The Great British Bake Off – the final

Bake Off

Gee thanks, Prue.  Even as I was debating reading the spoilers – I have serious problems with the possibility of people knowing anything that I don’t and I’m afraid cannot help myself, I’m the child who systematically searched her parents’ wardrobes/cupboards/attic every year to find out what she was getting for Christmas –  the second I went on Twitter and typed in #GBBO, up came the winner’s name.

OR WAS IT THE WINNER? Could Prue’s slip of the finger (trademark Harvey Weinstein et al, no you shut up), actually be a deliberate attempt to drum up publicity for the final? Maybe it was an hilarious Halloween prank? Doubtful.

Still, onwards and upwards.  In the tent, Kate, Steven and Pippa Middleton Sophie.  What time would Steven have his breakdown? When would Kate declare whatever she was baking to be a disaster? Would Sophie crumble under pressure at any point?

Side note: I had not particularly liked Sophie until she admitted that she hated baking bread and it was a technique she had yet to master.  Sophie, we are kindred spirits.

Her face as they were told to make 12 small loaves was a picture.  Bloody Paul. Baking is cakes, everybody knows that, not stupid bread, especially when the best bread ever, Warburtons Medium Sliced White Bread, is available for £1.05 a loaf.


We cut to the family bit.  Steven’s were lovely, his sister was disconcertingly attractive, his parents were bursting with pride.  Kate’s family all looked exactly the same; long, glossy dark hair (okay, not her Dad, he was going bald, dem’s the breaks, lad) and were full of familial praise for her determination and drive.  Sophie’s mother looked nothing like Carole Middleton, her boyfriend was a very handsome Irishman, and we were shown a picture of her during her ballet dancing days where she looked all kinds of fabulous.

Meanwhile, last year’s crew were watching this year’s crew.  How bloody lovely is Bake Off? They’re all friends!  I could cry with the niceness of it all.

Bake Offll

Honestly, it makes you go all

Paul Hollywood

Anyway, back to bread.  Sophie’s spelt boules, naan bread and ciabatta.  “I wouldn’t call it a ciabatta,” said Paul, with a smirk.  What would you call it then? A roller skake? Petrol station? Cat?

Steven’s rye bread something or others were unproved but had a beautiful flavour.  He’d baked a chocolate, er, something or other and that was a triumph.

Kate’s offerings looked fabulous (don’t know what they were, I was rootling around the fridge for more wine, don’t come here for accuracy guys, you know how I roll) and Paul loved them/it.  “Tastes divine.”

Technical challenge: 12 ginger nuts.  Hey, it could be a new Christmas carol for 2017!

*On the twelfth day of Christmas, Prue Leith gave to me, 12… GINGER… NUTS!”

Oh please yourselves.  Prue insisted each one had to be intricately decorated, natch.  “It looks pretty straightforward,” said Sophie.  “Which worries me.”   Everyone baked, everyone started sweating as they began to pipe their icing.  Sophie was confident, Kate was a mess (“at home, it took me all day to ice 12 biscuits”) and Steven was somewhere in the middle.  I joke, but my word it was a difficult task, requiring a lightness of touch and an intensity of concentration beyond anything anyone in Bake Off had done before.

Steven’s were “quite good”, Kate hadn’t finished, Sophie’s were “good but not finished”, so Steven won.  Hurrah!  Steven is my favourite, although as with every year I have nothing but undiluted admiration for all the bakers.

The showstopper.  A five layered, flawlessly baked and decorated…. who the what now?  An entremet.  Nope, no idea.  Oh, this:


Frickin’ nora, this was DIFFICULT.  Five hours to bake, chill, assemble, decorate.  Nightmare.  But these three are superb bakers and knew exactly what they were doing.  Sophie chose something that involved honey, lemon and lavender – VILE.  Don’t argue with me. Kate was doing something with lychees – BOAK. I remember these being a particularly foul Christmas dessert circa the 70s, usually paired with condensed milk.  Seriously, the food was hideous then, no wonder we were all such thin children, there was nothing worth eating.  Steven was baking something that involved chocolate, bananas and custard, which might sound nice but reminded me of the messes the nuns at my school made us eat (no leaving the table until you’d finished, think of the starving black babies – yes, they said that – you’ll be caned if you don’t finish it, blah blah THWACK).

Back to the tent.  Goodness but these three are talented.  No matter what anyone says, they are immensely talented and they should be proud of themselves.  I wish I were one quarter as good at baking as they are.  Time was up. Sandi and Noel hugged each of the bakers, the crew applauded, and Sandi and Noel teared up with the loveliness of it all.  It would have taken a heart of stone not to do the same.

Just in case any viewer was thinking to themselves that the world was actually not a Trump-filled horror and there was hope for us all, Ainsley Harriott was on hand during the ad break to kill the buzz.  Why does this man irritate me so much? He’s probably perfectly nice IRL. “Ar bet you carnt wait to getcha noshas around dose, ay?” he burbled to a bunch of bodybuilders who remained unmoved by his theatrical wink.  No, me neither.  Something to do with the cost of energy, appaz.

Back to Bake Off.  All the other bakers were there, refusing to say who they thought would win, and then saying “Kate”, “Sophie” or “Steven”.  Even-handed filming there, Channel 4.  Blimey, Sophie’s effort looked, to quote Craig Revel Horwood, AM.AZ.ING.  To their infinite credit, Steven and Kate looked on admiringly.

Kate’s beautiful butterfly-decorated entremet looked fabulous.  “Lovely,’ said Prue.  “I love it,” said Paul.  Kate looked thrilled, and Sophie whispered to her: “well done.”

Finally, Steven.  Wowser.  It was extraordinarly beautiful, but Prue was there to harsh Steven’s mellow: “It looks a little unfinished.”   To be fair to the judges, the layers weren’t that distinct, and Paul complained he couldn’t differentiate between the textures.  Steven had lost it, no question, and he knew it.  Stop worrying Steven, you’ll have a cook book out in months and will be a huge success!  I guarantee it!  Be proud!  It was undeniably sad, after 10 weeks of outstanding baking.  And over on Twitter, people were broadly in agreement:


Out of the tent emerged the three, to loud cheers from the assembled friends and family.   Steven tried to hide his tears, Sophie and Kate said the three of them would be friends for life.  They held hands as Sandi, voice cracking with emotion, announced the winner: Sophie.

