Bake Off 2022, Cake Week: Kenneth Grahame Elder Gods

Maybe we’re gonna be ok after all.

Beware, Mr. Froggington lurks in these parts.

FINALLY! Something to recap! I was about to cave and start recapping whatever insane level of Royals Discourse we had reached – which if you’re curious is people invoking The Divine Right of Kings in the year of our lord 2022, so it’s something of a relief that Bake Off has appeared to cleanse the timeline. Or as much as it can with opening skits like this

and curious to discover that Noel Fielding doing Princess Leia cosplay basically results in Florence Welch.

With a new series of Bake Off brings a whole new bunch of bakers to put all of our faith in humanity upon the shoulders of, no pressure guys

and they’ve already gone buckwild in Pet Wars with Rebs taking an early lead with 3 dogs who refuse to meaningfully commit themselves to film like they’re the cryptids of Northern Ireland

however Janusz has a sausage dog called Nigel so who’s really winning this battle?

It’s simple Dog Maths.

Burn The Sandwich!

For their very first Signature Challenge the bakers were tasked with making 12 identical miniature sandwich cakes – and despite the emphasis being put on MINIATURE, Maxy took the Patisserie Valerie approach to miniature

Maxy by name, maxi by nature.

She was at least saved by the fact they do look quite pretty and she was using the tried and tested Bake Off favourite that is Mango and Passionfruit. Which would in most series have probably been the most tropical flavours going, however Dawn was only a few steps away from making a Biryani

but despite the lime, coconut and tamarind flavours, she had gone for a very classic looking aesthetic for her sandwich cakes

the cakes were a little uneven but her fondant daffodils were really pretty, which is both not a surprise because she does a lot of sugar sculpting, but also a surprise because her sugar sculptures all look a bit like Kenneth Grahame Elder Gods

Mr. Frogginton is far too real and can probably hurt you.

But before you can get too excited by Dawn’s future fondant nightmares, she did have to confess to being a project manager for Boris Johnson

she didn’t say which project, so perhaps she was just in charge of wallpapering. And subsequent dewallpapering…

you’d have to be.

Floral inspiration was quite popular amongst the bakers, but while most of them were going for spring or romance as their goal, Abdul was making a sombre cactus graveyard that would rival the pet cemetary at Longleat as an apology to all the cacti he’d inadvertently killed over the years – Rest in Prickles, Spikey VI

The judges were very taken with his presentation as well as his raspberry and hazelnut flavours so I think the pantheon of cacti gods shall smile upon his cacticomb.

While Abdul prepared his cacti for their journey across The Styx with Paddington Bear, Sandro was making his sandwich cakes as an ode to his partner-who-is-sadly-not-me

The roses are so well made, I’m just waiting to find out that in his spare time he not only goes to the gym twice a day (everyone has to have something that makes them insufferable, he has his bi-daily gym, Bake Off has Matt Lucas and I have this blog) but also makes truly cursed sugar sculptures.
But god bless him for how surprised he looked every time Paul and Prue paid him a compliment

they really did enjoy his red wine ganache, which is something I’ve never seen or heard of people doing, but I think we can all get on board with finding new ways to enjoy red wine – ganache, jelly, sangria, an IV bag to go for Prue.

Sandro wasn’t the only one going for the boozy approach, this is after all Prue’s 6th series of Bake Off and if we’ve learned one thing it’s that the quickest way to her heart is the aforementioned IV bag of wine

and while Prue honed in on Janusz’s booze-soaked cherries like Syabira sniping her own boyfriend’s head

Paul bumbled over to mostly just shout “POLISH BLACK FOREST!” in Janusz’s face and I truly do not have the time or patience to fully unpack everything wrong with that statement right now, but power to Janusz for not self-combusting from the sheer force of keeping the “WUZETKA!” scream stuck in his throat

and while Janusz could have just relied on the fact there was enough booze in his cake to send a horse to sleep, his cakes were STUNNING

so at least Paul had something to appreciate because apparently they were too booze-soaked for him – not that anyone took notice of this critique by the time the Showstopper Challenge came around and everyone was drenching their cakes in so much booze they’d upped the fire risk of the tent tenfold.

Booze wasn’t the only battlefield as both Kevin and Maisam were going for Pistachio Sponges, a showdown that ended in something of a draw as Kevin clearly won on aesthetics

albeit mostly on account of Maisam’s cakes looking a bit like someone had pulverised The Clangers

but she did have the better sponge as Paul and Prue both found Kevin’s sponge to be a little bit too nut-filled, which Kevin did seem to take as a slight against his good name and only proceeded to double down on the nuttiness of his sponges.

