Bake Off 2019: from furry gardens to angel slices

Group shot of The Great British Bake Off contestants season 10

The innuendos are strong with this one. So strong, my boyfriend had to leave the room because he couldn’t handle what Bake Off was serving any more.

Furry gardens, suggestive rocket shaping and Prue dribbling was just too much for him. For me, and the rest of the nation, it provided sweet relief. As the world burns (literally, in the case of the Amazon), dramatised baking in a tent brings joy to the hearts of many.

If the baker’s dozen of new contestants weren’t nervous enough entering the fateful tent, Paul certainly aimed to strike fear into them by proclaiming: “It could be at any point in the next nine weeks that two people go home.” Eek.

Nerves wrecked and pinnies on, the bakers cracked on with their first-ever signature challenge – to bake and decorate a fruit cake. A heavily-fruited fruit cake. As Paul ‘Goldilocks’ Hollywood explained, the batter mustn’t be too thick or else the fruit will stay on top, too thin and it will sink.

It was viewers’ first chance to get to know the contestants and, oh boy, do some of them have some interesting quirks. “I think baking and being a vet do complement each other,” says Rosie. “You’ve got a lot of needles and syringes, catheters, bits and bobs.”

Helena in the Bake Off tent making decorations for her cake

Helena (pictured above), meanwhile, said she aimed to live every day like it is Halloween and Steph claimed her dead great-grandmother could help her find lost objects. They’re an eclectic bunch, that’s for sure.

They also did their best with what I would argue is one of the most boring cakes.

Priya’s sunshine cake was described by Noel as looking like a “Wham video”, while Helena looked to (unsuccessfully) spookify hers with a sugar bat on top. Good ol’ Phil went with a hefty dose of rum, while Rosie and a rather handicapped Michael (thanks to three fresh cuts on his hand) infused theirs with chai.

“My fruit cake has no fat,” explains David, who instead chose to add carrot and butternut squash to the mix with prunes and figs. “I love healthy baking,” he said. I do not like David.

Results were mixed. Dan’s cake was raw inside after he decided to double the amount of fruit used on the day, while Michelle’s was tough, but with good flavour. Prue was so excited by 20-year-old Henry’s efforts that she shook her fork at him and said: “You’ve made a very good fruit cake”.

On to the technical – the Mr Kipling classic of angel slices. Ok, I’m sure they existed before Mr Kipling started mass-producing them, but I’ve never seen one in the wild.

“This is a bit, as they say, technical,” said Phil when he saw the 15-step recipe comprising Genoese sponge, smooth buttercream and a feathered icing top. You’ve got to love him.

Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith in the Bake Off tent

Paul was delighted at Prue’s cruelness in setting such a hard task as the opening technical challenge, but it seemed the bakers were not. Particularly as none of them were up to the challenge. Even Henry, who came first, didn’t produce perfect angel slices. Although, unlike some of the others, they wouldn’t bounce back if you dropped them on the floor. Prue outright called Jamie’s a failure. Ouch.

Here’s the rest of the rundown from worst to best:

  • Jamie, Helena, Michael, David, Dan, Phil, Priya, Michelle, Alice, Amelia, Steph, Rosie and Henry.

Things weren’t looking good for some going into the showstopper. Paul and Prue demanded birthday cakes from the bakers, specifically ones the contestants dreamt about as children.

My childhood cake dreams are broadly the same as my adult cake dreams. Colin. The. Caterpillar.

The bakers were clearly more adventurous as children, or very precocious, as flavours included chocolate orange, salted caramel and lime & coconut.

“I had a fairy garden as a child. I have one now,” Helena said, describing the theme for her cake. Cue a rather bemused expression on Paul’s face. It turned out their accents weren’t compatible. A furry garden, I presume, is somewhat different to a fairy garden.

Fairies (or should that be furries) and woodland themes featured heavily among the creations. Henry opted to make a cake inspired by Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree, Michelle whipped up a fairy cake with toadstool house and Priya was inspired by a storybook complete with giant toadstool.

GBBO contestants David and Michael compete in the first episode

Michael (above, right) and Dan opted for boyhood dreams of treasure and pirates, while Phil kept it classic with a (slightly wonky) sherbet sponge flavoured rocket. I only wish he had chosen something less phallic. Yes, I know, I clearly have a filthy mind, but there are only so many times I can watch someone smooth fondant icing over the tip of a rocket. It was enough to make me blush.

The judges could only take so much as well, proclaiming Phil’s cake too sweet. David’s snake (above, left) was impressive to say the least, winning over the judges. Helena’s chocolate sponge was “fantastic”, while David’s salted caramel Schnauzer lacked finesse and was too sweet for more than a bite or two. Dan suffered the opposite problem – his passion-fruit flavour just wasn’t coming through.

After serving up a raw signature, a questionable technical and a lacklustre showstopper, it’s perhaps no surprise that Dan (below, right) was sent packing.

Michelle (below, left), meanwhile, became The Great British Bake Off’s first season 10 star baker.

Michelle got star baker in week one while Dan was sent home from the Bake Off tent

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

Most likely to win: Henry

Who should have gone home: Dan and his topknot

Most fun to watch: Phil, if only for the lewdness of that rocket shaping

Quote of the week: “Some of us have got snakes, some of us have got worms, Paul” – Noel

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