So Prue had spoiled it for everyone.  Except of course she hadn’t, because it was absolutely perfect and props to Channel 4 for delivering a wonderful series.  It has been a triumph, because there was no tinkering with the format, and the bakers were allowed to shine.  ‘She put her heart and soul into this,” said Steven.  “And she earned it.  She really earned it.”

I think I’ve got something in my eye.




The Great British Bake Off – week seven

Bake Off

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.

Bake Off





The Great British Bake Off – Week Six

Great British Bake Off

It’s pastry week! And as on most important matters, I am of the same opinion as culinary goddess Delia Smith, who has no problem with using the shop bought stuff.  Unfortunately for the contestants however, it is Prue, not Delia, who is the judge on Bake Off.  Prue does not seem like a woman familiar with Jus-Rol.

Four individual savoury pies, shortcrust pastry, “beautifully decorated”.   Prue advised us on technique.  “The more you fiddle, the tougher it gets.”  Ain’t dat the truth.

Yan was making something decorated with binary code (science, innit), Steven was doing something about Fleetwood Mac (presumably he was going to slip in a few Class A drugs into the egg wash), Kate was doing something about the Beatles (no mention of a fifth, malevolent Yoko Ono pie),  Stacey was making something about “Love” (actually? Would she model the face of Rowan Atkinson and Billy Nighy on the crusts?) and Julia was making “Pies from the Tree”.  Things you can find in trees, she explained.  Like, er, grapes. “Grapes? On a tree?” queried Prue.  “On my tree, YES,” replied Julia firmly.    Sophie was baking “The Four Seasons”.  Vivaldi’s face? A pastry hotel? A PIZZA PASTRY?  Liam was baking “Standard FC” pies, in honour of Manchester United.  Paul, a Scouser, looked at him beadily.  “A shame you’re leaving this week.”

Kate’s Beatles decorations weren’t going to plan.  “Oh.  I’ve ruined John Lennon.”  She stabbed the pastry with a knife savagely.  “Now he looks like Noel Gallagher.”  It’s what he would have wanted, Kate.

Sophie’s efforts were pronounced “a triumph.”  Never mind a Hollywood handshake, she got a Prue Pat.  Steven’s meatballs were charmlessly described as “upsetting”.  Julia’s efforts? “Not your best work.” Kate’s were “a bit boring.”  Yan’s “looked a bit of a mess.”  Tough crowd.   Oh, there was some good stuff. Liam’s were “wonderful”.  Paul was being nice to Liam for once, so I am prepared to forgive him for saying chor-eet-so.  It’s chor-ith-o you GOON.  Stacey’s pies were said to be very nice.  Bland praise, but Stacey took it as a win.

The technical challenge: Portuguese custard tarts, or pastéis de nata. This is pretty much the only food Portugal is known (I’m not going to say famous) for.  I speak from experience; the daughter almost went to university in Coimbra (she wisely dropped Portuguese, focused entirely on Spanish, and chose Madrid instead, WHAT a city, you must go, the food is amazing) and we made a couple of recces and you can’t move for the damn things.  Oh, there is a vile soup, caldo verde, which is made with potato, shredded kale – God’s sake – and chunks of chouriço.  Bleurgh.   Anyway, this is what pastéis de nata should look like:

Portuguese custard tarts

Hardly Michelin star stuff, let’s face it.

Back to the bakers.  Too many people yammering on about rough-puff.  Remember that fool Kimberley from America on The Apprentice who called herself a rough tough cream puff?

Back to the baking.  Sophie was second, Yan was first.  I’m not sure there’s ever been such an accomplished, knowledgeable bunch of bakers on Bake Off, but there could only be one winner and was no doubting the perfection of Yan’s custard doo-dahs.  This is what science is for, folks.  You can keep your Higgs bosun, your Dolly the cloned sheep and your penicillin.  Custard tarts are where it’s at.   Not even the Hubble Telescope could find a single fault.

Paul and Prue discussed who was good, and who was in trouble.  Kate and Julia.  “Limping through week to week.”  Yikes.  But Paul wasn’t through yet.  “I’m going to throw Stacey in the mix.”  Gee, thanks.

Hand-raised pie with hot water crust pastry was the show-stopper.  This is a horribly difficult challenge.  I liked the look of Liam’s – filled with curried goat, topped with mango and avocado.  Julia didn’t know what to do with her pastry – mould it from the inside, mould it from the outside? “Outside,” whispered Stacey.  “I don’t know!” wailed Julia, and foolishly ignored Stacey’s wise words.  Yan was filling her pie by squeezing a piping bag full of poo coloured pie filling.  “Not the most appetising, I admit.”  It looked like something a very ill Alsatian might leave on the kerb.  Everyone else battled to remove their pastry cases, like a woman in a nightclub desperate for a wee but wearing latex trousers that stubbornly refused to come off.  No that is NOT me circa 1993.  No such problem for Steven, however, who slid his pastry out of its mould like, well, like someone not wearing skin tight latex trousers.  “Air holes,” he confided. If only I’d known.

Stacey had left some baking parchment in her pie.  INSTANT DISQUALIFICATION, STACE.

At this point I was feeling pretty impatient and wanted the judging to take place because, ya know, Dr Foster finale and all that.  Oh well.  BBCiplayer I guess.

Meanwhile time was almost up and Yan was helping Steve get his topping sorted.  Aren’t Bake Off people lovely?  Stacey was sighing heavily in the background. “Absolute. Disaster.”

Sophie’s was great – hurrah! – but with some raw pastry – oh, boo.  Kate’s looked pretty, and Paul loved it.  Stacey’s “certainly looks home-made,” sniffed Prue.  ISN’T THAT THE POINT, PRUE?   Steven’s looked “really moist and attractive” – hurrah!  But “a bit of a let down on the flavour” – oh, boo again. Yan’s was “wonderful”.  Julia came in for some particularly cruel comments from Prue, who by now was going full Maleficent.


“I don’t think the asparagus works. The chicken is dry.  On the other hand…” yes? Would Prue be nice to Jules? “Your pastry is undercooked.” Well smell you, Prue.  Liam’s pie looked fabulous, and his grandma Cynthia was pronounced “a genius” (it was her recipe).

