Smash the patriarchy, not the cake. This week’s episode of The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up 2 Cancer was all about celebrating strong, independent women.
Sure, Johnny Vegas and grime artist Big Narstie did their best to steal the focus, but it was Labour MP Jess Phillips, heptathlon athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Prue Leith and Sandi Toksvig who shone through with outstanding feminist showstoppers, honest discussions about sex and, er, ‘knicker section’ compliments.
They also provided down-to-earth, relatable depictions of people wanting to try their best, but it not always going the way they wanted. “I’m a bit nervous but I don’t know why. I’m used to being in humanitarian zones and this is just biscuits,” said Jess.
But as viewers know by now, biscuits in the Bake Off tent are enough to stress out even the most zen of people. Having Paul Hollywood hovering around your workbench surely doesn’t help either.
First, the contestants were tasked with creating 18 shaped and decorated shortbread biscuits. Johnny (pictured below) was out to impress Paul, but it was Prue he wanted to woo with his Moscow mule shortbread. His lovable character definitely shone through and if Prue wasn’t wooed, the audience were.
Big Narstie’s ‘dog-shaped’ vanilla and nutmeg biscuits weren’t going to win any points with the judges either, despite help on how to roll out and shape his dough.
Treat it “like a beautiful woman, very gently”, advised Sandi. “But that’s not passionate if it’s soft like that,” Big Narstie said.
“Oh, sometimes…” Sandi replied with a knowing look.
It was less like a Carry On film over at Jess’ bench, with beautifully formed honey & lemon shortbread in beehive shapes, while Katarina reflected her accomplishments by creating gold medals from lemon & white chocolate shortbread biscuits.
For the technical, the contestants were tasked with creating six pork pies with an apple chutney. Clearly, I’m not fancy enough to eat pork pies with chutney, preferring a simple dunk in some salad cream instead. Delicious.
Making hot water crust pastry, and indeed pastry in general, was a new experience for the novice bakers.
“Who uses lard unless you have a massive life insurance policy?” Johnny asked.
Big Narstie refused to stick to the brief, instead making what he dubbed as two Rasta pies, which were so spicy things looked a bit touch-and-go for Paul immediately after tasting them.
The other bakers fared better, but none of them produced the perfection Paul and Prue were hoping for. Katarina came third, Johnny second and Jess first.
Day two and there was a slight change of plan, as Big Narstie (pictured above) was unwell and unable to compete. Luckily, Sandi – aka Little Narstie – stepped in to save the day.
Turns out it was harder than she expected, as the bakers were asked to make a two-tiered cake selfie.
“Two seasons of presenting and I’ve honestly learnt nothing apart from saying ganache with confidence,” she said, as she prepared a banana cake wall with a fondant version of herself sticking out from behind it.
Johnny, meanwhile, stuck with flavours he knew by producing a stout cake with whisky and butterscotch buttercream, with his face on top. Katarina further celebrated her achievements by crafting a cakey version of her landing a long jump, complete with the aforementioned track knickers, while Jess made a ‘smash the patriarchy’ feminist cake, flavoured with cardamom and topped with lemon & fennel buttercream.
All in all, the bakers each produced decent cakes. Johnny’s was described as tasting beautiful, Jess had an excellent design and flavours, even if her sponge was a tad overbaked, while Katarina and her knicker section were very good. “Stop saying knicker section,” Noel said to Prue.
With the tables turned, Sandi was visibly nervous during the judging, but she needn’t have been. Her banana cake was so good she got a Hollywood handshake and possibly the first ever Hollywood hug. Alas, no amount of fantastic banana cake would have seen her named star baker.
That honour went to Jess Phillips, which must have offered a brief, but welcome, distraction from the chaos of Brexit.