So it’s back and this time with the addition of emerging talent Matt Lucas, creator of The Baked Potato song AND ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING ELSE. Nope, no previous work. Just the Baked Potato Song.
Meet the Bakers:
A new batch of 12 Bakers, a lot of which have very similar names (FIRE THE CASTING DIRECTOR) so we might as well take the time to get to know them quickly:
A radiographer from London whose only goal on Bakeoff was to seemingly obliterate Paull Hollywood’s tastebuds and for that we can only stan.
She has fish. That was her defining moment. She has koi. I liked them. Can’t wait for her to bake a pie honouring them in week 4.
This year’s Resident HottieTM who is responsible for 80% of Twitter now being in Horny Jail and will no doubt have the Daily Mail breathing down her neck because she wears eyeliner and posted a bikini picture on Instagram in 2014.
Obligatory Single Parent and overall cinnamon roll whom we must protect at all costs.
A trainee accountant and extremely good badminton player, but maybe I just think that because the Olympics were cancelled and we have been very sports deprived this year. Not sure why, I – the girl who skipped PE classes, is suddenly mourning the dearth of sports but here we are nonetheless.
She is like if a robot watched every episode of Bake Off and created my perfect contestant – sure pure pent up rage, chaos and ideas. And yes, obviously she walks her cat. I am willing to go to war for her.
Spends a lot of time blowing his flute in the orchard apparently.
Apiarist and doting father who is going to do for pistachio what Chetna did for mango.
Another accountant hellbent on embarrassing her son and claims her speciality is French Patisserie which is a bold claim on episode one.
I know it’s not his fault that he looks like a Zach Galifianakis character but I will make it his problem.
Ominously billed as “an armoured sercurity guard” – Sura might want to watch out for him lest he go Full Terminator.
Linda will absolutely spend 5 weeks of the competition precariously circling the drain before being eliminated.
Battenbergs at Dawn
The first challenge the bakers have to contend with is the Battenberg – which is the best cake and I will not be accepting any other opinions on the matter ok. The premise is simple – the judges merely want a rectangular cake, covered in marzipan that when sliced reveals a clearly delineated pattern and they can choose whatever flavours and colours they like. Paul however wants them to keep it basic because of course The Vanilla Gorilla does.
As with any signature bake there are two routes you can go: The High Concept Road to Ruin or the K.I.S.S. Method – Keep It Simple Stupid. Unfortunately we only got two going for the former with Linda making her “amblance” [sic] that looked like it needed its own ambulance
And then Rowan going down in a glorious display of misplaced confidence and aesthetic pride and deciding to make an homage to Mozart’s Magic Flute (*eyes emoji*) by building a Batternberg Temple and covering it in a beautiful black and blue marzipan to represent the night sky and the battle between good and evil. Unfortunately this tribute went to Hell in a handbasket because his sponges were too big, didn’t cook in the middle and looked like pools at a new-age spa that Gwyneth Paltrow steams her vagina at:
In order to rectify this he whacked them in the microwave which is practically begging to be eliminated on this show. He was far from the only one to suffer from Sponge Related Mishaps, with Sura’s overflowing and making a desperate bid for freedom
Her excuse is that she never got to practice with the tin she was using because she couldn’t shill out the express delivery fees on Amazon so waited for 3 weeks for it arrived, and I absolutely believe she bitched and moaned about it the entire time – God bless. She’s opting for a classic lemon and orange flavour combo and despite her abject hatred of all things Battenberg, the word itself making her flinch like *REDACTED HARRY POTTER JOKE*, she delivers handsdown best Battenberg of the round. Her stiffest competition, and soon to be enemy, is Dave with his Espresso Martini (and I regret to inform you that Dave is An Expresso Wanker, RIP)
As well as Peter and Hermine with their Chocolate Orange Battenbergs – I’m sorry but I personally cannot condone the implementation of chocolate in a Battenberg so it is instant disqualification for all three of them – MY RECAP, MY RULES BABY. Hermine also made the decision to replace the eggs in her cake with marmalade which personally sounded many alarm bells in my mind, so congrats to her for pulling that off I guess.
