At last, we return to our regularly scheduled oven watching content.
I regret to inform everyone that Bake Off has not yet caved to my demands of having every week be Cake Week but as normal, we of course start off on the right foot.
There are an unlimited number of ways they could open this show and yet somehow they landed on the most terrifying one – Paul Hollywood with a mullet making baking innuendos that were all too viscerally sexual
thanks, I hate it and I will be consulting my injury lawyers to claim compensation for the psychic damage this entire opening song dealt me because Noel Fielding in a mullet winking to camera, awoke things within me
and by “awoke things within me.” I do mean “made me remember I once payed actual money to see Joe Dirt in a cinema.”. IT’S MONEY I’LL NEVER GET BACK AND I’M STILL FURIOUS ABOUT IT 20 YEARS LATER.
Of course, as every year, the tent is once again abuzz with 12 very passionate home bakers who I shall not call “the country’s best home bakers” because I think that’s undue pressure and goes against the whole Bake Off ethos.
If Amanda’s casting on this show doesn’t result in a prestige BBC crime drama about a wild swimming obsessed detective in 2023 called Dark Waters then quite frankly, the BBC needs some new commissioners. She’s also potentially the best chance we have of someone telling Matt Lucas to stop being so Matt Lucas.
God bless this man. With a baking resumé that extends only a year, it’s no wonder that Chigs spends a lot of his time at the back of the tent with a look in his eyes that I’ve only seen on a dog during bonfire night. Or a Meerkat trying to sell me car insurance.
Having been convinced to apply for the show by her sister in what I fully believe was probably a prosecco fuelled haze, Crystelle’s Bake Off journey could go either way but if she can find a way to showcase her talent at piping roses every week she could easily go to the end.
This year’s youngest baker and the first ever vegan baker on the show, which the internet has obvious treated with nothing but kindness and respect…
What George brings to the tent is that he’s the only baker who has ever managed to have any sort of a poker face while watching the technical challenge judging. He is a man of STEEL.
As an engineer you can probably safely bet on the fact Giuseppe has a metal ruler in every single one of his pockets and probably enough to share with everyone else. Everything he makes will be utterly precise. I think what we’re all waiting for is to see who cracks first and does the Italian Finger Thing at him – Noel, Matt or Paul.
Jairzeno’s only plan for the show is to work his way through every single tropical fruit he can, always combining it with chilli.
We stan? Oh, we stan. I don’t think the internet has ever collectively fallen in love with someone like they did the moment Jurgen referred to The Flintstones as “the text” like he was a particularly dry university lecturer. Also the trombone and the rabbit called Humphrey helped.
With a wardrobe that can only be described as “having been stolen from Noel Fielding himself”, the Paul Hollywood sticker collection and a tendency to speak entirely in quirky cross stitch bon mots – Lizzie is very much an Etsy store that has been granted the curse of sentience.
With her opening bake being needlessly religious and a very rough and ready showstopper, I do quite enjoy the distinctly Early Bake Off Series vibe that Maggie brings to the tent.
I am ill-advisedly putting all of my support behind Rochica. She seems very sweet and I like her clothes – which is what 70% of Bake Off is about.
With his love of classical music and the fact he works in his family’s model railway shop, Tom seemed like a sure fire Bake Off hit and then he had to go and ruin it all by protesting against a protest of gravity .
Just Roll With It
For their very first challenge the bakers were tasked with creating 12 decorative mini rolls and under penalty of death nobody was to mention Cadbury’s. And if you’re wondering how long it took Matt Lucas to accost someone with a song, it was 7 minutes and the poor recipient of The-Flintstone-theme-song-but-in-German was Jurgen who very much just stood there with the same look in his eyes as any parent who has had to sit through a child’s Away In a Manger solo in the junior school Nativity play
meanwhile, Amanda was coming to the realisation that at some point this is likely to happen to her
it’s not too late Amanda, SWIM FOR IT!