Liam won star baker – go Liam, you young’ un! – and Julia left.  Sandi cried, and so did we.  Lovely, lovely Bake Off.

Next week, Italian stuff.


The Great British Bake Off – episode five

Great British Bake Off

We come to pudding week <insert feeble pun here about Prue not being a judge to be trifled with> which is fine with me as I love a good soufflé <something about the bakers’ hopes deflating> but I loathe anything with custard <maybe a reference to a last stand? Needs work> so I was hoping for mainly chocolate-based deliciousness.

Signature challenge: steamed school pudding, served with an accompaniment.  What, like a string quartet? Oh, no.  “A custard, or a compote,” explained Noel.  Bleurgh to all of this.  My school puddings were bloody awful.  Maybe nuns can’t cook?

“We’re avoiding stodge at all costs,” said Steven.  Good luck with that, lad.  Yan was substituting breadcrumbs for a third of her flour.  Who the what now? Kate was making something to do with Mr Darcy.  Wet shirt vanilla sauce? Boiled breeches? We had to wait to find out.  Julia looked puzzled.  “We never had steamed puddings at school,” she confided woefully.  Lucky you, Julia.   Steven was doing something terribly clever with a syringe.  “Marbling,” pronounced Paul, confidently.  “Well, sort of,” replied Steven.

Cut to a dusty old gibber blathering on about puddings in sheeps’ bladders.    Ditch the history shizz, Channel 4.  Nobody cares.

Ad break.  It’s an odd thing that Dr Oetker sponsors Bake Off, given that its products are based entirely on its customers’ inability to cook.   Look at this crap:

Dr Oetker

Back to the judging.  “It’s a little bit dense,” said Paul to James.  “Not the lightest sponge,” said Prue to Sophie.  Steven got a Hollywood Handshake for his lemon and blackcurrant effort.  Yan got one for her mango and something or other pudding.  Liam’s was too stodgy, apparently.  “You’ve over-mixed it.  The gluten is too powerful.” What? Liam looked gutted.  Stacey’s was pronounced “absolutely delicious” and she too got a handshake.  Look Paul, what’s the point of the handshake if you dole them out so easily?

The technical challenge: it  was staggered.  Each contestant was called in one by one, and told what the challenge would be.  Six molten chocolate puddings filled with peanut butter.  One hour, then presented to the judges immediately.  Yikes, this was tricky, not to mention ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS and please can I have the recipe.

One by one the contestants filed into the tent.  Everyone confessed they’d never made anything like this before.  Sophie, who looks more and more like Pippa Middleton every week, burbled on about raising agents, Liam looked horrified, Yan was unperturbed, Julia talked to herself throughout and Kate admitted she’d never made a chocolate pudding “in my life”.   Stacey was my favourite: one glance at the recipe and a nonchalant “Not. A. Clue.”  We were told that the recipe didn’t tell the bakers how long the molten puddings should be in the oven.  Swines!  “I’ve got an inkling it won’t be very long,” said Sophie/Pippa.  “I think about 35 minutes,” said Kate.  “25 minutes,” said Steven.  “10 minutes,” said Yan.  HOW BLOODY LONG, SOMEONE TELL US FOR CHRISSAKE.

Sophie did spectacularly well. “I saw a lot of nodding,” she smirked triumphantly as she peered over towards the judges.  Steven’s were over-baked, Kate’s were “cracked… quite solid… massively over-baked… pretty dreadful”, which made her puddings sound like a poo produced, with some effort, by a person with constipation. James were “raw… bit of a failure”, Stacey’s had too many air pockets, which is apparently a crime in baking circles, and Liam’s were “excellent”.  Sophie won.  “I’m pleased,” she announced smugly. ” This has put me in a much better position,” she added, in the manner of Winston Churchill circa 1943, viewing successful military manoeuvres .   Kate had a more sanguine attitude to the whole thing.

Great British Bake Off

The showstopper.  An ornamental trifle terrine.  Mousse, jelly and something else.  I missed the final (sponge?) element as the cat was making pre-barfing noises. “Blarf! Hurk! Bleeargh! Blark! Blark! Blark!” and I had to find her, pick her up, run downstairs, open the front door and throw her outside in the 15 second window available before she regurgitated her Waitrose Adult Fish Pouch, the ungrateful bitch.  She used to survive on crapola Go Cat until one of my sisters gave her the good stuff and now she’ll eat nothing else.

Okay, back to the bakers.  Classic flavours, tradition, keep it simple, oh my that looks complicated, trifles galore, and nobody adding any beef with peas:


Mango lime chilli mouse (WTF), white chocolate bavarois, chocolate skylines of London and Hong Kong, silver leaf on meringue crowns and blimey charlie, these bakers are talented. Nobody, NOBODY, is a failure.  And they’re all lovely.  This is why Bake Off is so good.  Great people, great talent, simple but brilliant formula. That’s all it takes, TV people.  Oooh and later we can all watch the freakin’ MADNESS that is Dr Foster.

Oh no, Liam was close to tears. Sandi comforted him.  This is where the harsh shite that is X Factor gets it so wrong.  People are applauded for their ability to crawl over their dead relatives in order to warble  “Mysterious Girl”,  whereas kindness will always win the day – as Strictly demonstrates week after week.  Yes it’s a competition, but people aren’t mean to one another.   You’re welcome, Simon.

Back to the showstoppers. Sophie and Yan had produced marvels of baking.  Stacey’s was “spot on”.  Kate’s was “very good”, James’ was “too firm” and “not carrying much flavour” (ouch), Julia’s passion fruit jelly looked like something my cat was throwing up on the pavement, Steven’s was bloody outstanding, yet Paul said there was too much gelatine. “I don’t like rubber.”  Your sex life is your own affair, Paul.

Steven looked close to tears at this verdict.  Why? It was AWESOME.

Bake Off

Liam’s was “clumsy” and “the jelly’s not set.”

Star baker was Sophie, leaving the tent was James.  I was right, but there was no pleasure in it.  “My time has come.  Gutting. To be part of this has been really humbling.”  Julia cried her eyes out and it was James who comforted her.  This is the magic of Bake Off.  Lovely programme, lovely people.

