Parental expectations. Jennifer Hallet. The complexities of relationships between parents and adult children. My mom's reaction to Rosaline's mom when she read the book. There's so much more, I'm sure, because there's just so much good stuff here. I punted last week and wrote about Cookbook Club so I feel like I have to pick something, anything, from the semi-final segment to talk about, but I don't know where to begin so I'm just going punt *super* hard and dive right into recipes. I'm the worst. I'm sorry. Feel free to reach out if you want to talk about any of the above (or anything I left out). I can, as my friends and family know, talk about this book (and this part in particular) ad nauseam

Alain- bearing his usual tray of trying too hard.

It's such a great line ("Finally, it was Alain- bearing his usual tray of trying too hard.") but it hurt my soul a little because, as I've repeatdly said, I like Alain's recipes and they're often the ones that I'm most excited to make. Also, one might consider baking about fifty recipes from a book, some of which require buying specialty equipment, trying too hard... So, yeah, it makes me feel a bit like a tool (or an utter ballsack?). 

Of course, I know Rosaline is thinking that particular line in part because Alain has been such an awful and unspeakable ass, so I know it's not actually directed at me. I would never try and force anyone to have a threesome with any of my exes. Flippancy and genuine thoughts on Alain's (reprehensible) character aside, his bakes are generally excellent and this week is no exception.

Coconut panna cotta with spiced pineapple 

I followed this recipe for coconut panna cotta, except that I wasn't willing to bother with an extra dish for an ice bath to cool it so I just poured the hot liquid into a bowl and whisked for a bit until it cooled enough to not be giving off steam and then whisked in the cream and sugar mixture and it came out FINE. If you want to do it properly it might be better, but I don/t see how as it was delightful.

I made these on vacation at my parents' house, and I even found these cute little Tupperware molds to chill them in instead of normal ramekins and I have to tell you it took GREAT effort and personal strength that I did not know I possessed to *not* steal the things and take them home with me for future panna cotta and/or other baking projects.

I am sorry, I completely neglected to take photographs of it chilling in the little containers, but really, you pour the mixture into containers to chill, so I think your imaginations can suffice. The containers look sort of like these ones I found on the internet, but round not sharp in the the little grooves, and fewer little grooves (and my mom's were all mixed sort of tropical colors not boring white).

Spiced Pineapple


  • About a half of a pineapple, cored and diced. 
  • About a quarter cup of sugar (or less, less is also good)
  • A cinnamon stick
  • A few cloves
  • A few allspice
  • A pinch of chili pepper (I used Aleppo pepper because I like it, but anything that will give just the tiniest hint of a kick)


  • Cook them in a pot with a little water until they're a lovely jammy consistency.
  • Remove the inedible bits and cool

Pineapple Mint Sherbet

I used this recipe, except instead of freezing a metal container and then stirring every so often, I used my ice cream maker to freeze it.

It is insanely easy and insanely tasty. 

I think it might have been improved by my continuing to puree the pineapple a little longer to be perfectly smooth. I left mine a little chunkier because, at the time, that seemed like a good idea, but the taste is heavenly. The hint of elderflower from the cordial and the slight but decadent creaminess of the mascarpone with the sharp pineapple and the hint of mint... It's really well-balanced and just delightful. Also it's been hot as all hell here, so it's been refreshing and delightful to eat AND didn't heat up my kitchen to make. I hate to give it to him, especially this week, but seriously... five stars.

Vanilla Bean and Pineapple Latice Tart

I used my preferred pie crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen (available here, as well as in several previous posts) and this recipe for the filling and assembly. I did nothing special or different, other than I chopped the pineapple a bit more finely than the recipe calls for, because I didn't read the recipe carefully before cutting up the pineapple (in my defense, this is the last one I made and I think the sixth or seventh pineapple I'd cut up and I was just in the habit of dicing). I don't think it makes a significant difference.