The look could have also been for the fact she realised that she was going head-to-head in a Battle of the Black Forest against actual Black Forest native, Jurgen. Also joining them in this tussle was Tom but I think everyone was a little less worried about him given the fact he was absolutely the Bard of the group and thus destined to be the first boot.
Amanda’s twist on the Black Forest Mini Roll was that she was going to be standing them upright and everyone very politely refrains from calling them Erect Mini Rolls
she described them as “soldiers” but all I see is a particularly rowdy choir who all got a bit drunk on the communion wine and are in the midst of a particularly rapturous rendition of Amazing Grace.
Her rolls lack a bit of a swirl and the cherry flavour is a little lost but Prue did comment that she loved the booze, a compliment she paid with the same intensity as The Bilbo Baggins Jump Scare
Prue is at this point just playing Bake Off Judging By Numbers, and yes is very much still trying to make “it’s worth the calories.” into a catchphrase despite the fact it’s been unanimously panned by the world at large.
Tom’s Black Forest Rolls had similar issues, although he had managed more of a swirl than Amanda, which is quite the miracle considering at one point he was just folding his roll
if Mary Berry had been on the scene she’d have been on this boxy roll with a merciless death-glare within seconds.
It is thus fair to say that Jurgen won the Battle of the Black Forest quite decisively even if his Black Forest Mini Rolls did maybe look a touch like they had been hit by a violent gale
the rolls are in fact so good that Paul Hollywood forces Jurgen to eat and judge his own cake like a particularly sadistic form of Foie Gras. Or Paul just thoroughly suspected the cake was laced with some sort of neurotoxin and was playing Jurgen’s bluff.
Jurgen wasn’t the only one trying to top their mini rolls with a chocolate silhouette as Maggie decided to get weirdly religious with her mini rolls and top them with angels. This didn’t quite go to plan as she ended up decapitating several of her angels for which she must now pay a penance. She did manage to get one out though, which did then make the orange segments on the rest of her mini rolls look like the grave markers of the poor beheaded archangel brethren
she had used only dark chocolate and no flour for her mini rolls which for reasons I cannot explain just feels like a very Catholic thing to do. So to get any joy from these mini rolls, you did have to like dark chocolate – luckily Prue and Paul are both fans of, in Prue’s words, “unadulterated chocolate.” *pointed look at Paul Hollywood*.
While Maggie forwent flour, Freya was of course going dairy and egg-free with her mini rolls, making her meringue with aquafaba and over the course of the challenge just became crushed under the weight of her own veganism
Having to try 15 recipes will do that to you, I feel exhausted if I have to go beyond page two of the Google search, I can’t imagine what reaching page 6 and having to sample a typo-strewn recipe from a long defunct blog must be like. But at least her rolls were pretty
How many different display cases do we think Freya has hiding in her hotel room?
Her lemon and raspberry flavours are very good but her cake sponge is unfortunately hefty. Chigs’s however fell on The Good Side of Chonky with his Strawberry and Cream Mini Rolls
his success being as much a surprise to him as everyone else.
While most of the bakers went with the standard chocolate flavours, Jairzeno decided that he was going to make Lime, Chilli and Passion Fruit Caramel Mini rolls – leaving a mass passion fruit grave in his wake
The judges very much liked the flavour of his mini rolls, which is kind of incredible given the intensity of the flavour combinations. The look of them however goes completely unacknowledged
God bless this congregation of weepy mini rolls and their tooth-cracking caramel hats.
It was George who had the biggest disaster with his presentation as his mini rolls just lacked any sort of stability whether it be physical or emotional – the result being 12 lumps of would-be-mini-rolls
and as a testament to their wonkiness, somehow they looked more like a mini roll once they had been partially dissected
I’m mostly impressed anyone managed to eat any of it with a fork.