Next week, pastry.



The Great British Bake Off – episode 4

Great British Bake Off

Yikes, caramel week.   Beautifully intricate sugar work, salted caramel and chocolate pots, tooth-destroying nut brittle and millionaire’s shortbread. Or third degree burns and a trip to A&E.

Tonight’s blog is brought to you courtesy of the most delicious pink fizz evah


Why I am not sponsored by at least one drinks company remains a mystery.  Help me out, someone.

So, baking.  “The tricky thing about caramel is….pretty much everything,” said Julia.  We hear ya.  The signature challenge was to make 18 identical millionaire’s shortbreads.  Three distinctive layers: shortbread, gooey caramel, and a thin layer of chocolate.    Doubtless some idiot would flavour their offering with bloody cardamom.

All the bakers set to work with their shortbreads and as per usual stared anxiously at their ovens, as if wishing were all it would take to make them perfect. But shortbread is a breeze compared with caramel, which requires the sugar to reach a precise temperature* (Yan chose not to bother with such fripperies, despite being a molecular scientist) and also tends to crystallize the second you turn your back.  There were salted peanut varieties, lime and chilli chocolate varieties, one based on jaffa cakes (YES), one using bay leaves (NO) and one containing rum (WINNER).  Paul swigged from the bottle like a tramp in a park.

Noel was pretty certain he’d uncovered Banksy. Although Yan denied it.

Steven’s orange and macademia efforts looked sensationally good, natch, but Paul didn’t like the flavours or the textures; Prue adored them. “I don’t really like sweet things.”  You don’t say.

Architect Tom had fucked up big style.  Prue put on her Primary school headmistress face and told him: “The textures are all wrong, the flavours aren’t good and you didn’t finish the task.”  Tom slunk off to detention.

Technical challenge time: Stroop Waffles (my mate Sam can’t get through a morning without at least one of these.  How he isn’t the size of a bungalow astounds me.  He knows his food though, so check out his blog here)

stroop waffles

Prue darling, as with puff pastry, this is the kind of thing you BUY, not make.  Still, she was keen to share her stroop expertise. “You have to go low and slow.”  Advice to live by, I think we can all agree.

The tedious history lesson returned – I thought we’d got rid of this tripe, Channel 4? – and then everyone had to present their stroops (not a euphemism).  Prue had abandoned her Primary school headmistress persona and was now behaving like a university vice chancellor who had just been told tuition fees were to be abolished. “Very grainy.  Dry.  Yes grainy again.  Very, very grainy.  Can none of you get caramel right?” The bakers all looked as though they would be joining Tom in detention.

Finally,  the showstopper.  One tier cake, three layers, spun sugar, caramel everything.  “There’s obviously a danger it will be too sweet,” warned Prue, who by this stage had abandoned all pretence of niceness and had gone full on Miss Trunchbull.    Meanwhile James shared his technique for making a particularly delicious cake.  “I dip my nuts.”  I’m sure you do darling.  But perhaps not before the watershed, even if this is on Channel 4.  The temperature in the tent must have been hotter than the sun as everyone had a puce face – even Noel.

I joke about them, but my goodness, I don’t believe Bake Off has ever had such a universally talented bunch of competitors.  Everything looked fabulous. There is boundless talent to spare with this bunch, even from those who were having a complete ‘mare, particularly Stacey. “It’s not as big an erection as I’d hoped.” We’ve all been there, Stace.

Prue, who has a full on crush on Liam (who knows it, and flirts with her), adored his cake.  Stacey was told her icing was too thin.  “It looks slightly slimy.”  Cheers, Prue.  Julia’s effort “ticked all the boxes”.  Yan’s was pronounced “fantastic” by Paul,  but the “sponge is a little bit tough” corrected Prue, who was unstoppable in her disdain. Steven’s red velvet concoction looked great but was judged to be “stodgy”, Tom’s cake was “basic, gluey, under-baked.”   He looked as though he had been called out of detention only to be handed his blazer by his parents and told he would be going to a new school next term.  Kate’s toffee apple bonfire thingy however was “masterful”.   She won Star Baker.

Tom was indeed sent home.  “He really did make a mess of it,” Prue threw after him as he dumped his homework in the bin and defiantly drew a penis on the blackboard.

Prue’s not someone you’d want making a speech at your wedding, is she?

*For a soft pliable caramel suitable for making fudge or praline, you want a boiling point of 112-115 degrees C. For a firmer caramel (good for making sweets), 116-120 degrees C. For nougat and toffee, 132-143 degrees C, and for the real deal, tooth-cracking toffee, 132-143 degrees C.  Although I daresay Paul knows differently.


The Great British Bake Off – episode three

Great British Bake Off

Bread week. Who would rise to the occasion and prove to be the best?  Yes, yes I went there. Oh please yourselves.

I hate bread week.  It gives Paul the opportunity to whang on about yeast and kneading and gluten when everyone knows Warburton’s medium sliced white (blue waxed paper variety) is better than any bread you can make at home anyway.

Proceedings kicked off with Sandi making a shockingly bad attempt at a Yorkshire accent – Hovis bread I assume, haha yes very funny how hilarious – and the signature challenge was to bake teacakes.  Paul and Prue spoke sternly to camera about proving, and how the large amount of butter in the dough would necessitate more time to prove than normal.  There was a lot of this stuff but I tuned out and rootled around in the fridge for some wine.

Back to Bake Off.  “James is always trying new things,” Noel informed us.  Is he? What, like 10 denier tights with an open toed sandal?  A three-way with the neighbours? No, turned out it was baking different types of dough. Borrrrrrr-ing.

Liam hadn’t got a clue what he was doing but that was no barrier to putting Paul in his place.   “I’m making stout and ginger and cinnamon teacakes,” he announced.  Oh really.  And what would be the texture of his offering? wondered Paul.  Liam, who clearly hadn’t the faintest idea, was nonetheless resolute in his response.  They would be be “tea cake texture.” “Which is …?” pressed Paul.  “Very nice.”  Ha!  Go Liam.  Julia talked about her unusual technique for kneading as she pummeled her dough viciously.  “I keep saying I LOVE YOU DOUGH!” Julia is mad. Who cares about teacakes anyway? They’re full of dried fruits, which as any fule no are the rabbit droppings of Satan.  Still, everyone tried their best and looked, as always, extremely worried.

