After last week’s dull episode, we were back with a bang (and Jo Brand) to the tent in the unspecified field that hosts the one and only Great British Bake Off.
This week we had comedian David Mitchell, actor Michael “I am the most competitive person IN. THE. WORLD.” Sheen, Radio 1 DJ Jameela Jamil (I had to google her. Yes, I know. Shut up), and education campaigner but let’s face it, better known as the wife-of-Gordon, Sarah Brown.
It kicked off with the signature challenge – 24 identical shortbread fingers with, apparently, “a touch of je ne sais quoi.” So not shortbread fingers, then. Why can’t they just say that? Jameela chose to make orange shortbread, which within seconds was welded to the worktop like Posh was to Becks when news of his alleged dalliance with Rebecca Loos broke. Mary, already looking disappointed, silently handed her a palette knife. Sarah looked serious. David put too much icing sugar in his sieve and then couldn’t get it into his bowl because it was too small. “I always thought difficult baking involved things like flambéing. I never thought trying to sieve something would make you feel like you wanted to die,” he groaned dispiritedly, more icing sugar on his face than his biscuits.
Next up was the technical challenge: mini pork pies, which are fiendishly difficult to make at the best of times. Nobody except Sarah had any idea how to rub butter into sifted flour, so they simply waited a few minutes and then copied her. David made the mistake of asking her for help. “It says in the rules that contestants must not confer,” she retorted as she brushed him away smugly. Life in the Brown household must be a HOOT. Meanwhile, Jameela was struggling. “What even IS lard?” she fretted, unsurprisingly for a woman who has clearly never eaten anything with more than 200 calories in it in her life. Lard is great, Jameela. Britain was built on it. Michael got a fit of the giggles. “I’ve no idea what I’m doing,” he told everyone somewhat unnecessarily, since he was trying to peel an onion with a potato peeler. Once his pies were in the oven, he peered at them worriedly. “Mine are looking pallid,” he said sadly. “If it was a horse, you’d shoot it.” Sarah took hers out of the oven and pronounced them a success. “They’re golden brown, and they smell rather nice.” We’ve all been at school with someone like that, haven’t we children?
Anyway, most of the pies looked more or less like pies, which was a triumph given their unpromising start. Sarah looked furious to be told by Mary her pies had “got a bit of leakage” but there was “plenty of meat in there, which I like.” Double shots drunk at this point by anyone playing the GBBO innuendo game. David beat Sarah to first place, who pretended not to mind, and secretly rang her husband to ask if they still had access to the S.A.S.*
Finally, the show-stopper. The bakers had to make a fruit and cream triple-layered pavlova. “I’m looking for a bit of artistry,” said Paul, hopefully. David said his pavlova would be designed to look like a rocket, and the meringue would therefore be dyed grey. Grey being the least appetising food colour ever, Mary looked doubtful. Michael said he’d be baking a kind of lemon curd pavlova. Sarah was baking something tropical. Jameela did something with red food dye and peaches. I didn’t hear the precise details because I was mixing a gin and tonic at the time, alright? Bite me.
Jameela squealed with despair as she took her efforts out of the oven. “They’re burnt, and they’re under-cooked! How can that even BE?” Your oven was too hot, love, that’s how. David’s grey meringues were the size and shape of three pantechnicons and were also heavily cracked. “Definitely more moon rocks than rocket,” he said, happily smothering them in whipped cream. At the other end of the spectrum, Jameela’s were so small a mouse would have left the table hungry. “What should I do?” she wailed. Michael’s looked delicious. Sarah’s had so much fruit piled on it, it resembled a market stall, but Mary said she loved it, so what would I know?
Unsurprisingly, Jameela’s was a disaster, as she’d mashed the whole lot up and declared it a sort of Eton Mess. “It’s not got the three layers,” said Mary, gazing a bowl full of bright pink germolene. David’s was pronounced beautifully marshmallow-y. Michael’s was sensational. “Sheer perfection,” said Mary. “This is going into the National Museum of Wales,” whooped a delighted Michael. He won.
Next week, three celebrities and Chris Moyles will be competing. If you want to make a donation to Comic Relief, all you have to do is text Bake to 70005.
(*Oh alright, she didn’t.)