Great British Bake Blog: Episode One

Bake Off is back! And, just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, it’s now on Channel 4 with a fresh line-up of presenters alongside the blue-eyed male judge, Paul Hollywood.

Like millions of other sofa-dwellers around the country, I tuned in. Although in my case, and I suspect others, it was with less excitement than previous seasons.

There was no familiar thrill when the theme tune sprang to life – instead I was annoyed that the credits remained the same as they had when it was on the BBC. Has Channel 4 made no effort to spruce it up a little?

Noel Fielding was certainly spruced up in his gothic scarecrow kind of way - what was with that shirt covered in crows? However, this was nothing on the loud floral number worn by contestant Chris.

Noel’s humour, at least at the beginning of the episode, seemed out of place and forced. There was no camaraderie between him and Sandi, the jokes stiff and stilted. His awkwardness was evident, and he was open about not belonging. The audience felt this too. That was until he ate an entire marigold and promptly spat it back out again. Suddenly, I was enamoured with him, reminiscent of the way I felt about his boyish charm when I first watched The Mighty Boosh.

He had the best lines as well. Despite claims from Sandi in the press that there would be no double entendres, comments such as “I’m looking forward to a moist clutch” and discussions of a “gilded pear” made their way into the final edit. Not that I was complaining. Bereft of the comedy stylings of Mel and Sue, this provided a satisfactory replacement.

We should probably talk about the cake. And the contestants. The first round in which they were challenged to make fruit cakes, with fresh fruit, was something of a disaster. There were soggy bottoms galore - and don’t even get me started on Julia using courgette based on the technicality that it contains seeds. Vegetables, and their brethren, have no place in cake! Neither does five teaspoons of baking soda, as Peter proved.

Steven’s Bonfire Cake, made with apple and cinnamon, looked divine. He deserved the coveted handshake from Paul for that effort. If ever Futurama’s Smell-O-Vision became reality, I would go back and re-watch this episode just to sniff it.

The technical challenge saw the bakers tasked with mini rolls. My initial thought was why would anyone bother making mini rolls when Premier Foods makes perfectly good Cadbury ones? Secondly, who puts peppermint cream in a mini roll? Stop! You’re ruining it!

The internet was equally outraged – the only plus side of the ad breaks is that it gives me a chance to check Twitter. One user said: “I can accept the new channel and line-up. But peppermint in a mini roll?” Another added: “Put peppermint flavour in my mini roll and I will come for you in the night”.

Despite that, the technical was a delight if only because it’s fun to watch people fail. The thunder outside the tent suggested the higher beings were also not impressed with the efforts inside. Kate nailed it though.

Into challenge three, creating an illusion cake, and Flo’s magnificent watermelon cake that prompted some debate among the British Baker team as to whether she should have won star baker.

Personally, I think Steven and his BLT sarnie were deserved winners. Paul Hollywood doesn’t use the word ‘perfect’, lightly. A shout-out to Yan, though, for her banana ramen, as well as the realistic ice cubes on Sophie’s champagne bottle.

Against such brilliance Peter’s effort seemed lacking, and his exit from the tent justified.

There were so many fun moments last night that it’s impossible to list them all, but that can only be a good sign. Bake Off might not be the same without our beloved Mary, but it’ll do.

Here’s my predictions based on this week’s episode:

Most likely to win: Flo

Who should have been sent home: Peter

Next person to go: Stacey

Most fun to watch: Yan

Quote of the week: “If there’s an opportunity for an exposed bottom, we should all embrace that” – Noel

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