Maisam does also deserve a lot of praise for managed to salvage her Italian Buttercream which had curdled. Perhaps less praise is deserved for the fact she couldn’t offer any of this sage wisdom to poor Will who was drowning in curdled buttercream by the time it had split for the second time. It’s always the sweet, quiet ones.

So, we’ve established that Will was having a truly miserable time and I don’t think anything quite sums up the experience more than him bent over double on his stool next to his distinctly unfinished looking sandwich cakes in the foreground which was giving me big Death of Seneca energy

but kudos to him, I would have had an absolute mental breakdown the moment I had forgotten to put the timer on, but he just kept cheerfully going like a Hobbit daring to seek adventure and smiled the entire time Paul and Prue told him his ginger cakes were lacking in ginger and much like Bonnie Tyler in 1984, did not have a hero (flavour)

on the plus side, they look the most like sandwiches…?

I was genuinely surprised (and a little relieved) that nobody had specifically set out to make their sandwich cakes look like sandwiches – are we finally out from under the shadow of Francis Quinn’s Shenanigans? Abdul’s cacti were the most adjacent to that but he hadn’t brought an entire terrarium to display them in so it’s forgivable. Everyone else went for very straightforward cakes – none more so than Compost Carole (affectionate) who likes herself a more traditional approach to baking, her first offering being Lemon and Poppy Seed cakes topped with what were meant to be bees but did look a bit like decapitated Lego people

which made it all the more macabre when she began reeling off their names like she was witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins

they very much enjoyed her flavours and the fact she had managed to balanced the sharpness of her lemon curd, which she had used a Kirsty Gallacher amount of sugar to make.

Expert sniper, Syabira, was going for flavours we don’t often see on the show, using Pandan Leaf as the main flavour for her Malaysian inspired cakes that featured a set custard layer on top as well as a small sweet known as onde-onde that’s basically a sweetened rice cake filled with molten palm sugar

the judges were impressed by the originality of it, especially her use of the set custard on the top, but did comment that she could have afforded to be a little neater with the presentation, and they did seem a touch squat.

Rebs had a few presentation issues of her own as she had planned on filling her cakes with a hazelnut caramel, however unfortunately you cannot play by the MasterChef Butter Rules in the Bake Off tent as she had added enough butter to her caramel for Chris Eubank to poach half a butternut with

and so when it came to trying to fill her cake, the caramel had dribbled out the side quite a bit, which she could have said was an aesthetic choice and she wanted her cakes to look like they were cinched for the Gods

however she is a more honest gal than I. The bigger issue for her was the amount of coffee she had used in her sponge, and you knew it was going to be too strong for Paul Hollywood the moment Rebs opened the oven and nearly choked on the arabica-scented fumes that billowed out of it

and Paul Hollywood never slept again.

Lastly we have Super Serious Scientist James

who in his spare time enjoys dressing up as post-sacrifice Mr. Frogginton

Dawn, you’ve started a cult.

For his sandwich cakes, James was taking inspiration from Sticky Toffee Apples, and for his presentation was very much cutting from the same cloth as Rebs, except his did look a bit like someone on the Generation Game had tried to replicate Rebs’s cakes in only 3 minutes

but at least they tasted really nice and they could eat them without severely screwing up their sleep schedules.

An Unofficial Miniature Sandwich Cake Ranking

  1. No, I Was Saying Booze Urn
  2. The Bachelor, Sandro Edition
  3. Abdul’s Cacticomb
  4. PanDANG! That’s Good.
  5. Maxy’s Patisserie Valerie Window Display
  6. Carole’s Lego Head Collection
  7. Dawn’s Springtime Madness
  8. James’s Heavy Lifting Flavours
  9. Kevin’s High Nut Frequency
    • Maisam’s Reconstituted Sponges
  10. Rebs, Sponsored by Starbucks
  11. Will’s Antihero Sandwiches

Rolling Out The Red Velvet

For their first technical of the series the bakers were having to make America’s entry into The World’s Most Divisive Cakes, the Red Velvet Cake which had to be 6 sponge layers high with equal amounts of cream cheese icing to give it the necessary height. And they also had to decorate it with a red velvet crumb – and they were going to be VERY picky over the presentation because it it didn’t look like a crime scene, it wasn’t a red velvet cake in the eyes of Paul Hollywood

