The Great British Bake off is back and what a cracker of a first episode it was. Following with tradition, the show kicked off with ‘Cake week’ where bakers were expected to produce their ‘signature’ madeira cake, show their technical abilities with Mary Berry’s walnut cake and finally impress the judges with their ‘showstopper’ version of the classic black forest gateaux. We had gin glazes, chocolate shards, the introduction of the ‘candied drop test’ and a very unfortunate incident with an unset chocolate mouse.
I am pleased to report that most of the original gang were back in full force. We had Sue, Mel and their innuendos (which I might note, seem to be getting worse as the series’ goes on). We had the one and only Queen Mary Berry adorned in one of her finest neon blazers and finally Paul Hollywood shrouded in his ego.
While at first glance the GBBO tent appeared as always like a John Lewis showroom mixed with a kitchen belonging to someone with a double barrelled name, I am sad to report that there was one member of the GBBO family who did not make a return to this series, with the cult Kitchen Aid mixer appearing to have been booted out in favour of the more traditional British K Mix. Although I am relieved to report that the jazzy ‘slidey door’ oven remains and looks as glorious as ever.
The most uncomfortable part of the episode came when poor Dorret’s chocolate mouse failed to set in time, reducing her black forest cake to a pile of goop or as Paul scathingly referred to it as ‘a mud slide’. Mary made a mild attempt to reassure her- ‘I’ve got a sort of feeling it’s going to taste rather good’. But unfortunately for poor Dorret it didn’t.
‘It’s like rubber. It’s like chewing on a rubber tyre’ Paul claimed. The dear Mary Berry again tried to comfort her by remarking on the success of the flavours, with Paul agreeing before sarcastically quipping that it still ‘looks a bit of a mess’. Go on Paul, really stick the knife in, I don’t think she quite feels bad enough as it is. See said ‘mud slide’ below. Poor Dorret…
I have to say that the standard expected by the judges appears to be getting higher as the show goes on. I re-watched the very first episode of series one the other day and was reminded of just how far the competition has come; It would seem that gone are the days of the humble Vicky sponge, replaced with challenging bakes such as the Dobos Torte, hand raised pies and puff pastry made from scratch- even Mary Berry admits to buying her own!
People are in outrage over the fact it has come to light that Marie Campbell spent a week studying pastry in Paris and that Flora Shedden runs a professional cooking blog featuring complex creations such as fennel ice cream sandwiches. But it could be argued that ‘real’ amateur bakers simply wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demands of the increasingly high standards expected to keep a place in the coveted tent. I know that I wouldn’t know where to begin if someone as me to make a bloody Kouign-amann!
So who do I want win? Well so far it’s ‘I’m quite random’ Sandy who has my backing after her proclamation that she, ‘can be baking a cake and have a meat pie by the time she’s finished’. Her funny, laid back and humble approach to baking makes her a favourite in my eyes.
With biscuit week gracing our screens tonight it will be interesting to see how the contestants continue to perform and whether any new favourites begin to emerge.