Every year there is a contestant who tries very hard to give every single one of their bakes a theme, usually to the detriment of their flavours – we call this Frances Quinning It – and absolutely unsurprisingly it is Lizzie who seems to be taking up that mantle. Her mini rolls were themed around her family tradition of going to Chester Zoo for Christmas. Her plan being to make her Tahini Caramel Mini Rolls look like giraffes. The effect falling unfortunately short and looking more like someone had stood on the banana slug exhibit
they don’t go down particularly well and I think Lizzie and time keeping may prove to be mortal enemies for the 3 weeks she manages to scrape her way through.
On completely the opposite end of the specturm was Giuseppe who just sailed through the entire round with the sort of calm precision that only an engineer can manage and produced one of the most perfect looking bakes we’ve ever seen on the show
If you got Giuseppe in the office sweepstake, congratulations in advance.
His Almond and Orange Mini Rolls obviously go down a treat, he isn’t however subjected to eating and judging his own cake like this was Britain’s Next Top Toulouse Goose.
Crystelle also managed a collection of very pretty looking Chai Spiced Mini Rolls
their neatness coming to the detriment of the stool that she somehow covered in ganache
it’s certainly one way to get a soggy bottom.
Paul loves her spice mix in the mini rolls but claims they lack the all important interior swirl
I think the issue is more the fact the cream and sponge are just about the same colour. Prue however is a complete killjoy and deems them “too sweet” as though this wasn’t a challenge to make cakes.
Lastly we have Rochica whose twist on the challenge was to make her Carrot Cake Mini Rolls using spelt flour for her health conscious dad, whatever helps you sleep at night Mr. Rochica’s Dad. Unfortunately her sponge mixture was a touch overmixed but she had at least pulled off the swirl
so that’s like an 80% challenge success right there!
An Unofficial Mini Roll Ranking
- Giuseppe’s Well Engineered Mini Rolls
- Jurgen’s Black De-forested Mini Rolls
- Jairzeno’s Congregation of Weeping Tropical Mini Rolls
- Chigs’s Thicc Mini Rolls
- Crystelle’s Monochromatic Chai Mini Rolls
- Freya’s 16th Vegan Mini Roll Recipe
- Maggie’s Practically Catholic Mini Rolls
- Amanda’s Boozed-up Mini Roll Choir
- Rochica’s Very Healthy, She Promises, Mini Rolls
- Tom’s Folded Forest
- Lizzie’s Squashed Giraffes
- George’s Deflated Mini Rolls
A Matter of Malt Loaf and Death
I think we need an enquiry into the legality of making Malt Loaves a part of Cake Week to be honest, is this a sign that the cake well is running dry? Do they know it’d be fine to throw in a curveball and just have them all make a Victoria Sponge? Who remembers the first series anyway? Ed Kimber whomst?
With the challenge being to make Malt Loaves they did obviously realise that judging a series of mostly brown fruit-laden slices of BREAD wasn’t exactly going to be thrilling television, especially as all Prue and Paul could comment on was how chewy or unchewy the loaves were
So the bakers also had to make their own butter and a candied orange peel topping. The only person who realised that the candied peel was the very obvious key to winning was Maggie who promptly just made the absolute most and dumped it on top of the loaf
and THAT’S how you win The Bake Off.
Meanwhile the likes of Giuseppe and Lizzie tried to use their peel to parquet their loaves
Lizzie’s being the better received of the two due to the fact her loaf wasn’t 1 part loaf to every 3 parts fruit. As a consolation though, Giuseppe can at least know that he was the baker that looked most like their malt loaf
and that counts for something. I don’t know what yet, but it counts.
Amanda suffered the biggest misfortune with some all too visible pockets of flour in her loaf
really, she should have seen this disaster coming from a mile away the moment she proclaimed “I love malt loaf!” as the challenge began. Never tell The Baking Gods what you love, they will only ever take it from you. Which is maybe why Freya had such a successful time as she proved that yes, vegans can indeed cook non-vegan food. Who’d have thunk it 40 year old Brian on Facebook??