James’ were pronounced “perfect”.  Liam’s were pronounced raw, and looked downcast, poor love.  Flo was told she needed more dried fruits in hers.  NO SHE DIDN’T.   Prue chowed down at Stacey’s station.  “It looks like a teacake, it tastes like a teacake…” And what?  Walks like a teacake?  Talks like a teacake? Alas, Prue had ground to a halt in her judgement and instead chewed thoughtfully, like a peaceful sheep in a field.

The technical challenge.  A cottage loaf.  Everyone had to make their dough by hand, no mixers, the swines.   Some of the contestants knew how to make a cottage loaf, a few looked panic-stricken.

cottage loaf

Paul explained to Prue the technique.

cottage loaf


Everyone started pulling their doughs (not a euphemism) and wittering on about gluten.  Side note here: Noel is turning out to be an excellent, funny and empathetic host. Well played, Channel 4.  Most contestants seemed to know that you’re supposed to stick your finger up to the second knuckle into the finished dough (again, not a euphemism).   No-one had any idea how long their loaves should take to bake, and by the end all the the contestants were sat on the floor, staring despairingly into their ovens.  “You’ve got five minutes left!” shouted Noel.  Everyone looked aghast.  “Mine is raw!”  “I’m not taking mine out until the last second.” “SERIOUSLY?”

Stacey had baked a superb cottage loaf.  Flo’s needed another 20 minutes in the oven.  “It’s not my fault.  It’s got a mind of its own.”  Liam’s didn’t have enough crust.  James’ loaf had collapsed completely and looked like a pale cowpat.  Prue admired Julia’s “rounded bottom”.  Steven’s effort, again, looked damned good.  Paul was unimpressed by Kate’s effort. “You should have stuck your finger in it,” he advised.  Most people would have responded by sticking their finger up Paul’s nose, but Kate chose instead to look downcast.

The Showstopper.  A colourful bread “structure” using three natural colourings.  Jesus, what the hell is one of those? “I’m going to SMASH this,” declared Liam.    Due to a tragic fluke of inattention, I thought I heard someone say they were making semen bread, but my daughter said no, and perhaps I should stop at one glass of wine.   There were mixed reactions on Twitter to the whole colourful structure shizz (I’m with @AndyGilder):


Liam’s looked like My Little Pony poos, but Noel was on hand to comfort him. “I couldn’t boil an egg at your age,” (19).  Yan confided that she had never made a dragon out of bread before, and Flo looked unhappy: “Mine’s a disgrace. I’m going home.”

Judging.  Yan’s dragon was pronounced too small and there was too much garlic.  Liam’s flavours were “fantastic” but his dough was under-proved.  Prue didn’t like any of James’ flavours but loved everything else.   Stacey’s bread was great but her flavours were “wrong”.  Steven’s effort looked “amazing” and tasted “delicately amazing.”  This bloke is going to win.  “Superb,” said Prue.

Flo’s appalling effort was a sort of octopus and treasure chest.  “It’s Tom Jones,” she told Paul and Prue.  Look I know he’s getting on and has had some pretty bad plastic surgery, but really.  That was harsh.  “No, no…. it’s Davy Jones…. Locker,” she corrected herself.  Either way, Prue wasn’t having any of it.  “Not your best effort.”

There was a pink rose that looked like a badly burnt penis from Tom, and a snail from Julia that looked like a cartoon circumcision.

Bake Off

Let’s just look at that again.

Bake Off

Paul, Prue, and all the contestants tried and failed to hide their giggles.

Who would be Star Baker? Blimey, it was Julia, bread knob notwithstanding.  “I didn’t expect that,” she breathed excitedly.  You and me both, Jules.  And it was goodbye to Flo, which was sad because she was absolutely great.  “I met some lovely people but I’m glad to get back to normal life,” she said, holding back the tears.

Next week, no idea.  I missed it because I was still laughing at the dough dicks.






The Great British Bake Off – episode two

The Great British Bake Off

“The old Bake Off can’t come to the phone right now.  Why?  Oh, ’cause it’s dead!”  But the new Bake Off is alive folks, so your writer got the rosé out of the fridge and fired up her Mac, ready to see if Noel and Sandy had managed to relax into their new roles.

Yes, as it turned out.  This week’s theme was biscuits.  There would be three biscuit-based challenges, all of them hideously difficult.  First up, the signature challenge: 24 sandwich biscuits, equally sized, equally coloured.  Paul took on the role of Confucius, the better to explain his requirements: ““If you combine a hard biscuit with a soft interior, it’ll go all over your lap.”  He sounded as though he was ordered a very specific kind of exotic dancer.

Quite a few recipes sounded vile – bloody cardamom, for GOD’S SAKE – but Tom’s coffee and amaretto doo-dahs appealed, and Sophie was making biscuits with lemoncino, Graham Norton/Chris was using whisky, Flo was using gin.  Hey gang, Bezza’s left the building, there’s no point ladelling the booze into everything now.   Rulers were produced, thicknesses measured, suddenly we were watching a woman sand a table, then we were back to biscuits.   Everyone peered worriedly into their ovens. “I want them more golden,” wailed someone (bear with me, I still haven’t learned who’s who) and there was a lot of very professional looking icing going on.

Prue, dressed in acid yellow and bright blue, told Sophie her biscuits were “beautifully tart”.   Tom’s biscuits were “a triumph”.  See, I know what’s good people, stick with me.

The technical challenge.  Fortune cookies, some almond, some orange. Inexplicably, nobody raced off to the nearest Chinese restaurant, but instead poured over the skimpy recipe and tried to work out what they had to bake.  “You can’t put all of them into the oven at the same time,” Paul informed Prue.  “And the killer thing is, the snap.”   It is? Perhaps Paul is secretly a fan of Legally Blonde.

Legally Blonde

What would they write for the fortunes? “A goateed smuggo will tell you he’s not getting any lemon.”  Not everyone could get the folding stuff right, fretting over their batter which had to be shaped over the bottom of a glass (look, you have to watch it, it’s impossible to describe).  Chris’s efforts looked like cornish pasties made for a family of Borrowers.  The stress levels were palpable.  Flo and Liam were close to tears.