James was the one who found this out the hard way, having gone all out on the icing nozzles in an attempt to win some brownie points

only for Paul and Prue to both declare they hate it and send it promptly to the bottom of the ranking purely for the crime of looking slightly like it had had a very regrettable haircut which was a little baffling given THEY EVEN SAID THE SPONGE WAS GOOD! They hardly said anyone’s sponge was good! I mean they complained about the fact Maxy’s sponge was too red despite the fact I think even Pantone would rule that it was legally the same colour as everyone else’s

the biggest struggle to get their sponges baked was Rebs who was the first to crack during the game of Baking Chicken, yanking her sponges out of the oven like Indiana Jones taking the Golden Idol

and much like the the booby-trapped Peruvian Temple, Rebs’s cakes promptly crumbled, fired poisoned darts at her and sunk before her very eyes

this did mean that her cake didn’t have the necessary height that Paul and Prue were after – the only person to truly achieve that feat of cake architecture was Syabira who was operating on the advantage that she’s made Red Velvet Cakes before and quite enjoys doing so, so hers was, quite literally, head and shoulders above the rest

she had close competition from Sandro though, which may or may not be down to his very unsubtle sneaky peeking

he was stuck between a bit of a rock and a hard place though with James launching a rebellion against red velvet aesthetics behind him and Rebs playing out a woman Greek tragedy in front of him

I hope he brings a periscope next week, it might make copying Syabira easier.

But with Rebs’s struggle came the possibility of Will to claw back some necessary points, as unlikely as it is given the fact he only has one mode of operation: Fizzing Anxiety

but his biggest sin was the fact he went too heavy with the Blood Splatter Crumb on the outside and his interior layers, while a decent ratio, could have been neater

given the fact they were so picky about presentation and height (hey dating apps, hey) I was a little surprised that Abdul managed to find himself placed in the top half of the leaderboard given the fact he had tried to ice his cake with cream cheese that was very much a liquid

I can’t tell if I’m wanting justice for James or Will in this situation. Perhaps both.

An Official Red Velvet Cake Ranking

  1. Syabira’s Burj Khalifa of the Red Velvet World
  2. Sandro’s Red Velvet Crib Sheet
  3. Dawn’s Under The Influence Ascent To Power
  4. Kevin’s Thicc Crumb
  5. Maisim’s Red Leaning Cake
  6. Abdul’s Cream Cheese Melting
  7. Keeping Janusz Humble
  8. Carole’s Undefined Swirls
  9. Will By Virtue Of The Others’ Failures
  10. Maxy’s Red Redrum Velvet Cake
  11. Rebs: Baker of the Lost Cake
  12. 50 YEARS IN AESTHETIC JAIL FOR JAMES

Home Is Where The Star Baker Is

For this year’s Cake Week Showstopper the bakers were having to make a replica of a house that they had at some point in their lives lived in entirely out of cake. Given that sadly none of the bakers are the offspring of one of the Grand Designs disasters, this did mean it was mainly a competition between quaint cottages and inner city flats – this showstopper brought to you by ~the class divide~!

Given the fact she was on something of a backfoot, Rebs was bringing out the big guns for this challenge and invoking The Sacred Right of The Pina Colada, and she was going ALL IN on the rum, drenching her flambeed pineapple rings in it like they were performing an all pineapple production of Flashdance

and that wasn’t the end of her liberal use of rum as she proceeded to just spritz the entire cake with a Coconut Rum, desperately coaxing Prue to compliment her

as they say, “The rum in spum stays mumly on the plum”.

She did have cause to be anxious though, as when she had cut her sponge in order to start her NVQ in Cake Architecture, she found that one of her sponges wasn’t quite cooked through and from there proceeded to perform the rarely seen cake transplate, taking a ring of cooked sponge and transplanting it in place of the uncooked sponge’s own heart – isn’t the NHS incredible?

although her painstaking act of cake surgery wasn’t entirely worth it

SHE GAVE HER CAKE A NEW HEART PAUL. Prue meanwhile was just happy to be tasting a pina colada before happy hour.