On the more out-there edge of the spectrum in terms of flavours is Loriea who is just making the most forbidden cake she can possibly make with Creme Soda Syrup (it’s just vanilla but don’t tell her that), bubblegum flavouring and lurid blue food colouring
they were scraping Noel Fielding off the ceiling of the hotel all night. Her cake is an unmitigated disaster – the smell alone knocking Prue and Paul back a few feet – it was certainly one way of ensuring social distancing – and then is being so bone dry and cloying that nobody but Matt Lucas could bear to eat it. Laura was also opting for some childhood favourites with a raspberry ripple Battenberg that at several stages of its existence just looked like a severed limb
And despite this gory horror what she ended up with was a surprisingly pallid sponge that lacked colour and flavour. Lottie suffers a similar fate, except while her’s was a visual delight
it all tasted the same – but seeing as she had to restart her batter at one point the fact she managed to finish her quite complex design, I think she deserves a lot of kudos for it. Also going all out on his design is Marc-with-a-C whose cake looks like something you could buy from Blue Banana
Bittersweet Battenberg was always my favourite The Verve song. He over egged his rose water and was compared to Fanny Craddock, which even I think Fanny Craddock had slightly better aesthetic taste than that gaudy log. In fact all of Marc/Mark/Mak suffered very similar fates with their flavours being ever so slightly off – although I beg to differ with Paul on how ginger, orange and pistachio work together – I would have demolished Mak-with-a-K-but-no-R’s battenberg in a single sitting.
Sadly the judges don’t rank the cakes like they do on Sewing Bee but never mind because I’m going to do it anyway
- Sura’s Lemon and Orange
- Justice for Mak-with-a-K-but-no-R’s Pistachio Marzipan
- Lottie’s Rhubarb and Custard
- Mark-with-a-K’s Turkish Bizarre
- Laura’s Severed Limb Skin Graft
- Everyone That Used Chocolate
- Linda’s WAAAAAHmblance
- The Desolation of Mozart
- Loriea’s Entirely Inedible Party Fun Time Extravaganza.
Technically It’s Not Upside Down Anymore
Oh boy, strap in folks.
For the first technical of the series it is that Home Ec classic – the Pineapple Upside Down Cake that every parent dreads their child bringing home because I refuse to believe anyone would actually like it – and I spent most of my evening on Twitter defending the honour of Battenberg. The bakers must make 6 individual mini cakes that are perfectly caramelized, stand tall and are topped with a cherry and a pineapple and of course they are given very few measurements, absolutely no baking times and no illustrations – how bad could it be?
Immediately everyone sets off in a frenzy of caramel making – my personal favourite brand of Bake Off Contestant is the ones who cannot make a caramel to save their lives and end up costing the production £150 in burnt saucepans. This batch are all pretty good though, nobody’s goes right over the edge although Dave’s scorches, but more because of the absolute death glare he gives it
His caramel was not the only thing to receive this glare. *foreshadowing*.
The real trick to the task is just how much of the caramel to add to the bottom of the tin to ensure that your cake gets that sticky texture but doesn’t become overly sodden and stick to the bottom of it – the answer is much less than Linda puts in as she ends up scraping her cake out and desperately mushing it into something that you would only recognise as cake if you were told it was a cake
How much of this you can blame on the recipe and how much is just Linda not reading the guide is up for debate. Marc-with-a-C has similar issues but only because he forgot to grease his tin.
Most the issues people have is that they over did their caramel before it went into the oven so it burnt while the cake cooked – but also there’s the issue of the fact they are never given enough time for things to cool down so they end up piping cream onto bitch-hot caramel and their plates end up looking like a platter of drunk party goers
Little did we know this was the calm before the storm as when the bakers are offering their cakes to The Gingham Alter Sura swats Dave’s cakes right off of his plate and in episode 1 we already have FLOOR CAKE
Dave tries his absolute best to hide is RAGE and retreats to the back of the tent a whispers “it’s fine” through gritted teeth as Sura apologises profusely and insists there was a fly… Ok. He also all but shouts “accidents happen”
and it comes across extremely pointedly as he and Sura are now on opposite ends of the tent and absolutely not talking to one another. And to think , they’re all living in the same hotel. Absolute scenes at the continental breakfast the next morning as Dave tips the croissants to the floor.
The best bit of all is that Sura then has to sit through the judging as her cakes are praised for their near perfection, going on to win the round and all the while looking like this:
The final ranking of the technical is:
It’s a Bust Up
Going into the Showstopper the people really needing to pull something out of the bag are Linda and Loriea while Peter and Sura find themselves locked into a battle for the acclaim of Star Baker – Sura seems as bemused by her success as everyone else ❤
The final challenge is to make a fully to-scale bust of a celebrity out of cake – the show officially reaching the point of being closer to Nailed It! than to The Great British Bakeoff – how I long for the days of Make a Three Tiered Cake. That being said, this round goes down in the television classics for giving us such gems as Melted Duplo Figure Freddie Mercury, Stoner Milhouse van Houten, David Attenborough – The Depression Years and Lupita Nyong’OHNO.