The judging was painful.  Prue gagged and then spat out the feeble wodge that was  Chris’s underdone wad.  “Raw batter’s not much fun.”  Thanks, Prue.  The fortunes, however, were witty. “I’ve made a right mess of this” and “You will get bored writing fortunes” and “Today you will mostly poo candyfloss”.    Sophie came second, Yan came first.  Hurrah for Yan and, er, science!

Finally, the showstopper challenge which was hideously complicated.  A biscuit board game.  “You must be able to play your board game, and eat your board game,” Noel informed the competitors.


Remember those rainy days of your childhood, playing the classic game of Drain Pipes and Ladders? No, me neither.   Kate was making what looked like “Jumanji” but was called “Jungle” so she couldn’t be sued by Tristar.   Flo was making “Pick My Bones”,  which sounded like something played at a 1950s swingers party, and Julia was making something called ” A British Baking Game” so she couldn’t be sued by Bezza, Love Productions or Channel 4.   Alas, nobody was making Mousetrap, which to be fair is understandable, if disappointing


Chris explained the rules to his Great British Sail Off game, while Prue and Paul’s faces assumed the stoic expressions of a couple who have arrived at a Christmas party, only to be cornered by Uncle Colin who believes they should have turned off two miles before the A634 and taken the fourth left onto B276 which would have shaved at least four minutes off their journey.

The ads.  I vote the latest Admiral Car Insurance one the worst in history.  Look at us!  A WOMAN admiral!  A stupid man! This is bound to win us a whole bunch of Cannes Lions!

The bakers had produced the most amazing inventions; Prue loved anything that was iced in acidic lemon, the better to match the eye-watering hue of her jacket.  However she didn’t love much else.  The Jumanji board game “looks like a swamp” and “eating it is not going to be a huge pleasure.”   Stacey got the full pursed lips treatment and looked distraught.  But Steven nailed it with his 100 element board; he is my favourite to win (which is the kiss of death if my track record for I’m A Celebrity is anything to go by).   It was outstanding, and he won Star Baker for the second week.


(Photo courtesy of the Great British Bake Off)

Poor Chris went back to his day job of being Graham Norton’s double in his younger years (it’s a niche market).  Flo told us “I’ve let meself down terrible…. but you’re not gerring rid of me.”  Good.  Flo is fabulous.

Next week, bread.

The Great British Bake Off – Channel 4 Launch

Great British Bake Off

Ever since Channel 4 spunked £75 million on Love Production’s Great British Bake Off, there have been dark mutterings about how ad breaks would ruin the programme, and nobody but Mel and Sue could possibly present it.  And how would we cope without Bezza’s crinkly-eyed look of delight as she declared “The lemon is really coming through”?

On tonight’s showing, we’ll all cope just fine, actually.  There was some unfunny business with a hot air balloon at the start, but otherwise it was business as usual, kicking off with Cake Week, where everyone was baking, er, cakes.    The signature challenge was a “fruity cake”.  Some bloke called James produced a bunch (is it a bunch?) of rhubarb.  “That looks like proper rhubarb out of a garden,” said Prue to James. What else would it look like, for God’s sake? Flamingo legs out of a hanging basket?  Up your game, Prue.  St Mary of Berry would never have uttered something so obvious.

There were so many contestants at this stage it’s hard to keep up.  One memorable candidate for the Bake Off crown however was Yan, a biomedical scientist and footballer who had to write “turn the oven on” on her hand as a reminder.  AND THEN DIDN’T.  This bodes ill for biomedical science, folks.

There was a Scouse nana, who Paul loved, obvs, another Scouser (ditto), a dipshit with a spreadsheet called Chris who looked like Graham Norton’s younger brother, and er, lots of others.   One chap’s cake wasn’t fully baked.  A girl scampered around asking to borrow a small sieve.  Cut to the ads, which were uniformly terrible as they tried to make baking-related jokes, apart from PG Tips who got it wrong entirely and gave us a spoof of MasterChef.  Sack your agency, tea people.

Tasting.  “Bit boring.” “Not light as air.”  “The shine on the toffee is perfect.”  A Hollywood Handshake.  “It looks a bit rustic…. but nothing that a lot of custard wouldn’t help.” I like Prue!  I thought she’d be her usual acid drop self but no, she was sympathetic and smiling.  Another Hollywood Handshake.  This was all going too well.

Technical challenge: 12 chocolate mini rolls.  As always, I wonder what is the point of this round when you could nip down to the nearest Londis, blow a couple of quid, dump the wrappers in the bin, shimmy up to the gingham altar and announce “try finding fault with THESE puppies then, Hollywood!”  All the bakers looked puzzled about the inclusion of peppermint essence, as well they might.

Everyone sweated over their mini rolls, some of them looking fabulous, some of them looking like something unfortunate you might tread in on the pavement.  Noel and Sandi stood together, TV’s oddest couple, stars of an unlikely Disney film when a velociraptor makes friends with a pigeon.

The rolls were laid out to be judged.  Paul fingered them unhappily.  Prue was equally unimpressed. “For me,” she declared sadly, “there’s too much peppermint.” THERE SHOULDN’T BE ANY PEPPERMINT IN THE FIRST PLACE PRUE.

The show-stopper.  An illusion cake.  Yep, who wants a cake to look like a cake?  Sophie boasted that her champagne bottle cake looked so like a champagne bottle that when she made one for a friend’s birthday and took it to the party venue she was told by the bouncer she wasn’t allowed to bring in her own alcohol.   Nobody likes a show off, Soph.

Scouse nana Flo was baking a cake that looked like a melon.  “I don’t like melon meself,” she confided.  I love Flo.  Stacey wasn’t happy with her red velvet sponges, binned them and started again, poor love.  Steven was making a cake like a BLT sandwich.  Yan was making a cake she called banana ramen.

No not that.


But a chicken katsu fillet and mango salmon roe made with liquefied agar jelly. Berrlimey.

Kate was making a glacier mint glass terrarium housing buttercream houseplants which is not a sentence I ever thought I’d type.  She had designed the moulds herself, as had Peter.  The wealth of imagination and skill on offer was, frankly, breathtaking.