I think they were expecting more of a struggle in regards to the butter, but at this point we’ve seen so many people accidentally make butter on MasterChef that we could all probably make it in our sleep, although George did treat the mixer like it was filled with poisonous snakes
which might have been key to his buttery success, coming in third.
Meanwhile Lockdown Baking Newbie Chigs kind of just bumbled his way through the challenge, flinching every time he came to a new step in the recipe, waging a losing battle against the all consuming stickiness of treacle and almost having a complete breakdown over the speck of mixture on the skewer he stuck into his malt loaf
Someone please hug this rescue dog of a man and tell him everything is going to be alright.
While Chigs had a thoroughly miserable time trying to decode the vague recipe, Jurgen was absolutely thrilled with it
This is my new favourite Bake Off anecdote of all time, and I say that even though mere minutes later Lizzie recanted the tale of the time a blind ostrich abducted her as a child.
It turns out Jurgen’s wife wasn’t missing out on much as his malt loaf sat thoroughly in the middle of the pack, a sign you’re better off buying a Soreen loaf than spending your time frustratingly trying to cut prunes if there ever was one.
An Official Malt Loaf Ranking
- Maggie’s Candied Peel Bribery
- Freya’s Buttery Silver Medal
- George, Butter Tamer
- Lizzie’s Parqueted Loaf
- Tom’s Loaf That Later Counts For Nothing
- Jurgen’s Marital Apology Loaf
- Rochica’s Baby Loaf
- Crystelle’s Overbaked Malt Loaf
- Jairzeno’s Bready Loaf
- Giuseppe’s Dry Fruit Wall
- Chigs By Virtue of Some Unmixed Flour
- Amanda Hates Malt Loaf Now
Physics? Who Needs It!
In a flagrantly obvious attempt to get as much disaster footage for the promotional reels as possible, Cake Week’s Showstopper Challenge is for the bakers to create a cake that appears to be defying gravity, which did mean a large amount of this challenge hinged entirely on your access to a shed prior to the show with Giuseppe and Jurgen seemingly bringing in an entire hardware shop between the two of them like they were going head to head in The Great British DIY Off.
They were also meant to be theming the cake around a special memory, a specification that has become a little tired after the 7th time they’ve done this so I do somewhat applaud Freya for just saying “I like flowers. Here’s a cake of flowers.”
I also applaud her for managing to make a chocolate cake with kirsch cream and not have a single person call it a Black Forest Gateau, although if they had I imagine Jurgen and the European Union’s PGI team would have rushed the tent.
Her cake is very well received, I personally think it looks a little meagre and I wish the balanced flowerpot was maybe that little bit bigger to give the cake more of a wow factor. But her flower piping is amazing
and potentially only second to Crystelle who also made a floral showstopper
it’s a truly stunning looking cake and apparently the cinnamon sponge and vanilla buttercream tasted as good as the whole thing looked, so good in fact that Paul was visibly having to hold his hand back from giving her a handshake
hopefully the praises heaped upon her can relax Crystelle a little bit because I’m not sure my own heart can take much more of her constantly looking like a doe in flight-mode.
Jurgen too verged on the edge of a Hollywood Handshake with his Orange Chiffon Cake with Honey and Rose Buttercream – a trio of flavours that I think between them have knocked out an entire army of bakers, all that’s missing from The Four Flavours of The Apocalypse is Lavender. His cake was based on the first book he ever read completely in English, which happens to be Utopia by Thomas More, a book whose Wikipedia entry I can’t even bring myself to read. In order to put together the cake he had come armed with everything from The Dad Drawer – you know the one – and it involved a lot of screwing and many, many boards, to the point where I’m not entirely sure how much is cake and how much of it is just something he bought from IKEA
either way, it is EXCEPTIONAL. And his handling of the very powerful and divisive flavours is equally impressive, earning him both the title of “Flavour King” (that’s Geschmackskönig to you Mr. Hollywood) and a look of such intensely unfocused eroticism from Paul the likes of which I haven’t seen since Robert Pattinson played Edward Cullen
somewhere Lizzie seethes and strokes the lock of Paul’s hair she keeps in her locket.
