I am so excited you guys!!!!! I am recapping AND watching The Great British Bake Off for the very first time and I hear it's the best.show.ever. It's also the favourite show of a few of my favourite people, including Violet, PL and DM. Without further ado, let's roll GBBO S7:E1 Cake Week after the break!
Just a quick introduction before we wade into the custardly fray; I am TalksTooMuch if we haven't met before, but you can call me TTM. I was a baker years and years and YEARS ago, and still bake all our bread and baked goods and am very opinionated on things I DON'T know anything about, so since I do know a little bit about this... That was a warning. C'mon, it's going to be fun! And I know very little about super fancy stuff, so I promise I'll just watch those bits.
We open with Mel and Sue in front of the iconic GBBO tent sorting through a box full of kitchen implements (except the one at the bottom, that's from home, don't touch that), what are they missing? Hmmm *polite cough* perhaps the 12 contestants standing next to them! Welcome! Let's meet everyone!
First up is Jane Beedle, whose bio says she's a garden designer who bakes bread at 5 am most days. She can't believe she was picked out of all the people that applied!
Then we have Val, 66, from Yorkshire who was a school teacher and has been baking since she was 15. She lives in Somerset and the sight of the tent brought it all home for her "It's real, it's THERE!"
12 year old Michael, okay, he's 20 but he may as well be 12, has been studying politics and economics at Durham. Er, whut? He's scurred, like walking into school for the first time (like, yesterday, right?)
Lee thinks it's like an exam even! He's the oldest contestant at 67 and is currently a pastor. I shall try to refrain from any anti-church rants in his presence.
Tall blonde Louise, 46, a hairdresser from Cardiff, was dreaming about GBBO even last night!
12 year old GinjaNinja Andrew is actually 25 and an aerospace engineer. Holy shite. What were you doing at 25? I know I was doing slightly less than aerospace engineering for Rolls Royce, along the lines of trying not to vomit rye on anything that could stain. He is waiting for the Hollywood Handshake!
Candice is a 31 year old PE teacher with a PUG!!! A PUG!!!! I love pugs, I had pugs, I would have pugs about in a heartbeat and I'm way off-path here. Right, right, she can't wait to meet Mary Berry and ask her to be her nan: ME EITHER!! She looks almost exactly like everyone I knew in 2002; brunette, far too much makeup, including brown-red lipstick; giant scarf and leather jacket. It's as though I already held her hair!
Rav isn't hoping for third, no sir, and only in England or Canada would anyone have to explain that they hope to win. Everyone else is going to be surprised they were even allowed on premises, you watch. It's like the anti-American show!
Benjamina with the degree in economics "has cried over cake" and haven't we all? Or cried on cake, or cried while eating cake but probably NOT cried while baking cake. Salt, see, baking being a science and all.
Tom has lost 70 pounds and has shouted over pie. That's all I got so far. A haircut or a firm combing wouldn't go astray.
Selasi is adorable, 30 and of Ghanian descent; he thinks he's just too laid back to shout at foodstuffs. We'll see about that, mister! He works in the financial district.
Kate is a 37 year old nurse who thinks she was in labour last time she was this nervous and that's all of them, yay!!
Ahhh the visuals on this show!!! I love bread!! I love cake! This is going to be AWESOME.They're both much trickier to make than you would think, it's 100% science, 100% art, 100% beauty and 0% Maths.
Mel and Sue have got their wires crossed, one's rounding up Kates (can I get a special dispensation for a Cate? She's amazing!) and the other is setting up for Cake Week, so
There are three challenges in each show?? What?? That seems like a LOT! The first challenge is a drizzle cake, Selasi thinks that's fine, sure, but they're reminded: the key word to this challenge is Mel's favourite word: MOIST
They have 2 hours to bake Paul's favourite cake, no "presh" and they're off!
Lookit all the mixers!! I want the eggplant one!! Paul tells us (he's quite the silver fox, isn't he??) that they're taking it back to basics this year, which doesn't mean EASIER, bakers, he thinks the judging might even get a little bit "harder."
