The Great British Bake Off – episode one


Bake off is back, baby! 12 new contestants, Mel and Sue, Paul “Ronseal” Hollywood and St Mary of Berry who, in certain lights, bears a striking resemblance to Clint Eastwood.  Yes she does. No YOU shut up.

It’s Cake Week (isn’t it mainly cake week?) and among those hoping to bake an outstanding Madeira cake worthy of Mary and Paul’s approval was a Lithuanian bodybuilder, a fireman and, with wearying inevitability, a hipster in a hat. This year’s teen baker, a sweet girl called Flora, forgot to turn on her oven because she has an Aga at home and that’s always on. #middleclassproblems, anyone? Mat (fireman) baked a cake with gin and tonic in it.  Mat was immediately installed as my favourite.

Hipster-in-a-hat had, of course, invented an entirely new kind of Madeira cake ; the  chocolate and lime variety.  Mary’s mouth went all cat bum shaped at this innovation.  “It’ not really a Madeira cake, is it?”

The hell that is the technical challenge was set by Mary and was, we were told, “quintessentially  British.”  Confident that this would be a Chelsea Bun in the shape of Nigel Farage, disappointingly it was instead a walnut cake.   A walnut cake? Labouring under the illusion that walnuts originated from Persia,  a quick check of Wikipedia revealed that there is, in fact, such a thing as the English walnut.  Expect to see them on all UKIP merchandise tomorrow, folks.

Paul complained about some poor sod’s walnuts being too big.  We’ve all been there, Paul.

I forget who won the challenge – some try-hard woman who fannied about with spun sugar as though she was Hermione Grainger in Snape’s Potions’ lesson determined to win 10 points for Gryffindor – and poor old Stu the hipster was declared to be “in real trouble”.  Back in the tent Stu’s  hat drooped with shame.

The final challenge was to bake a Black Forest gateau, which is a fiendishly difficult cake to bake and not, frankly, worth the trouble as it always tastes like something with an Asda “Whoops” sticker on it.  Virtually everyone went for traditional chocolate and cherry, but Stu chose to include beetroot to make it purple, because he’s cool and different.  Just bake the cake, Stu! Always just bake the cake.  Marie, chatting to Paul, said she would make her icing “dribble down the side”.  Paul looked she’d suggested a stray dog  dribble down the side of his M&S chinos, but managed to burble something about this being “interesting”.  And it was; her effort looked fabulous.

Marie was Star Baker, and looked astonished at this accolade, bless her. Poor hipster Stu was ejected, and jumped on his unicycle back to Hoxton or wherever it is that hipsters now live.

Next week – biscuits.