After last night’s episode of The Great British Bake Off, I’m convinced that caramel is, in fact, the nectar of the gods. This tempting, silky, golden brown delight was poured, drizzled and smothered on everything in sight, as was to be expected in the first-ever caramel week.
Last night was a new experience for me as well, as I indulged in Bake Off with friends, while sipping prosecco. It was like Sex and the City, except there was no sex and the city was Croydon.
Nevertheless, watching it with self-proclaimed Bake Off virgins Katy and Amy (what have they been doing?) and Paula was an enlightening experience. “Noel is the new Sue,” they declared although none were impressed with Prue’s efforts to fill the coveted role of Mary Berry. This was exacerbated when Prue announced that she didn’t like sweet things. Why on earth is she judging Bake Off then?
Particularly when this week’s sweet things were arguably the most delicious-looking of the whole series. I would have scoffed the lot. Even the weird granulated molten sugar that didn’t quite turn into caramel. We all know it would have been delicious.
Millionaire’s shortbread was the first task for the contestants. Kate, Sophie and Julia all did well, but golden boy Steven stumbled as Paul said it was too bitter. Prue didn’t mind the lack of sweetness, though. Tom did even worse, even failing to cut his shortbread into chunks and serving it as two giant slabs instead. Liam, realising that peanut butter makes everything better, triumphed, gaining the sought-after handshake from Paul. However, with at least one every week, I’m starting to wonder if these handshakes aren’t quite as coveted as they’re made out to be.
The technical, to make 12 stroopwafels, was a little different. The yeast threw a spanner in the works, leaving most of the bakers confused, and there were multiple instances of people starting a second caramel.
With three contestants gone, there was enough space in the show for story time with Noel, in which we travelled to the Dutch town of Gouda, the birthplace of the stroopwafel. I could have watched those magical waffle machines all day, mainly because the bakers were making such a mess of it back in the tent. The judges were unimpressed with their efforts, declaring Stacey the best of a bad bunch. Ouch! Julia, last week’s star baker, came in last, followed by Yan and Steven.
Many were in a precarious place by the time the signature challenge, a caramel cake, rolled around. Luckily, most hit their stride, producing sugary masterpieces.
Yan’s was by far the most impressive – her chocolate and orange jungle-themed tiger cake was stunning, the trees standing tall and the tiger swirl on-point. Steven’s sugar crown was a case of style over substance as the judges felt it was too solid and were left feeling disappointed. Personally, I was pleased. Can you tell I’m not into Steven? He tries too hard.
Liam, meanwhile, was my favourite this week. His charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent (yes, I know, another RuPaul reference) shone through for the Croydon crew. His signature, with on-trend caramel drip effect, was described as really appetising. He should have been star baker this week.
But he was robbed by Kate. Admittedly, her toffee apple cake with colourful caramel firework and mini toffee apples looked divine. But I can’t help feeling calling it a firework meant she could get away with messy sugar work and… just saying… that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Tom’s hummingbird cake, meanwhile, looked neat and respectable, but not enough caramel and a bad bake meant he was the fourth baker to exit the tent.
Here’s my predictions based on this week’s episode:
Most likely to win: Kate
Who should have been sent home: Tom
Most fun to watch: Liam
Quote of the week: “Not as much of an erection as I wanted” - Stacey