Mary (hi Mary!!! I heard great things about you and that you will be me and Candice's nan!) says the classic drizzle cake is lemon, but she wants the bakers to think out of the box. I see an orange being zested, so someone is experimenting in the citrus field!
The judges visit Val first, she's making an orange and lemon drizzle cake and using margarine so I need to sit down for a minute. Surely there is butter there somewhere?? Check someone else's table, pinch it if you have to. Margarine?? Paul's nan used it too, but. She's doing a double drizzle and likes to walk while baking. I do that while I'm 'capping, that same kicking and moving my legs. I'm worried because I FINK she was trying to open up a milk container and in cakes, milk equals the exact opposite of moist.
Andrew is doing the traditional lemon drizzle cake and Louise has gone right off the reservation with orange liqueur and lemonade. Er. Paul warns her to not make the Cointreau icing too thick, she'll want that moistness in the cake. She figures he might well know what he's talking about.
Lee with the eggplant mixer didn't warm up his butter quite enough, he's got a bit of a clump situation in his orange / lemon drizzle cake which he's infused with religious meaning, sorry, sorry, stopping now.
Other bakers are moving along, no worries, while they tell us that the perfect wet / dry ratio will be critical for the cake. The sponge has to be firm enough to support the drizzle while tasting light.
Michael is either 19 or 20 (or 12), depending on whether you listen to the show or look up cast bios, whichever you like! He's making a Lime, Ginger and Honey Drizzle Cake and pass.
Selasi is using cardamom in his cake and I now I have to say! I make a great lemon drizzle loaf and I use freshly ground cardamom innit and it is DIVINE. His cake is called a Citrus and Spice Drizzle Cake. Sue's noticed his laid back attitude (carefully and slowly cutting each cardamom pod in half before ever so slowly grinding it with a mortar and pestle) and asks him what's up? This is his relaxation, though, it can get pretty stressfull working in the financial district; "like a global financial collapse?" she asks? Awkward laughs all around!
Two bakers are using fresh fruit in their pans, Kate is using apple slices for her Berry Best Apple and Bramble Drizzle Cake and it looks pretty in the draw-ring!
Candice is using rhubarb. She likes anything tart *lemon sucking face* and I am not touching that. She's baking her Raspberry and Rhubard Drizzle Custard Bundt Cake and that sounds complicated. It's gluten-free. I probably shouldn't say anything about gluten because I fear some of you lovely readers may be offended. She's going to add some custard at some point (that's the bit that sounded complicated), Mary asks how? She's going to "poke it in there" and I'm not touching that either. Or a gluten-free cake, for that matter. *crossing myself*
Benjamina (do you think someone's parents were expecting a Y chromosome? Or is that a super popular name in England? How about her twin sister Benita that doesn't sound at all like a traditionally male name(totes does too)?) is making a loaf! Yay! Hers is a Pistachio, Cardamom (woot!) and Lemon Drizzle Cake (loaf). Mel slides up and warns her; they can still see her here at the back, there's no hiding!
I may have been distracted by the gorgeous baby blue fridge and counter set up behind Benjamina; everything looks like candy and I JUST WANNA LICK IT!!
Cakes are in the oven!
Oh shoot, Jane left her ground almonds out and that was part of her flour. That sounds like a pretty big problem. She's been making her Lemon and Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake for decades, and she decided to start over. The judges are worried, there's not a lot of time.
Sue tells everyone they have one hour left! One hour left to make their "drizz the shizz!"
Selasi also forgot an ingredient, so he's slooowly remaking his cake with the omitted cinnamon, I dunno man, I might do what Candice suggests and add it to the shizznit drizzle.
Tom is making a Gin and Tonic (he has my attention) Drizzle Cake: THREE shots of gin! THREE! He's making a curd out of reduced tonic water, hmmm. It's a love it or hate it curd.
