The Great British Bake Off: 10.1 Cake Week
The Great British Bake Off returns so get the apron out of the kitchen drawer as it is time to meet the newest batch of bakers. The stakes have been raised from the start with a bakers dozen of 13 meaning the double elimination could be on in any given episode. As ever, there is a heady mix of contestants from the blissfully young to the slightly eccentric who will all stand before Prue and Paul. First up is Cake Week and what better Signature Challenge to begin with than a classic Fruit Cake.
Alice is a Geography teacher yet would do well to ensure she remains in Paul's good books. If you hadn't realised that Christmas is coming her Gingerbread Fruit Cake Wreath certainly looked good enough to hang on a door yet the ginger was deemed overpowering. Dan was soon in Paul's bad books as he made the rookie mistake of changing his very first recipe and upping the amount of dried fruit in his Jamaican Rum Cake. Alas, his gamble backfired as the first raw rating was duly delivered.
Next up was Amelia who is a sportswear designer so we should expect ravishing looking creations. She began with an utterly Christmassy cake involving 700g of dried fruit and a few generous glugs of brandy, lovely. Yorkshireman David is a Health Advisor so the gluten and sugar-free rounds should be relatively straightforward and signs are that he should get that far. His Squishy Squashy Fruit Cake with dried prunes and figs would keep you regular and didn't skimp on taste, though there was a bit too much almond essence.
Twenty-year old Henry does indeed get ID'd yet thankfully he is old enough to handle alcohol which should stand him in good stead for when the pressure mounts and he inevitably turns to the bottle. For now his recipes belie his tender years; there's the Wood Street Cake which dates back to the 17th century then his Chocolate and Blackberry Secret Woodland Cake with the trustworthy fruit meaning he comfortably got through.
Another twenty-year old is Jamie who was inspired by Bake Off and if that fails to make you feel old then nothing will, where has the last decade gone? If anything, his bakes were more old-lady than part-time waiter. His Easter Simnel Cake looked the part with a good mix of marzipan and dried fruit yet he soon struggled. His Salted Caramel Schnauzer Birthday Cake just about scraped him through despite being over-baked and a tad overpowering. Unlikely he'll be forgetting to add the eggs to his batter ever again.
Helena clearly has a dark side and soon involved a fascination with Halloween into her baking, spooky when the final is due for broadcast on the closing week of October. True to form, she began with a Fruit Bat Cake which was without wings and almost savoury yet not entirely disagreeable. On the lighter side was Michael who is Manager at a theatre company. Nerves may have gotten the better of him as he managed to cut himself not once, but twice in making his Cup of Chai Cake. The end result looked stunning and he should impress when he is able to use both hands. Patched up, his Treasure Chest Chocolate and Coffee Cake featuring tiny cinder toffee gold bars and bright molten sugar gems certainly nailed the brief, if only missing a bit more chocolate.
You could probably trust Phil to solve your drainage problem/faulty wiring/collapsing wall but baking? He's actually a lorry driver with a passion for motorbikes and got stuck in making his own marzipan for his classy looking Spiced Fruit Cake. His Retro Rocket Cake with sherbet flavoured sponge commemorated the Moon landing yet was wonky in appearance and unbalanced in flavour. He'll need to curb out the ruggedness if he is to go far.
As a self-confessed perfectionist, Priya will likely do well and her Sunshine Fruit Cake with hand-crafted marzipan pineapples and oranges came complete with summery, citrusy Club Tropicana vibes. Alas, her substantial Chocolate Orange Once Upon a Time Cake looked a tad clumsy and dry by comparison. Steph also has an eye for detail and likes to make her baking healthier. She went vintage for her Great Grandma Rosie's Spicy Chai Loaf which was juicy enough for Prue to want to take it home.
Being a vet, Rosie seems to find similarities between her baking and her job which is kinda disturbing and a little too clinical. Confusingly, she also evoked her Grandma in her fruit cake. Her Magical Jungle Cake then featured a tiny monkey atop a chocolate tree and while the cake itself was without dispute, the appearance triggered a disagreement between Paul and Prue, even if it did pretty much look like a monkey up a tree.
The Technical Challenge of six Angel Cake slices was soon deemed ridiculously tricky. Of course, the recipe was devilishly lacking in detail so proved easy to over-mix, over-cook, over-complicate and over-flavour. Jamie was one of the first in trouble as he restarted his batters only to end with rubbery slabs anyway as did Helena who were bottom of the pile. Sitting smugly at the top were Rosie and Henry for their feathering and general neatness.
The Showstopper round asked the bakers to take themselves back to their youth and produce a Birthday Cake, for themselves, as a child. Alice has clearly done her studying and incorporated lemon butter biscuits as walls for her beautiful, colourful Like a Child in a Sweetshop Cake. She could go far with designs like these. So could Amelia with a bit of fine tuning as she finished with Rice Krispies, marshmallows and red velvet sponge in her Carousel Birthday Cake. Despite the promise of those child-pleasing ingredients it looked a little plain and tasted a little claggy.
If there were marks simply for appearance then David's truly showstopping Snakey Birthday Cake of Chocolate and Orange sponge would have taken all of them, especially for the baby snakes enclosed in an egg. More importantly, the flavours were all there. Not far behind was Steph's exquisite yet slightly tragic looking Sundae on the Beach Coconut and Raspberry Ripple Cake which was overbaked. Keeping with Helena's winged theme was her Away with the Fairies Cake which was all about the chocolate, prompting Paul to sneak in an eye rolling 'furry garden' reference.
The first Star Baker was Michelle who clearly loves experimenting with flavours and incorporated tea bags and Welsh rum into her Bara Brith Teulu Ni, roughly translated from the Welsh as Our Family's Bara Brith. To the judges it was tough but flavoursome and her Ty Tylwyth Teg (Fairy House Cake) Carrot Cake looked stunning in its detail and faultless in its delivery. Then there was Dan and his Lime and Coconut Pirate Island Cake which was enough to pose the question of did he make the Thunderbirds Tracey Island as a child or was he bought one? There were bonus points for the working, dry ice addled waterfall though it was not enough to save him as he was the first to leave the tent.