“A work of art,” said Paul of Yan’s effort, and indeed it was.  “Cake’s slightly too dry though.” The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

Graham Norton, I mean Chris, produced his pork pie cake.  “It’s too dense,” grumbled Paul.  Flo presented her water melon cake.  It looked astoundingly good, and all the other bakers looked thrilled for her.  “I love you Flo,” grinned Paul.  Peter’s bread cake (it’s a thing) wasn’t particularly successful,  Neither was Stacey’s black clutch bag cake, which looked burnt seaweed but apparently tasted delicious.  Sophie could not have looked more smug as her champagne bottle cake was presented.   The judges dug in.  Prue’s jaw worked in a circular motion for a considerable amount of time. “Surprisingly dry,” she coughed, witheringly.  Sophie resembled a sunken souffle.  Hubris, darling.

Steven’s BLT sandwich cake was stunning.  “It’s perfect.  The colour, the texture, the illusion… it’s all there.” The rest of the tent murmured their approval.   Bake Off contestants are lovely.  He was declared Star Baker.

Up came a pile of pancakes covered in whipped cream and berries from 19 year old Liam.  “I want to come to yours for breakfast,” innuendo-ed Prue.  “Anytime,” grinned Liam.  Filth! The spirit of Mel and Sue lives on.

Peter, who’d had a complete ‘mare of a couple of days, went home.   Noel gave him a great big hug.  Everybody cried a bit, including your writer.

Next week, biscuits.






The Great British Bake Off – THE FINAL!

The Great British Bake Off - The Final

The last ever Bake Off on the Beeb.  It’s the end of a madeira.  Oh please yourselves.

So – and now there were three. Who would win the royal-themed Great British Bake Off final? The country held its breath.  And its glasses of wine, if Twitter was anything to go by.  Mary Berry’s legacy to the nation is that everyone is now as keen on booze as she is.

Jane, Andrew and Candice lined up and were told to bake a filled meringue crown.  “Big enough for the whole Royal Family!” squeaked Mel.  What, all of them? They were going to need a bigger tent.  “It’s the final, and we’ve been waiting for this,” wrinkled Mary, wisely.  “I’m looking for it to taste good, look good, and…..” And what, Bezza? Have a secret layer of tequila-flavoured raspberries?  Be made entirely of gin?  “Be spectacular.” Oh.  I blame Nadiya (last year’s winner) for this royal shizz.  She’s always being papped with Her Madge.

Jane wanted her meringue to be “as white as possible” (should please Prince Philip) whereas Andrew wanted his to have a brown colour, using muscovado sugar and Candice, (looking all kinds of fabulous in a funereal black dress) wanted to go “a little bit further” and threw in some prosecco (should please Mary).   “Now for my cassis jelly jewels,” shimmied Andrew.  Is that what you kids are calling them these days?  He then bent over his oven to check his meringue and uttered the immortal words:

Great British Bake Off

Moving swiftly on, the judging.  “Your coulis is sharp,” declared Mary to Jane, who looked unsure as to whether or not this was a good thing.”  Candice and Jane got a Paul handshake (it’s just a handshake, calm down) but Andrew didn’t.  Andrew felt this was a worrying development.  What would happen in the technical challenge?

Victoria Sandwich.  Eh? Any fool can make one of those.  There were no instructions, no quantities, no recipe, no method, nothing.  Aha.  Evil.  The camera cut to a Victoria Sandwich so perfect it couldn’t be real.   “It MUST look like this,” said Mary firmly.  Paul’s mandarin orange complexion gaped at her in awe.

Everyone made their sponges, fretting about creaming methods and all-in-one methods, (“Mary likes the all-in-one method” said Jane, trying, and failing, not to look smug.)  They then started making their own jam.   Oh but Mary, you’re cruel.  “Everyone’s will look exactly the same, making it easier to compare them,” wailed Andrew, his jelly jewels presumably limp with worry.

Candice was told she’d made jelly not jam, because she’d taken the pips out.  Candice reacted as though she’d gone to the doctor with a slight rash on her knee and been told she needed her leg amputated.  Jane’s buttercream was a bit on the soft side and her jam was gluey.  She pulled a face that indicated she wished to destroy the government.  Andrew won.  “An even bake, a good jam, a smooth buttercream.”  What more can a girl ask for?  He should put that on his Tinder profile.

The biggest ever Bake Off final show stopper challenge. Five hours to make  12 puff pastry sausage rolls. 12 fruit and custard tarts (bleurgh). 12 savoury scones.  12 mini quiches (seriously Bezza, the 80s are over. Stop trying to make them happen) and a chocolate cake.  Essentially, a large picnic for alas unwritten Enid Blyton novel, “Five Go Mad With Pastry In A Tent”.

Candice made a chocolate orange and cardamom cake.  Bloody cardamom.  WHY?  Andrew produced a spreadsheet. Of course.  Jane made stuff like elderflower and something or other tarts and a four tier chocolate cake.  You won’t fit that in the picnic hamper, Jane.  There was a clip of Jane’s extremely good-looking children.  Why doesn’t one of them tell her to use Frizz-Ease? John Frieda is the way forward, Jane.  Knock that squirrel off your head.

So, 49 bakes, but only one oven.  “Time management has never been so important,” whispered Mel.   Meanwhile the other bakers were sat outside the tent having a great old time, giving their tips for who would triumph.  Selasi wanted Andrew to win.  I WANTED SELASI TO WIN.  Jane had the most supporters.  Would she steal it from the other two?   Val was firm.  “Candice.  She’s VERY focused.”  Val gave no indication as to whether she approved of this.  Jane’s chocolate collar wouldn’t peel off the greaseproof paper.  She pretended not to mind.


God but it was amazing – they were baking at the speed of light (whatever that is, I didn’t pay a lot of attention in physics at school) and everything looked bloody gorgeous.

Mary thought the Queen would love Jane’s colourful picnic.  “Great chocolate cake”, smiled Paul.  “Shame about the collar.”  He giveth, and he taketh away, folks.

“It’s beautifully displayed,” said Mary of Andrew’s spread.  “But such a thick layer of undercooked pastry, I think I’ll be leaving that.”  His cake fared better.  “That’s a great cake.”