Selasi is just gonna add the cinnamon to the syrup, whew. That's what baking is, improvisation. And no, no that is the opposite of what baking is. Improvise all you want while you are cooking, baking is a science. Why am I scolding a young man half a world away from me about what he does with his own cake? I'm putting myself in time out
I think it's a bit of a nightmare having to use a different oven under pressure, every time I've gotten a new one it takes ages to sort out the temperature fluctuation and the hot spots and all that good stuff; in a situation like this you really have to go by look, smell and, according to Val: sound. Her cakes sing to her when ready!
Louise's cakes look like boobs, Sue calls them the "Page 3 of drizzle cakes" and I'm so sorry, guys, I just saw the word count and the time and if you need to go get some bevvies or stretch your legs during this recap, you make sure you do it. It's gonna be a long one.
Rav's using Yuzu for his Ginger Spice Yuzu Drizzle Cake, nobody knows what that is! Japanese citrus, sure!
Andrew's Irish, not English (course, he's a ginge) and he has a precise method for getting the drizzle in his loaf: he pokes it all over with a toothpick. He hopes it will give him an edge, but absolutely every other baker is poking holes in their cakes as well. Like you would.
Kate is waiting for the perfect temperature to add the drizzle, not too warm, not too cool and I do my drizzle in three stages because I just do, that's all.
10 minutes on the drizzle, or "wet cake, as they call it in Croydon."
Oh I do not like Candice's cake, and I would not like it even if I didn't know it was gluten-free. It is TOO busy.
Lousie's looks fun! It's an orange! Er, but it's cracking apart and hmm. Val's messing around and knocks over her tray of primroses that she's planning to decorate her cake with, disaster!
Time's up! Move your "purple ring to the end where I can see it, Kate" AND I BEG YOUR PARDON?
First up is Benjamina's: please excuse my ratty pictures throughout, my resolution wasn't the best
Mary's concerned that it's not quite baked, so she's trying the end she's not sure about. It IS baked, and she gets kudos for the flavour and mouth-meltiness
Lee's looks very traditional:
And Mary had noticed he had total separation between his butter and sugar earlier, which had resulted in great flavour and "the texture is awful." It does not look good for our Lee.
And as a drizzle cake, it's a great ginger cake, so.
Kate's fruity cake or "purple ring" as Sue called it (I BEG YOUR PARDON):
has lost it's blackberry flavour, which is a shame, he was looking forward to the flavour. We saw her squeezing her kiddo-picked blackberries not 30 minutes ago!
Tom's cake looks...
Like it's not entirely on purpose. He also didn't double drizzle, Paul notes, but he likes the way the sponge feels against his knife. The flavour, tho. It makes Paul and Sue gag, she can't feel her face any more and Paul says all the alcohol killed the taste. I mean, I adore a good G&T but yeah, pine-scented cake apparently doesn't translate well.
Candice's fruity whatsit isn't MY cuppa:
And the judges think it isn't a drizzle cake either, but rather a delicious pudding
Rav does not do as well
There isn't enough flavour in the loaf and they can't identify whatever flavour there is, so: "watch your flavours" Paul tells a smiling Rav. Er
Gets whacked for not enough lemon but Mary thinks the rosemary ratio is just right
The Orange Liquor Ball is up next, it looks sooo gimmicky
And is too dense and oddly: lacking orange flavour
Val's is so pretty!! And doesn't look at all like a drizzle cake, perhaps it's wet under all that icing
Oh, well, pretty from the top, anyway, the icing went everywhere, notes Mary. Oh and the judges want to know "where's the drizzle??" too! And it's dry! Sorry, Val, I guess your cake was singing off key
Selasi's cake is also hella busy looking
And Paul waaaiiiitttts....and then "the flavours are fantastic." Mary gives him props for fast thinking and popping that missed ingredient in the drizzle while Candice and I stare hard at the side of Selasi's head. If I knew how to do gifs I would do her face after, very "THAT WAS ALL ME, THAT!"
