The Great British Bake Off: 11.01 Cake Week
In times of uncertainty there are few things more soothing than cake. For the 2020 edition of The Great British Bake Off there have been some subtle, unavoidable changes. Firstly, Matt Lucas was made to feel welcome by spoofing the Prime Minister in an opening sketch to the nation. On a more serious note, this year's batch of twelve contestants have also left their loving homes to live in a GBBO bubble. Thankfully, social distancing means that Paul Hollywood cannot be breathing down their necks.
As always, the opening week was Cake Week starting with a Signature Challenge of a Battenberg complete with homemade marzipan. Rulers were out for precisely cut and coloured sponges with some showing their ambition right from the start, the question was whether they could rise to it.
Mak is a Management Accountant though some of his choices appeared more renegade. Going for a Pistachio Marzipan atop his ‘East India Battenberg’, then going bold for Spiced Stem Ginger then Orange flavoured Sponge. The easier option could be seen with Hermine who went for a more traditional Chocolate and Orange Battenberg. Despite opting for Marmalade instead of eggs in the marzipan, the Trainee Accountant was onto a winner with her balanced flavours. Peter went gluten-free for his Chocolate and Orange Battenberg and the Accountancy student impressed with his decadent flavours. That’s the accountant section done then.
Laura’s ‘Celebration of Summer’ Raspberry Ripple and Coconut Battenberg barely looked the part with its mismatch of layers. Despite its promise, the Samaritans Volunteer was pegged back by the sponges' lack of flavour. Dave’s ‘Chocolate Espresso Martini’ Battenberg also promised much having seen him already reaching for the vodka. Maybe too much as the coffee overpowered the chocolate which left the Security Guard wondering why he bothered opting for the alcohol. Linda works in Supported Housing and produced an ‘Ambulance Battenberg’, the basic design of which somewhat masked an overbaked sponge. Shame. Loriea’s ‘Hot Summer’s Day Treats’ Bubblegum and Cream Soda Battenberg looked to be NHS sponsored in its colour scheme, which made sense for a Radiographer. Alas, her extravagant sponges were ‘bone dry’ too, a remark she looked to have taken personally.
Mark’s ‘Turkish Bazaar Inspired’ Battenberg had an ambitious balance of Almond and Orange Marzipan then Pistachio with Cardamom Sponge and Pomegranate and Orange Sponge. It turned out to be relatively straightforward, which you would expect from a Project Manager. Then there was Marc who went a bit overboard with the striking floral decoration for his ‘Bittersweet Battenberg’ of Sour Cherry, Chocolate and Walnut. The part-time Carer looked to have gotten away with it, despite the flavours competing against each other.
Lottie decided to wrap up her Rhubarb and Custard Battenberg and the gesture paid off for the Pantomime Producer, despite having to redo her sponge. Rowan may have initially complicated himself as well as the judges with his ‘Magic Flute’ Battenberg of thirteen separate sponge sections. The Music Teacher ended up blitzing his sponges in the microwave though failed to own up to it. Finally, there was Sura with her Lemon and Orange Battenberg. Another potential crisis was averted when her previously overflowing sponge was deemed ‘a lovely piece of cake’.
The Technical Challenge came from Paul of six miniature Pineapple Upside Down Cakes. Delicacy was key, the sponge needed to be light then complemented by the decadent caramel flavour. The other delicate matter was retrieving the sponges from their moulds. Alas, Linda failed to manage that though a VAR check might be needed to find out exactly how Dave’s batch ended up on the floor courtesy of some ill-judged contact from Sura.
Unsurprisingly, Linda’s were ultimately deemed a disaster followed by Marc’s bitter efforts and Loriea’s tame, pale ones. The top three was made up of Rowan’s consistent cakes then Peter’s almost faultless batch with Sura coming out on top largely due to the pipework, though she didn’t want to celebrate.
The Showstopper Challenge was particularly strange and stressful, a 3D Celebrity Cake Bust which left the tent looking more like a haphazard art class. Timers and stacking equipment at the ready.
Lottie wisely used a skull mould for her Coconut and Lime Louis Theroux with Chocolate Orange Buttercream. The flavours were there with the facial features but it was overbaked. As was Mak’s ‘Tribute to Bill Bryson’ of Lemon Madeira Cake with Redcurrant Jam. Rowan again complicated matters with his ‘Let Them Eat Cake’, a Tribute to Marie Antoinette. He was hoping to supplement his tasty Cherry and Chocolate Sponge with a Choux Bun Bouffant though eventually made do with rice paper for the hairdo. Peter’s ‘In Honour of Sir Chris (Hoy)’ was much more subtle, a ‘witty’ Victorian Sponge sandwiched with Strawberry Jam and Whipped Cream which saw him crowned the first Star Baker.
Marc went for a Chocolate and Vanilla Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie, though you’d struggle to recognise him the flavours were evident. Similarly, Hermine’s ‘Ode To Lupita’ was indistinct though the Hollywood actress was fairly depicted in rich Chocolate Sponge with Coffee Cream Cheese Icing. Mark’s ‘Origin-ger of The Species by Charles Darwin’ bust of Ginger Sponge with Chocolate and Ginger Ganache looked somewhat regal and proved well baked. Unlike Dave’s ‘Three Flavours of Tom DeLonge’ which featured a Strawberry then Mint Sponge with a Dark Chocolate Buttercream. Bold and colourful though Prue likened the taste to toothpaste.
To cap off an impressive week, Sura’s ably produced an ‘Ode to (Sir David) Attenborough’ of light Coconut Sponge and Raspberry Buttercream. However, Laura’s Lemon and Elderflower Freddie Mercury was almost too moist for its own good, though the structure was failing the flavours were anything but.
Of those in trouble, Linda went back to basics for a Lemon and Orange Bob Marley, though he was missing a mouth the flavours spoke for themselves. That left Loriea and her ‘Flavours of Jamaica’ Tribute to Miss Lou, the Jamaican poet. She decided to go big and the bust was judged overwhelming in appearance and flavour with Chilli Chocolate Sponge as well as Mango and Ginger Jam. She also went home.
Next up, Biscuit Week.