Rather unsurprisingly, the go-to for a lot of the bakers was to design a cake that looked like a jug pouring something into a bowl – with Chigs, Lizzie and George all taking this route. None of them to the greatest deal of success as George just ran out of time for finessing his backgammon and coffee cake – if you know what the strange grey things are on the sideare , please, by all means write in and explain
I still don’t entirely believe backgammon is an actual game that exists or that anybody knows how to play, which I almost voiced on Twitter but after recently making a joke about eggs on a submarine and waking up to 15 men telling me you could freeze chicken eggs, I dared not tempt the same fate again. Also, don’t freeze your chicken eggs you weirdos.
While his Backgammon board might have just looked like a chopping board in war paint, the flavours of his lemon sponge and fig jam are at least both complimented.
Lizzie got similar feedback which is surprising given that the Bake Off franchise seems singlehandedly dedicated to discrediting the use of Yuzu in any way shape or form and with her using it in her sponges, it looked like it was all heading for a unanimous panning. However it was the fact the cake looked like a child’s drawing that got her dinged
that and the fact her bowl seems to have gone through some severe blunt force trauma
The last of our Jugging Trio is Chigs whose cake was inspired by how he took up baking during Lockdown and I honestly thought he was about to make a cake that looked like a Coronavirus illustration. Thankfully he had better judgement than that, I’m… a little surprised but very grateful.
His decision to make a pouring jug though did rapidly become more of an illustration of the concept of gravity than defying it
and in true Newbie Baking Style, the cake was of course flavoured with peanut butter and chocolate – it is a right of passage for any homebaker, we should all feel very privileged that we got to be a part of it with Chigs. And the judges very much like the flavour combination, if they didn’t I would have been forced to write them an angry letter penned entirely in the filling of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Also opting for a classic baking route was Maggie who was using a Victoria Sponge to make her NON-BRANDED CORNET ICE CREAM Cake that in the end looked more like a cupcake with a periscope
very Vigil, very trendy, very now.
The presentation is maybe a little lacking, but she might have had more time to spruce it up a bit if Paul would stop accosting her and forcing her to wear Prue’s glasses because the two of them both have grey hair
Paul Hollywood Leave Women Alone Challenge. Although if they want to stealthily just replace Prue with a bespectacled Maggie, I’m not going to write to OFCOM and complain about it… Or if they’re really struggling to tell the difference, we could just put the moustache back on Prue
in which case, replace her with Matt Berry as Steven Toast.
As for Maggie’s cake, Paul manages to describe it at once as “delicious” and “lacking in flavour.” WHICH IS IT PAUL, IT CAN’T BE BOTH. Unless you’re a tap water sommelier, in which case it is actively encouraged to be both.
Of course Jairzeno was pushing the boat out with his flavours. He was hoping to create an incredibly colourful cake from his Lime and Chilli Sponge and Guava buttercream
but sometimes even the best laid plans don’t come to fruition. Not that Jairzeno’s plans were even vaguely well laid considering he decided that rolling his cake like a swiss roll was a good idea. It was obviously not a good idea
despite having seen Paul Hollywood with a mullet and Prue Leith with a moustache not only 1 hour prior to this, somehow Jairzeno’s fingers becoming covered in that ever so slightly too fleshy coloured and gloopy buttercream is the most unsettling part of the episode.
It’s a miracle that he even got a cake by the end of the challenge, albeit, it was a cake that looked like it had been covered in ham
the saving grace of the cake and its hammy rash was the fact that Jairzeno’s flavours were at least good and Paul once again seems to speak in riddles, wrapped in enigmas sealed within a mahogany puzzle box as he says “all the elements are there but nothing else.” – that’s also just 90% of every horoscope that gets written about Capricorns and I feel VERY ATTACKED.
