It’s Italian week! The first one ever. Italians are terrific at food so this week looked likely to be one of the best weeks in Bake Off history. As always, Dr Oetker was sponsoring proceedings. The Doc must have forked over a serious wodge of money, because it is a brand for people who are too lazy to bake properly and prefer the kind of crap that comes in a box and requires little more than a bowl, a load of oil, a whisk and a egg.
So, everyone was to make their own version of cannoli. A traditional Sicilian dish, comprising tubes of deep fried pastry filled with a sweet ricotto. 18, three different fillings, all identical. Liam knew exactly what he was doing. “My cannolis are inspired by me. How I am as a person.” Calorie dense? Difficult to eat without making a mess? Liam didn’t elaborate.
Tiramisu and lemon meringue were popular flavours. Kate chose the alcohol route (Kate love, Bezza’s gone – accept it, and move on) which pleased Noel who nonchalantly swigged Campari from the bottle like a man who had just missed the cut for the Bullingdon Club.
Sophie/Pippa Middleton ignored the ricotto entirely and used mascapone. Sicilians around, er, Sicily , threw up their hands up in horror at this travesty. Even Paul was shocked. Sophie seems like the kind of woman who would own a horse, but perhaps hasn’t read The Godfather. Good luck, Sophie/Pippa. RIP, Dobbin.
Everyone complained endlessly about the heat of the day, which is a bit rich considering temperatures in Sicily during summer are around 29°C and they seem to manage. Stacey sweated like Harvey Weinstein facing Gwyneth Paltrow in court, but her miraculously heavy mascara, each lash spiked like a conductor’s baton, stayed in place. She should get in touch with Maybelline. She might not win Bake Off but she could get £££££££ for an endorsement. Just saying, Stace.
Due to a technical error (I forgot my Mac wasn’t charging, yes that is technical, no YOU shut up) I missed a bit as I searched for chargers and draft copy etc, but I can report that Steven’s were fabulous – back on form, hurrah! – and Kate’s negroni versions were also well received. Pippa Middleton’s were pronounced a triumph. Bad luck Sicily.
The technical challenge was a pizza. A what? Yes, a pizza. Pizza Margherita. “Basically it’s bread with a bit of cheese on top,” said Yan. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Thin crisp dough, blackened on the outside but folding over in the middle, tomato sauce, mozzarella fior di latte, fresh basil placed on the topping at the last minute. Prue was very firm about that last point. Kate sliced open her finger. “I’m gonna faint.” There were no rolling pins of course. The dough had to be hand tossed (not a euphemism). The wags on Twitter were out in force:
Poor Kate (she of the mangled finger) shoved her beautiful pizza in the oven and it refused to part company with the flat tool thingy (oh, the Peel, thanks Prue) and the cheese fell off and it looked horrible BUT she put fresh basil on at the last minute. Liam’s looked amazing. Pippa Middleton had baked her basil. Yan’s was raw. “I like a little droop at the end,” confided Prue, who should have her own 0800 sex bot premium telephone line. Steven won the challenge. Steven is BACK IN BUSINESS, people. I would so like him to win but I think Sophie/Pippa is a real contender too. And Liam. I love them all, actually.
Finally, the showstopper. 24 Sfogliatelle. A spelling mistake, surely. Nope. “The most complex pastry challenge ever set on Bake Off.” Blimey charlie. Crunchy, rustling leaves, appaz. Yan’s were to feature “bacon dust.” Here’s a thought, bakers and indeed chefs. What’s wrong with just, you know, bacon? Who wants to pratt around making bloody dust, never mind eat the stuff?
Some of the bakers knew what they were doing, some didn’t. Kate, on borrowed time, surely? fell into the latter category. She had never seen sfogliatelle (me neither petal) but “me mam and da went on honeymoon to the Amalfi coast. so I’m going on hearsay.” Bravo, Kate. Also I’ve been the Amalfi coast and I’m pretty sure nobody offered me sfogliatelle, but then I was drinking a lot of gin fizzes that summer so my memory may not be entirely reliable.
The dreaded lamination. Stacey wasn’t happy with hers, neither was Kate. They were both very worried they’d get booted out this week. Sophie/Pippa maintained her calm, “girls, we WILL win this lacrosse match,” head girl persona and Steven and Liam looked quietly confident, notwithstanding Paul trying to wind up Liam.
Kate was sad about her bake. “What did you want?” asked Noel. ‘Bigger. Everyone wants bigger, don’t they?” Wisely, Noel didn’t answer. Stacey pronounced hers to be a “disaster.” Poor love, I bet they still tasted great but as I’ve said all series, the standard this year is insanely good.
Steven’s were outstanding. Liam’s were marvellous. There was a lot of talk about lobster tails. Pippa Middleton’s were also wonderful. Kate’s were “disappointing to look at, but quite pleasant to taste.” Yan’s had no lamination. The knife was in Yan’s guts, but Prue wasn’t going to let her off so easily. “A bit of a mess.” Gee thanks, Prue. Stacey’s were a disaster, as she had predicted. She melted under the fierce gaze of the judges, although her spider’s legs lashes remained defiantly in place. Seriously, beauty PR types. Sign her up.
Steven won star baker (rightly). Yan went. Yan? Kate and Stacey looked relieved, then horrified at Yan’s booting out. Everybody hugged. “I’ve had a wonderful adventure,” she told Prue. “Everybody loves Yan,” said Prue. Everybody loves Bake Off.