Apart from desperately needing to level my oven or rotate bakes, I think it came out quite nicely. It’s pretty. It tastes nice. The pineapple is sweet and sharp and very pineapple-y. I don’t know that the vanilla bean really adds much other than cost and some affected fanciness. It is nice but not something I'm raving about or likely to make again. I wish I still had some of that vanilla bean ice cream from the pudding post a few weeks ago, because I think that the rich creamy ice cream would balance the sharp, sweet pineapple nicely, and help highlight the vanilla. As it is, it is interesting, and pretty, and assuming the Bake Expectations ovens are level, I can see why judges might be impressed by it, especially when considering it along side the truly delightful panna cotta and sherbet.


Yellow Velvet Cake

I did not find a recipe for a yellow/pineapple velvet cake (there were some for lemon out there) so I made this shit up. Admittedly, I didn't look too hard for an existing recipe because I wanted to make this shit up.

I was hoping to make the yellow velvet cake sufficiently pineapple-y but honestly, I'm not sure I was successful with the pineapple infusion. Regardless, I do think it came out nicely yellow and velvety. The cake had a lovely crumb and nice flavor, so I'm okay with it. 

Yellow Velvet Cake


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup reduced pineapple juice (boil half a cup down to a quarter and cooled)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbs white vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 315 g flour
  • 300 g golden sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • yellow food coloring

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Grease and line two 9 inch cake pans.
  • Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely and scraping down the bowl between additions.
  • Add the vinegar, pineapple juice, and food coloring to the buttermilk.
  • Add the salt and baking soda to the flour.
  • Add the wet and dry ingredients, a third at a time, alternating wet and dry, until fully incorporated.
  • Split batter between the cake pans and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, or the cake springs back when touched.
  • Cool completely while you make the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting

I tried several times to make a pineapple cream cheese frosting because I was worried the yellow velvet wouldn't be pineapple enough for fulfilling the brief, but it was... not great. So, I'd say go with a standard cream cheese frosting and decorate with crumbled freeze-dried pineapple or chopped up candied or fresh pineapple. Something pineapple. 


  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3/4 to 1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted, to taste (most recipes call for more than I like)

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. 
  • Add the confectioners' sugar, a little at a time, mixing fully between each addition, and mix until smooth.
  • Frost the cake when completely smooth, and top with something pineapple and/or decorative.

Pineapple Fudge

I used this recipe except I cut it in half and I substituted the canned crushed pineapple with an equal volume of fresh, finely diced pineapple (and it's juices). It was quick, easy, and tasty... but I don't really have anything more to say about it. It did not make the earth move under my feet or challenge my conceptions of what kind of pineapple desserts I want. Basically, I would eat it if it were in front of me, and I would enjoy it, but I wouldn't make it again. 

Pina Colada Iced Lollies

I used this recipe, only with dark rum because I prefer it and because I didn't have any white rum and didn't feel like buying some. I also decided that since I was using dark rum and they wouldn't be perfectly white, to sub the brown sugar for white because it's tastier and I like that hint of molasses with the pineapple. In the end, however, I don't think it added anything so you might as well stick to the original recipe. 

The recipe is very easy (blend all the ingredients and freeze in an ice pop tray- it made 8 perfectly).  

I have to be honest, I wanted to like these more than I did. I love a pina colada. I love ice pops. I love that the British name is "ice lollies" instead of "ice pops." I mean "ice pops" is fine, and makes sense and all, but "ice lollies" also makes sense and is just kind of precious.

These ice lollies were... good, but not anything to write home about. Not winning a baking competition. Especially not if you've (even if justifiably) punched a fellow competitor. 

To be perfectly honest, Nora's bakes were more basic but they were also tastier, so weirdly, having baked and tasted all of these semi-final bakes, I can understand Jennifer Hallet's ability to justify keeping Nora better than I could when I, like Rosaline, was perhaps unreasonably furious at Harry being sent home. 

The truth is, I felt like even though I was supposed to be rooting for Rosaline, I was totally rooting for Harry to win since the moment we met him and when he was sent home I was devastated. I mean I get it. It's a novel and plot and whatever, but I wanted Harry to win. I wanted him to win and wipe the smug off Alain's stupid snooty little face. But alas, I suppose I can accept it and root for Rosaline Palmer to win a baking show in a book titled Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake. If I must.

And on that note... tune in soon for the FINALE!!! Hopefully next week but maybe a little longer as I haven't started baking them yet and it's all super complicated and I am absolutely terrified (but excited (but terrified)).


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