Finally, Candice, who looked terrified.  “It looks an exciting hamper,” said Mary, happily.  “I love your little piggies.”  (Sausage rolls folks, she hadn’t cooked her toes.)  “Beautiful LAAAAAAIIIRRRRRS.”   The tarts were a little over-baked (apparently) but “that’s a good custard.”  Paul looked closely at her cake whilst Jane also stared at it intently.  “Let there be snakes in it,” she seemed to be praying.  “Or a great honking dog poo.” Bad luck, Jane.  Her chocolate orange and bloody cardamom cake was a triumph.  Had Candice got this in the bag, or rather the hamper?   The bakers joined their cheering family and friends whilst Bezza and Paul tried to pick a winner.

Candice won.  Of course she did.  She is a superbly talented baker and she deserved it, and all the people on Twitter and in the newspapers who said a ton of mean things about her lipstick and her pout can just EAT IT.  She cried while Jane and Andrew cheered her heartily, like the good sports they are.  “I did it,” she wept quietly.  “I’m good enough.”  Of course you are.  They all are.

So, that’s it.  Bake Off moves to Channel 4, without Bezza, and without Mel and Sue.  It is such a truly lovely programme that I really, genuinely hope it is successful on another channel.  There’s enough meanness and cruelty in the world.  Let’s have more cake.






The Great British Bake Off – Semi Final

The Great British Bake Off

So we kicked off with Selasi saying if he made it into the final, he’d wear a dress.  PLEASE LET SELASI MAKE IT INTO THE FINAL.  A very funny arthouse homage to French cinema (patisserie week, innit) from Mel and Sue, and then the bakers were up their elbows in palmiers.    Palmiers are easy peasy to bake, folks.  They are also a delicious party snack, the kind that you can cram into your mouth one after the other in vast quantities before realising that everybody is looking at you, and not in a good way.  Just me, then?  Oh please yourselves.

Selasi admitted he’d never made palmiers before, and Mary said “laaaaairs” several times.   There was an interesting spat between Jane and Candice, when it seemed that Jane was carefully watching Candice’s every move – for hints? tips? straightforward copying? – and Candice hissed “I CAN HEAR YOU WHISPERING” in a hey-I’m-only-joshing-I’m-not-really tone.   Selasi finished Sue’s sentences for her and then gave everyone a time check.  “Don’t take this away from me!” laughed Sue.  “Time checks with puns is all I have!”  Selasi grinned, and then went over to Andrew’s bench to help him because Andrew was having a complete ‘mare.  I love Selasi.  Candice wasn’t wearing any lipstick so Mel decided to apply some for her because “you, without lipstick, just isn’t right”.  I also love Mel.

Tasting time.  Jane had turned the same colour as her cerise T-shirt, so the only way to know where her face ended was by the bristling squirrel located about 12 inches above her neck.  Oh Jane.  Why the terrible haircut? In fact, why do women of a certain age choose this haircut? It’s one of life’s mysteries.

Jane: underdone and oily (sounds like an Italian bloke I once dated).  Candice, beautiful flavour, didn’t look like palmiers.  S elasi – okay, Andrew, okay.  Candice is looking good for the winner, but who knows?

Next up, the technical challenge.  A Savarin, which is sort of yeast and booze, basically.   Don’t bother, folks.  Have a sandwich and a beer instead.  Yet again, Selasi had never made one.   Nobody knew what they were doing and everyone tried different methods: Selasi didn’t beat anything, Jane used a dough hook, Candice melted butter, Andrew hurled it all in one bowl.  This is Mary’s doing – who bakes crap from the 1970s apart from Bezza, eh? Someone needs to drag her into the 21st century, pronto.  “How is it everybody can make caramel and I can’t?” wailed Jane, now a shapeless fuschia blob topped by a welcome mat.

Paul didn’t hold back in his criticism. “Overcooked and under-prooved.” He could have been referring to the latest ITV Agatha Christie adaptation, but was actually being rude about Candice’s effort.  “The membrane is off the orange, which is nice,” said Mary of Andrew’s bake.  Innuendo central.  Selasi’s was declared to be the wrong colour, and, horror of horror, he’d left the membrane on his orange.  Ahem. Jane’s caramel had crystallised.  And yet she won.  Selasi looked despondent.  Noooooooo.

The showstopper.  36 fondant fancies, of two types. Genoese sponge, buttercream and glossy fondant.  Argh.  They are SO difficult to get right.  “Time really is important,” said Andrew, glumly.  “I want to see SHOP STANDARD FANCIES,” glowered Paul.  You do? Then buy them from a bloody shop, mate.

Everyone came up with inventive ideas for their fancies.  “I never sieve my flour,” confessed Selasi.  Mary looked as though he’d just done a poo on her kitchen table, stuck a candle in it and wished her Happy Birthday.  “BUT YOU MUST SIEVE!” she corrected, in a horrified tone. “Er, okay,” said Selasi, with a “calm down you loon” look on his face.

Candice’s fancies looked  “Could do with tidying up,” said Paul. Oh shut up. “Textures are spot on though.” As you were, Paul.  “You’ve made two cracking fondant fancies,’ added Mary.  Candice to win, anyone?

Selasi’s weren’t all that.  “The white chocolate isn’t coming through,” said Mary.  “There’s very little sponge, but then the  lime IS really coming through.” DRINK, everyone. Jane had made a bollocks of hers, and looked close to tears.  She’d iced hers in the same colour as her face, ie fuschia pink.  “So sad you didn’t put anything on the outside of them,” sympathised Mary.  “They’re very lumpy. But the lemon’s coming through.” Anyone playing the GBBO drinking game (copyright, my daughter) would be in an alcoholic coma by this stage.  Andrew’s were too buttery.  “The mocha’s coming through.” Christ, enough with the coming through, judges!  When this programme moves to Channel 4 (pah) the new judges need to think of something else to say.

It was goodbye to Selasi.  Everyone was genuinely sad to see him go.  “No-one’s more sad than me to see him go,” said Mary.  “What a character, what a baker.”  Goodbye, Selasi.  Jane said she was crying that he had gone.  Andrew, however, was made of sterner stuff. “I’m in the final. YESSSSS!”  Nobody likes a show-off, Andrew.

Until next week, folks. Can’t wait. Also, Candice for the win.