Great British Bake Blog 2018: Episode One

Has the world gone topsy turvy? Biscuits in week one of Bake Off? This is madness.

While we have become accustomed, if not exactly thrilled, by the presence of adverts and lack of Mary Berry, I tuned in this week expecting to see cakes. Not biscuits.

Thankfully, I survived the shock and many of the biscuits looked, as Mary would say, scrumptious.

The 12 new bakers, meanwhile, looked absolutely terrified as they were tasked with creating 24 regional biccies. Imelda served up flakemeal ones, Briony made empire biscuits with a ‘Bristol twist’ of apple cider jam, and Manon created Cornish shortbread with hazelnut and chocolate.

“It’s never gone wrong before so I don’t know why I’m panicking,” exclaimed stay-at-home dad Dan, who produced a lemon Shrewsbury biscuit.

Their nerves were palpable. Well, for some. Karen finished early and chose to relax with some crisps. Good work, Karen. Even if Paul and Prue weren’t thrilled by the texture of her biscuits.

Others were having a somewhat more stressful time. Terry’s ‘tache was beautifully styled (pictured below with Sandi), but his ginger biscuits were not. Hoping to wow the judges with beautifully-painted chocolate lambs atop his creations, he instead turned in a couple with chocolate smears vaguely recognisable as sheep among a host of bare biscuits. It was uncomfortable to watch, to say the least.

On to the technical, an opportunity for some of the bakers (read: Ruby and Terry) to redeem themselves by making eight chocolate wagon wheels.

For me the technical was nostalgic – I was flooded with memories of opening my pink Spice Girls lunch box to reveal a Wagon Wheel nestled next to Marmite sandwiches made with white bread.

Back to the tent, and it turned out Antony couldn’t follow instructions. First he didn’t rub the butter into the flour, then he decided to not add the water to the sugar when making marshmallow. It wasn’t exactly surprising that he came bottom in the technical, followed by Imelda in 11th and Kim-Joy 10th.

At the other end of the table, French native Manon secured third place, Briony second and Ruby came in first.

After that performance, there were no clear frontrunners heading into the showstopper, in which the bakers were asked to create a 3D biscuit selfie, showcasing a memorable location. Judging by the results, let’s just say some of the contestants clearly don’t think very highly of themselves.

Many went for heart-warming memories, such as finishing the London marathon or holding their baby for the first time. But not Luke. His was an ode to a drunken holiday in Vegas. Lads, lads, lads!

Dan was praised for his artistic skills, even if his baby “looked like a prawn”. Paul’s words, not mine. I felt it looked rather more phallic. Or possibly like a finger.

Manon (pictured below right) also wowed with her risky matcha tea flavours and beautifully crafted portrait securing herself the title of star baker.

Meanwhile, Ruby was criticised for being too ambitious after serving up an unfinished piece. Imelda’s might have been finished, but the biscuit was “bland and too thick”.

After a challenging two rounds, Terry needed a miracle. To make life harder for himself, he chose to make a portrait out of brandy snaps while others went for sturdier gingerbread and shortbread.

“You just have to do better than one other person,” said Imelda (pictured below left). Unfortunately for her, she came bottom of the class and was eliminated from the competition.

Clearly, the biscuit overlords were looking down on Terry, aided by his outstanding painting skills, and he lives to bake another day.

Here’s a few titbits based on this week’s episode:

Most likely to win: Manon

Who should have gone home: Imelda

Most fun to watch: Karen

Quote of the week: “I was 55 before I tried a Pot Noodle” – Sandi

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