Rebs wasn’t the only one using the Boozy Get Out of Jail Free Card as Sandro was making his bid for Star Baker by absolutely drenching his sponge in the novelty Strawberries and Cream Baileys

his mistake being that he was using the novelty Strawberries and Cream Baileys. Don’t worry, I can fix him.
His cake was a nod to his grandmother’s house where he would often spend Christmas as a kid, and this whole bake was mostly a call out post for the last few years of subpar Christmas presents he’s been given

well, I hope you’re gonna be happier with the 5 novelty Star Baker aprons that everyone is going to buy you from Not On The High Street this year, mate. You dug your own grave.
His cake did end up being one of the simpler looking ones of the challenge

I personally quite like it, I think Paul and Prue were dinging him quite a bit on account of the fact his brickwork was done using a stencil, but I thought the Christmas lights and the smattering of frost he had done was really cute, but his flat roof was making it look more obviously cake-like than most of the others.

While Sandro and Rebs jumped aboard the Booze Wagon, destination Prue’s Liver, as a means to success. You would think the bakers might have learned from the mistakes of the signature challenge, AND YET in comes Carole putting so much coffee into her Coffee and Walnut cake that Paul could see through time and space

she did at least have the decency to gaze upon her cake once she had finished baking it as though she were Dr. Frankenstein realising he had created an abomination of human consciousness, knowing the destruction she was about to inflict upon Paul’s neural system

and I think it was made all the funnier that this psychoactive trip was hidden within a very cute looking cake cottage with perfectly piped flower pots and hedges

just make a mental note never to drink the tea when you’re around Carole, she’ll have you smelling colours and tasting sounds.

Will knew that he needed to pull off something quite spectacular to salvage his run and in order to do so was deciding to, as well as his cakes, make gingerbread – I think on some level he probably knew he wasn’t going to see Biscuit Week so he might as well just bring it in, they’re probably going to have to make gingerbread sculptures anyway!
I actually do think Will’s build looked the part

like, I’m pretty sure that’s Rowley Way (he doesn’t live there anymore, so he hasn’t doxxed himself via cake). It is lacking in features like doors and windows though – I’m choosing to believe he was staying true to the brutalist architecture of the estate. It did all rather come undone once they cut into it and the chocolate and orange sponges looked bone dry

perhaps he should have considered baptising his sponges in Grand Marnier?

Also using London flats as her inspiration was Maxy, who looked like she was preparing to build a life-sized replica the moment she took her 2 cake tins out

and the flats she created were rather big and I’m surprised they were even half as structurally sound as it was – I loved that Abdul boasted about 5kgs of cake batter while Maxy was lugging around what looked like her entire bodyweight in cake

those windows are however not passing a survey – although someone would still buy it blindly at auction on Homes Under The Hammer and Martin Roberts would be very annoyed at them for it.

Maxy’s lack of architectural success was at least saved by the fact the judges really loved her apple and berry crumble layer in the middle of her cake

and upon learning about it, I feel as though I have gazed upon God themself. But that might also be the lingering visions of Mr. Froggington, it’s very hard to tell.

The last of our flat complexes came from Janusz, whose cake was a more artistic interpretation of how his mother’s flat was always the most colourful one because of the flowers she grew

I think it’s absolutely beautiful and a really, really clever way of interpreting the brief and the other bakers could have afforded to add a little more artistic license here and there because unless you had a super weird house, you were inevitably going to make something that looked like someone else’s because British architecture is not the most diverse. Also the judges don’t know what your childhood house looks like – screw it, tell them you think you’re the reincarnation of Marie-Thérèse, Duchess of Angoulême and you lived in Versailles. This was just a lot of very small, very square houses to get through.

Janusz was also setting himself apart with his flavours, ending Miso Caramel’s moment in the sun and ushering in the age of Soy Sauce and Chocolate

and the judges fell head over heels for it too, so apologies to Crystelle, you might be out of a Waitrose gig.

Somehow we only had one instance of pebbledashing, with Dawn providing the much needed representation

she had set out to give her cake a mammoth 12 layers, but had to eventually cut it short at 11 because her buttercream was beginning to cause subsidence issues – at this point Homes Under The Hammer would start playing Going Underground by The Jam.
But 11 layers still looks very impressive when you cut it

and in genoise sponge no less!

James was suffering some buttercream issues as well with his sponge being unable to hold up against it and becoming a little bit of a claggy mess

but the fact Paul couldn’t talk for a full 5 seconds after eating it because his mouth was gummed shut (a small mercy) the actual cake looked really quaint and characterful – Prue was particularly taken by his piping work and praised him as being “very good at piping”

TELL THAT TO HIS LAST PLACE RED VELVET CAKE WHY DON’T YOU.