Jane's is, well, it's kind of
But the judges LUUUVVVVVV it, Paul calling the flavour "beeeeeeaaautiful" and everyone waxing ecstatic about the drizzle penetration, the icing the everything. She's the one to beat and looks as though she's about to cry.
All the bakers give feedback on their feedback, poor doomed Lee can only move forward.
Hmm, the bakers knew about the drizzle cake, but not the second or third challenges, let's see what the second has in store! It's a Technical Challenge, from Mrs. Mary Berry herself and she suggests that you do thing in the order given. Paul's sent off to the soft play area with a warning to not hurt himself on the balls (good advice all around today!) and Mel explains the challenge. The bakers are to make 12 jaffa cakes. Sue explains jaffa cakes the cakes thusly: "whipped fatless sponge, orange jelly and slathered in chocolate" which makes Mel drool (her hair braiding is very interesting!).
The bakers get identical ingredients and Mary's recipe, Val calls the instructions "ambiguous" and I am worried for our fit baker. For Selasi too, who hasn't ever made jaffa cakes before. Mary chose the cakes because they're a quintessential British cake but also technically quite difficult. Paul's quite enjoying the sample jaffa cakes, dipping it into his tea and Mary is HORRIFIED. "We don't do that in the south, you know" and I won't hold that against her, she's lovely. I quite like the north, it's where all the Happy Valley and Last Tangos are! Basically, it's where Sarah Lancashire, Sally Wainwright and George Costigan are, so I'm good.
It seems this is a very technical Technical challenge and it's interesting how many different methods our bakers are coming up with. For example: it appears Jane and Benjamina are whipping their sponges over heat and since they both got rave reviews for their cakes, I am listening.
Little things are tripping everyone up, too, like how much batter to put in each muffin tin. Andrew's looks HELLA full, how will he get the jelly and chocolate on properly? There isn't any timing in the instructions, either, so everyone is hunched down in front of their ovens, periodically opening the doors and peering closer.
Kate's forgotten what a jaffa cake even looks like, and that's stress for you! Val didn't grease her pan quite enough but Andrew's sponges are massive. He has a "rogue strategy" of cutting off the bottom and we'll see.
Mel's querying as to whether Candice changed anything in the recipe? Candice's pause worries Mel, what?? What did you do?? She added a bit of orange juice to the jelly and Mel is HORRIFIED! Where did you even GET the orange juice?? FROM THE ORANGE, MEL, hahahahahahahaha too funny.
Dipping time! Benjamina is torn between two sizes of cutters for the orange jelly; they're very close but could mean the difference between success and failure, so she's having a hard time pulling the trigger. Just choose one, it'll be awesome! She goes large and I think that's a mistake. Sorry, sorry!
Side note: I've never had a jaffa cake
Neither have Val or Jane, they can't sort out whether the orange is supposed to be on top or bottom, but Tom's all over it. Oh dang, and Jane chooses upside down, flip those, lady!
Now the chocolate sauce and Louise isn't making anything but a MESS. Selasi is using an icing bag: approve. Control that chocolate flow. I see spoons, spatulas, the works.
Oh and Andrew is also doing them upside down, but at least Jane's sorted out that they look a bit funny and will do the rest the right way.
There are some wonky, wonky looking jaffa cakes, but I won't be taking pictures, as they all sort of look the same, except that some got dropped on the way, apparently.
Benjamina's look awful but have a lovely sponge. Louise's chocolate is dull because it got too hot; Paul calls them "uniform...ly bad" and you can actually see Louise go through 4 emotions in a split second. She's not going to make it, Paul! I have a soft spot for her, but I don't think I can explain without sounding condescending. Let's just say it can be hard to break out of a a particular mold after a certain amount of time.
