IT’S BACK! The anticipation is over and the excitement has begun, as weekly instalments of amateurs attempting to create perfect bakes while trying to avoid that Paul Hollywood stare returns for our TV viewing pleasure. All social events occurring on a Wednesday evening for the next 11 weeks will now be rescheduled. Cue the inevitable distastes, Mel and Sue’s sarcastic-filled witty puns and Marry Berry’s sexual innuendoes, it’s series 6 of the Great British Bake Off.
Ready, set, BAKE!
The Bake-Off tent has played host to many a cake drama, and the first episode of this years series of GBBO didn’t disappoint. The 12 amateur bakers started their experience taking on a classic Madeira cake for their signature bake and naturally deciding to add their own twist; adding thyme, figs, rum and cardamon. Tamal injected his cake with syringes of syrup and Mat flavoured his with 7 shots of gin. The first 15 minutes of the programme was filled with innuendoes surrounding judges Paul and Mary’s desire for a ‘perfect crack’. Such double entendres included:
Ugne: “Looking. For. Crack.”
Marie: “It’s got a lovely crack.”
Mel: “One crack bad, two cracks better.”
Sue: “Right bakers, time to reveal your cracks.”
[For more of last night’s ‘moist cracks and big nuts’ innuendos head to: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/great-british-bake-off-2015-moist-cracks-and-big-nuts-herald-welcome-return-of-innuendo-10442408.html]
The shows charm never fails to amuse me.
It was clear to see the contestants’ nerves from the get-go. Despite having the longest time to prepare for this signature bake, some just didn’t hit the mark. Hollywood felt Ian’s sponge was “like chewing on wallpaper paste”, while poor Stu felt the wrath of Berry who dismissed his efforts as “not, to me, a Madeira cake”. However, Flora’s blood orange cake was a clear winner, with Marie and Nadiya also taking early leads as the judges favourites.
The technical challenge saw the bakers attempt Mary’s quintessentially British walnut cake recipe. Quite a few bakers struggled to create a moist sponge with evenly distributed walnuts. Nadiya came in last place after failing to cover the whole of her cake with frosting, followed closely by Stu whose frosting failed to hold and only delivered 1/12th of the required walnuts. The winner of the technical challenge was Ugne, the 32 year old Lithuanian body builder, who dazzled with a “perfect cake” complete with fancy spun sugar.
[Note how baking and fitness do work well together…]
Moving on to the show stopper challenge; the brief was a black forest gateau, with Mary looking for some technical chocolate work & Paul after a moist chocolate sponge. It was easy to forget that this was the first episode as the cake decorations from the likes of Alvin and Mat was very impressive, however we were brought back to reality with Stu, who’s beetroot flavoured sponge proved to be a crime among the black forest gateau world.
Cue the mousse saga: Poor Dorret, bless her cotton socks. Her attempt at a chocolate mousse ended horribly wrong when the gelatin she used didn’t set, leaving her with a collapsed cake that wasn’t quite how she imagined it. Luckily, she did a good textured cake in the signature round, and unlike Iain’s infamous Baked Alaska disaster on last years Bake-Off, she didn’t throw the whole thing away. Both important factors that saved her from being the first baker sent home.
It was clear after the first two challenges that Stu was struggling to meet the high standards set by the other bakers. His struggle with caramel, stinginess with walnuts and mirrored glazes saw Stu – and his hat – sent home from the GBBO competition. The first episode and they get rid of the token fitty.
OKAY THEN, THANKS FOR THAT.
Rightly so, Marie earned herself the first Star Baker title. Her technical ability shone from the outset & I have her pinned as going quite far in the competition! I also have my eye on Tamal; he may well be the dark horse of this series, but after the first episode it’s impossible to tell. All it takes is for one cake to end up in the bin and it’s game over #bingate
It wouldn’t be the Bake-Off without a bit of controversy and this year it falls in the form of the series’ youngest baker, 19 year old Flora. She pulled back her Madeira from disaster after forgetting to pre-heat her oven, stating “We have an Aga at home” so matter of factly it was almost a reminder in case viewers were worried the Bake-Off had got less middle-class. But this youngster is already an accomplished baker, with a blog full of stunning cake creations. A little unfair for the other bakers, but even more of a reason as to why I’m backing Marie; you go, Glen CoCo!
One of the things I love about the Bake-Off is that right from the start, as viewers, we instantly care for these 12 strangers and feel obliged to empathise with them. This was highlighted most when Sue consoled Dorret and her chocolate mousse mess saying that it’s “just a cake”. Although I felt compelled to shout at the TV that it is so much more than that, essentially, it’s not. The Bake-Off is really only about cakes, but how they manage to turn that into a gripping hour of human drama will always keep me coming back for another slice of the GBBO cake.
P.S. Make your Wednesday nights watching the Bake-Off a social affair…