Wat absolutely did not help this round is the fact the illustrations by Tom Hove are so wonderfully beautiful:
and then this is the end result:
Poor Lupita Nyong’o – Hermine better be writing her a very long apology letter. The best part of Hermine making a Lupita cake was Paul eagerly shouting “Black Panther!” and then racking his brain for another of her films and coming up with absolutely nothing. The safest bet for this round was doing someone that was dead – the likeness somewhat matters less and their iconic features are more easily recognisable – Lupita, while beautiful and an angel on our hell of an earth, doesn’t have a defining feature, Hermine might disagree
But with Marie Antoinette (of course Rowan did a Marie Antoinette cake) – you just need big hair, rouged cheeks and bloody neck and you’re sorted – the only risk you run is of her looking more like Beethoven than Marie Antoinette, which I’m not sure he entirely succeeded at
In the same vein we had a Charles Darwin, again big beard, marble bust and you’re away with the resemblance – although Mark-with-a-K’s Darwin did look like he was slipping away because he lost one of his sponges in the process of cooling it down. Others hoping to pull through on extremely recognisable iconography were Laura making a Freddie Mercury out of elderflower and lemon sponge and while her fondant work on the jacket is amazing, the actual cake side of it went downhill so rapidly she had to rope in Sura to help her which given everything that previously happened was a brave choice, and one that did not entirely pay off and together they lobotomised poor Freddie:
Marc-with-a-C opted for David Bowie, a man so slender you’d think it would require hardly any cake at all AND YET
I spent most of the time imagining how the lightening bolt was going to end up looking like a horrific burn injury that I had not anticipated David Bowie having a goiter. At least it’s surprising if nothing else. Linda claims she was making Bob Marley but I think the rum got to her and what we ended up with was some sort of octopus
Nobody mention the erotic octopus discourse. Shout out to her for going with pastel colours and avoiding a possibly racially charged minstrel cake.
Going much more modern was Lottie with her Louis Theroux cake which she was insisting on building up from a skull mould in the most macabre display of baking we’ve seen since Rahul’s Congealed Blood Melting Dessert. Also opting for current celebs were Hermine and the aforementioned Lupita, Mak-with-a-K-but-no-R with Bill Bryson of all people – and apparently he has spent weeks pouring over photographs of him and his wife has absolutely not reason to be concerned, promise. Sura created a rather good likeness of both David Attenborough and Judi Dench so take your pick as to who it is
Who then, like most of us in 2020, proceeded to give up on life as soon as the bakers left the tent
Meaning Sura had to run back in a chaotic fashion that only Sura can manage and bring David Attenborough out of his melancholic slump as Linda shouted “USE SOMETHING HEAVY TO BALANCE HIM!” and Mark-with-a-K sat with an eager looking David and cackled at her
Finding a unique loophole in the challenge was Peter who decided that in order to make as little work for himself as possible he would do Chris Hoy, putting him in his racing helmet thereby eliminating the need to do hair or eyes
The fact they then spent a significant amount of time lauding him for doing significantly less work than anyone else and having only marginally more success was truly bizarre to me
Then we head firmly into obscurity with Dave’s tribute to Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge which turned out to be the most terrifying thing you’ve ever seen
I demand compensation for the emotional damage this stoner Milhouse van Houten has caused me. Joining him is Loriea wanting to create a tribute to Jamaican poet Miss Lou and if you didn’t know who she was before this, you absolutely have less idea who she is now
Loriea sealed her fate the moment Paul bit into that chilli and ginger cake and wheezed like he had just taken a mouthful of sawdust and tobasco sauce.
A Showstopper Ranking:
- Rowan’s Pre-Guillotine Marie Antoinette
- Judi Dench / David Attenborough
- The Chris Hoy Loophole
- Lottie’s Louis Theroux Death Mask
- Mak-with-a-K-but-no-R’s Bill Bryson Restraining Order
- Mark-with-a-K’s Charles Darwin Evolutionary Mishap
- Dave’s Sleep Paralysis Demon
- Lobotomised Freddie Mercury
- Hermine’s Lupita Nyong’OHNO
- David Bowie’s Thyroid Condition
- Loriea’s Miss Tiggy Winkle
- Linda’s Deepsea Creature
In the end Peter is granted Star Baker and sadly Loriea is sent home despite Linda being RIGHT THERE. I think she’ll go down in the Bake Off Pantheon of Bonkers Flavour Decisions – honestly they should have kept her just for insanity she could have wrought in biscuit week.
Prue battles a giant white spider!