My personal favourite flavours came from Rochica, I am sucker for an apple and caramel cake, a truly elite baked good. Her plan was to create one (1) giant apple and then hang it from a tree-like structure with a hook, which the camera operators insisted on constantly framing in the foreground like a gallows
I was very worried that this was foreshadowing disaster, I know it would have in my very unsubtle and entirely cringe university screenplays. But Rochica manages to pull it off and was thrilled with the result
which does make the fact that the final result had exactly the same energy as Lisa Simpson’s “Floreda” costume that much funnier
I will protect Rochica at all costs, she is a perfect angel who is too good for us. She does of course get told that she needs to hone her finishing skills but her handling of flavours is extremely good.
While most of the bakers understood the antigravity brief, Tom apparently didn’t get the memo and was more or less just creating 3 tiered cake that maybe looked a bit wobbly
the design is apparently an ode to his love of classical music, personally all I’m seeing is sort of a Soviet King Dedede.
Paul and Prue did of course warn him that he had entirely missed the brief, not that there was much he could do at this point so had to continue onwards with his anti-antigravity cake. The result being akin to Jairzeno’s ham cake
I’m mostly upset that he didn’t even have the time to write “sorry” using the cannonballs which instead lie on the cake after what I imagine was a very polite firing. He doesn’t even get the saving grace of being complimented on his flavours as it’s far too strongly flavoured with almond, and there’s the fact he decided to dye his buttercream layers red
I suppose it at least means that carpet does indeed match the drapes.
There were also gravitational debates with Amanda’s cake due to the fact the top of it, the aspect which kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really defied gravity was made entirely out of Rice Krispies
her inspiration was her trip to Florida, so you’d think she might make an orange flavoured cake, or maybe something based on a cocktail. Nope, lemon and elderflower it is. It was at least Elderflower liqueur. Not that it was particularly appreciated given that booze fiend Prue even thought there was too much. I do think that visually, her cake was very impressive, it’s hard not be awestruck by a pair of incensed dolphins riding their tidal war machine towards a beach in all their vengeful cetacean rage
I for one welcome our new dolphin overlords.
Although, their world domination might have to wait given that the entire cake collapses, luckily for Amanda AFTER she had been mercilessly judged as a Rice Krispy cheater
gravity can be a cruel mistress.
Lastly we have Giuseppe and his almost too adorable Jack and the Beanstalk cake
it gets full marks for presentation, it does however fall just that little short in its cakey composition with both Paul and Prue thinking he needed an additional layer of jam in his cake to make it that little bit more moist, as it’s a little dry.
An Unofficial Antigravity Cake Ranking
- Everything’s Coming Up Crystelle
- Jurgen’s Bookish Flex
- Giuseppe’s Dry Beanstalk
- Freya Just Really Likes Flowers, yeah?
- Maggie’s Flavoursomely Flavourless Victoria Sponge
- Rochica and the Giant Apple
- George’s General War Board
- Lizzie’s Bludgeoned Bowl
- Chigs’s Demonstration of Gravity
- AMANDA IS A DIRTY RICE KRISPIE CHEATER
- Jairzeno’s Alarmingly Fleshy Bad Decisions
- Tom’s Gravitational Protest
Of course there has to be a Star Baker every week and really there was no other option that to give it the only monarch I respect, our Geschmackskönig, Jurgen and in true Bake Off tradition, he is made to phone his family who rather mortifyingly don’t bother picking up the phone
I WOULD HAVE PICKED IT UP, JURGEN. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume his wife and son were playing the trombone too loudly. Humphrey however has no excuse and is a very bad rabbit.
As someone must win, someone must be sent home and all too glaringly Tom and his Aarakocran bard energy are expelled from the tent
which is a narrow escape for Amanda and her dolphins.
and so, 11 bakers remain
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