Michael's cakes have too much jelly, Jane gets knocked for her indecision, and Lee's don't even look like jaffa cakes. Kate and Tom do well. They're two of the only ones who have seen jaffa cakes previously and I'm sure that helped. Candice does well, Andrew does NOT and Rav's chocolate is too thick and his sponge is uneven. Paul notes Val's uneven bottom (I BEG YOUR PARDON) but they LOVE Selasi's: they look like real jaffa cakes!
In order of worst to best:
Andrew: Lee, Val, Lousie, Rav, Jane, Benjamina, Candice, Kate, Michael, Tom and Selasi takes it, yay!
The next morning, we have the last challenge of this episode, with a Star Baker being crowned at the end. Let's see what the Show Stopper challenge is today!
The judges sit an discuss the bakers, and Mel throws out there that she will be presenting with no pants today, all nude.
When they explain to the bakers, she totally has pants on. I can't be the only one who checked? The baketestants will be making a Mirror Glaze Cake for the Show Stopper challenge, that sounds TRICKY!
Mary explains: a mirror glaze is like the polish on a posh car. Something you would see in a French patisserie, a highly polished glaze.
Paul thinks the bakers should go small and beautiful, really show off their chops.
Jane's making a Chocolate Orange Mirror Cake, which involves orange jelly again but also dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate! Louise is making White Chocolate Trifle Mirror Glaze Cake, pass.
The bakers have to make a genoise out of whipped eggs and sugar, it's temperamental and tricky. Benajamina is making White Chocolate Mirror Glaze with Salted Praline Buttercream, also pass.
WHITE CHOCOLATE IS NOT CHOCOLATE
Selasi is making a Raspberry, Sloe and White Chocolate Mirror Glaze Cake and I once got completely schknockered as a teenager on Sloe Gin, so I won't even scream about the white stuff. Ohhh no, Candice lost count while adding butter, wait, I thought this was also a fatless sponge?
Andrew is baking an Ultimate Indulgence Mirror Glaze Cake and he has my attention. Rav is also using chocolate in his Columbian Mocha Mirror Glaze Cake and did he just dump espresso powder into his mix? No, no, they wouldn't do that here, it must have been a light cocoa powder.
It was not light-looking cocoa powder.
Michael is making a Macha Tea Chocolate Mirror Glaze cake, er. I don't think green tea tastes like anything, but Mary thinks it smells like dried grass.
Time to take the genoise out of the ovens and holy cow: there is so much variation in colour, due to the addition of cocoa, mocha powder (whut?) etc!! We have practically translucent all the way to dark, dark brown. Selasi's cake is the palest and Lee's the darkest.
Candice's sponge didn't rise at ALL, she's self-flagellating in the corner while we learn she will be making a Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Who is The Shiniest Cake Of Them All? with 800 things stuffed in, of course. The judges arrive to see her wee rubbery sponges, she has to start again, so Paul calls her bluff and has her fling one at the window. Sue's not wasting that, she'll have it later with her tea!
It's going badly all over the room, most people are making sponges again, genoise are VERY tricky. Tom's doing a Black Forest Broken Mirror cake with a whole lotta kirsch. I hope it goes well. I've heard Mary really likes the boozy cakes, but nobody liked his G&T drizzle cake, the alcohol overpowered. Oh yay, he's using MUCH less ethanol this time.
Lee isn't holding back anything, though, his Strawberry Surprise Mirror cake has two layers of chocolate ganache and two layers of fresh strawberries and a layer of strawberry jam besides. Paul questions the lack of cream and Lee sort of leaps at it: does Paul think he should use cream instead of ganache in a layer? Paul stops short of providing any substance recommendations, but his face says "GOD YES"
Kate's gotten fancy in her cake-naming like Candice: One Swallow Does Not Make A Summer Cake, which doesn't mention that it's almost entirely make of gooseberries. It's about the swallows, though, on top of the cake. There were swallows at her wedding and there are swallows on her ears and all over her dress.
Val's making a Chocolate Sponge with Four Fruit Frosting and she's BIZZAY, Paul, come back when it's all done!
