Tuning into Bake Off this week I had no idea I was about to be confronted by my kindred spirit – comedian (and professional scruff bag) Joe Wilkinson.
The realisation first came to light when he revealed his immense love of gherkins. So dedicated is Joe to the pickled delights that he paid homage to them in not one but two bakes. His dedication to a delightfully scruffy exterior (one that I can only aspire to as there are certain standards to adhere to at British Baker) further cemented this feeling, as did his aspiration to be named Rear Of The Year.
There were other bakers in the tent, although I can’t say I felt as strongly for them. They were: Jeremy Paxman, Corrie actress Sally Lindsay and Made in Chelsea star Georgia ‘Toff’ Toffolo.
Toff was relying on the incompetence of other contestants to make her shine, but alas it was her own incompetence that stood out. Apparently, putting an entire jar of Marmite, sorry ‘yeast extract’, into 18 shaped biscuits (as was the bakers’ first task) makes for a rather pungent taste. It also didn’t help that her bottle-shaped cheese & yeast extract biscuits were burnt.
Jeremy opted for a ginger-flavoured tribute to his dalmatian/spaniel cross, named Derek. Despite his ability to handle stressful situations, Jeremy was not at home in the tent, with many an angry word.
“I’ve never known anyone so lost in the tent before,” said Paul.
Derek was probably not thrilled with the biscuit tributes, which were very badly iced, albeit tasty. Sally’s honey biscuits, meanwhile, didn’t taste of honey but were beautiful to look at. They were nothing compared to the luminous green gherkin-shaped mint-flavoured biscuits produced by Joe. Paul was clearly surprised at how good they were.
The technical was one that has been faced in the tent before, albeit in regular Bake Off. It was to make crumpets – but, in this case, chocolate crumpets with a black cherry jam. “I’ve never heard of chocolate crumpets,” exclaimed Jeremy. “They sound disgusting.”
The raw-in-the-middle crumpets, plus the slightly burnt ones, did look disgusting. But again, somehow, Joe managed to triumph, coming top in the technical, followed by Toff, Jeremy and Sally (pictured below).
Finally, the bakers entered the showstopper in which they were tasked with creating at least a two-tiered and decorated cake that paid tribute to a favourite hobby.
Sally celebrated the suffragette movement with a carrot cake emblazoned with the phrase ‘deeds not words’, Toff went for a night club scene in pistachio & almond, while Jeremy paid homage to his love of fishing (a hobby he shares with Prue) by creating a lemon drizzle cake complete with fondant Prue on top.
But it was Joe’s that truly captured the imagination of many in the tent – a chocolate orange extravaganza in the shape of his bottom with an ‘I Bake Off: “For modesty’s sake, he’s also making a thong”.
The underwear even triggered a rather enlightening discussion between Jeremy and Joe on whether Paxman had ever worn a thong. “I’ve been through the whole gamut, but I’ve never tried a thong,” he said. “Not even on holiday.” I am sure holiday-makers everywhere are eternally grateful.
From one body part to another, Toff inexplicably made a naked fondant version of herself for her nightclub scene. “I don’t know why I’m standing there with no clothes on,” she said. It wasn’t even a flattering nude portrayal, but arguably it did fit in with the overall messiness of the cake.
Prue was flattered by her portrayal in Jeremy’s creation, even if she did look a bit like Napoleon. The bake and flavours of his lemon drizzle were also good. The same was true of Sally’s cake.
It was Joe’s buttocks that truly stole the show, with a beautiful flavour and delicious ganache sandwiching it all together, securing him the star baker apron.
“There’s no bigger up than winning an apron,” he said.