I have no segue but I promise I’m not just doing Kevin next because he’s also Scottish… Much like Will, Kevin was making things a little more complicated for himself by opting to make the roof and windows of his house of gingerbread, which did unfortunately get a little burnt in the oven, and that combined with the autumnal maple tree outside the house did look a bit like we were looking at the model of a housefire

also absolutely top tier name for his bake, I just love that Kevin might be a Rihanna stan – all aboard The Navy!

His actual bake was a little hit and miss, they loved the flavour of his banana sponge but Paul did think he could have cut his Chekhov’s pecans a little smaller

Kevin being Kevin though merely looked on as though he was seriously contemplating cutting Paul up into smaller pieces

and given the fact he was doing his piping work with the same disgruntled energy as Pingu making handmade cards he will be doing it at some point

Bread Week’s gonna be a bloodbath lads.

In keeping with the fact the house she was making out of cake was a replica of her childhood home in Malaysia, Syabira was using Milk Tea and Matcha as her main flavours

Paul was once again holding out for a hero (flavour) because the matcha and milk tea were both very subtle and the strawberry jam wasn’t quite cutting through enough. It wasn’t as successful a bake as her red velvet cake, but she did give us our first Bake Off Phallus of the series

I don’t know, pour yourself a glass of champagne, I guess? It’s a momentous occasion.

Abdul was also using flavours from his childhood to further accentuate the fact he was using his grandparent’s home in Pakistan as his inspiration

and he’s very lucky that this Chai Masala and Mango cake even existed given the fact he spent 40 whole minutes with his sponge just not baking in his oven because he hadn’t turned the damned thing on

don’t worry, Rebs can fix it with surgery, it’s fine.

It was a shame that they had so much to get through this episode because it would have been nice to hear more about a few of the homes and details they had, like, why was Abdul’s house covered in tiny rabbits?

I’m assuming angora farming, or fancy rabbit dealing (I went on a deep dive about the Pakistani rabbit industry) but you know, it would have been nice to have been told this and I could have no spent 20 minutes looking at rabbits on Instagram.

Lastly we have Maisam whose cake was modelled after her home in Libya with the flavours being a nod to her favourite lemon tree, which got me thinking about my favourite lemon tree and I think I’ve only ever known one lemon tree, so I guess my favourite lemon tree is in Lourdas on the island of Kefalonia, I hope he’s well.
I did appreciate the fact that Maisam was at least bringing some colour to the proceedings and I very much enjoyed that her house looked like Flappy Bird

Maisam was like 9 when Flappy Bird was a thing, I have just turned to dust.

The judges weren’t quite as taken with the admittedly slightly fleshy 8-bit aesthetic of her cake but they did very much enjoy her flavours – the balance between her lemon and blueberry components being very well managed. However Prue did think it was “too pudding-y”, but by this point she had had to eat 12 slices of cake so I assume everything was beginning to taste a little bit like custard would provide a light relief.

An Unofficial House Cake Ranking

  1. Homes Under The Hammer Playing Flowers In The Window by Travis.
  2. The Rum in Spum Stays Mumly on the Plum.
  3. Dawn’s Pebbledash For Glory
  4. Kevin’s House Fire
  5. Carole’s Insomnia Cake
  6. James’s Piping Redemption
  7. Sandro’s Bad Taste in Baileys
  8. Syabira’s Antiheroine Cake
  9. Maxy’s Life-sized Flats
  10. Abdul’s Rabbit Housestead
  11. Maisam’s Libyan Lemons
  12. Will’s Brutalist Baking

It was no real surprise that the first Star Baker of the series was Janusz given the fact he had very decidedly come out on top in both the Signature and the Showstopper Challenge

it was a very much deserved win and I’m very excited to see what else he can pull out the bag over the course of the series.

It’s always rough that someone has to go home first and there were a number of bakers in peril, but it did feel like Will and Maisam were in the most danger, the latter of the two being consoled by Rebs who, imaginably an entire spritz bottle of coconut rum to the wind by this point, was fulfilling her role as incredibly Emotional and Supportive Drunk Girl You Befriended In The Toilets On A Night Out

they are the guardian angels of the nightclub scene.

Maisam was however granted a reprieve and it was unfortunately Will who was saying a very early goodbye

but do you know what? As far as First Outs go, I think he did pretty well.

And so, the competition just got real…

If you’ve enjoyed this recap of Bake Off 2022’s premier and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi account HERE.

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