The second round of sponges are going well for most of the bakers, but Tom drops his and I stopped breathing. That's all right, he'll put it on the bottom! Candice's sponge is not going very well.
Lee's having a very hard time today. Hang in there, Lee! It'll get better! It's getting very exciting!! Benjamina looks worried, and oh, she cries. I maybe cried with her, she seemed so devastated! Sue reminds her, every second spent crying is a second not spent showing them how awesome she is and to be fair, she never STOPPED baking, she was just crying over her mixer.
Andrew looks worried, Candice knocks her cake OFF THE RACK eeehhh (oh you...Mother Hubbard) and it's time to GLAZE!!
Eeeeeehhh! Kate's bright blue glaze is too thick, yeah?
So many gorgeous cakes!!
Louise is sniffling, Jane looks like she's going to throw up and it's RAINING. Judging time!
Jane is up first and while I think it's gorgeous, Mary looks concerned and Paul pooches his lips in a not-happy manner. It does appear to be slightly lopsided
Paul and Mary give great feedback, though, looks great, less is more: but Mary says "good" a lot and not "great.
Rav's pretty pretty chocolate covered cake
Gets kudos for his smashing shiny cake, but the genoise is dry.
I love that Tom did a Broken Mirror effect!
But this time he needed MOAR alcohol in his cake
Michael's dry grass cake
Is weird. Mary didn't like the flavour.
Oh and Kate's thick glaze looks awful
Her swallows look like penguins in the sea but the flavour is good. Just a horrible mirror glaze. On the mirror glaze cake challenge.
Selasi's pretty red cake
Does not have a mirror glaze, for the mirror glaze challenge, so Paul and Mary search around for something nice to say. Well, shut my mouth, I don't think Mary would say something like "it was a joy to eat" if she was just being nice, would she??
LOOKIT VAL'S CAKE!! Now THAT'S a mirror glaze! I want all of that in MY MOUF
But she's done something off with the buttercream. I think maybe she messed up the castor sugar; she was having trouble sorting out which canister was which.
Oh Lee. Your cake looks terrible, and I'm sorry you're having such a bad couple of days. Everyone has to be at a certain level to be here so I'm sure he's just having a rough run of it. If he makes it through, I'm sure things will turn around for him.
The genoise is dry, the berries make no sense, there is no topping and the ganache is dry.
Louise looks SO NERVOUS and her cake looks not-shiny and super lopsided.
Everyone is silent as the judges taste it: great inside, terrible outside.
Benjamina is next and her cake looks so pretty and professional!
Mary loves the shine and the well-executed simplicity, let's taste! "That's lovely" says Paul, after making her wait for it and it's a good result!
Candice's creations just look so BUSY. If she was on Project Runway, they'd call it "overdesigned"
It's so pretty inside! But the genoise is uncooked and Paul calls it awful. She apologized and cries back at her station and don't cry, Candice! Then I'll cry and you did a really interesting cake! Did you see Lee's? You're fine! At least it wasn't gluten-free!
I've been waiting this whole time for Andrew's cake:
LOOK AT IT!!!! I was holding my breath while the judges tasted it, saying "pleaseandrewpleaseandrewpleaseandrew" and they LOVE it! "Absolutely stunning" from Paul even! That poor lad needed a boost after his coming in last in the jaffa cakes technical challenge. "Well done" yay!
The judges deliberate and then we have the first Star Baker of 2016! It's Jane and that's who I thought would take it! Her or Selasi, her mirror glaze was better but his jaffa cakes were far superior. And the right way up.
The person leaving today is: Lee. Awww, poor Lee, he's disappointed, but honestly, he's just having an off day. He's top 12! Mary warns Val: she'll really have to pull her socks up and her husband apparently just wants to know what's for tea?
So that's it!! Thank you so much to PL, DM and Violet for introducing me to this lovely show with all the bakies, I've got to run and bake a birthday cheesecake for my mister for HIS tea, see you next week!