It’s that time of year! ‘The Great British Bake Off’ is back on our screens once again, tempting our tastebuds with all of the bakers’ delicacies. This year there are 13 bakers in the Bake Off tent all vying for the esteemed title of star baker.
The first week’s challenge was cake; a classic baking feat, are you much of a baker if you can’t bake a decent cake? Let’s find out!
Signature challenge: Fruit cake
The bakers got stuck in straight away with the first challenge – to create their signature fruit cake for the judges. This had to have a significant amount of fruit, and needed to be beautifully decorated.
Paul’s top tip: The fruit cake for me is one of those basics of baking. Pick a great sponge base, fill it with fruit. But it’s about the consistency of the batter; too thin, all the fruit will drop down to the bottom, too thick, they all stay at the top. Get the balance right and it will bake beautifully.
A lot of the bakers went for classic family recipes. All of the bakes had fantastic favours which made our mouths water! Though we did want to take the knives away from Michael after he repeatedly injured himself when trying to chop up the fruit. Dan decided to change his recipe at the last minute to create a much bigger cake than he had practiced with – a very risky strategy, which unfortunately didn’t pay off.
Prue’s top tip: They’ve only got two and a half hours so they have to get those cakes into the oven, out of the oven, and get it cool because we want it decorated as well, and there’s a real danger that they’ll be putting icing onto a hot cake and it will just melt.
For their fruit cakes, there was a lot of inspiration from classic holiday recipes. Christmas, Easter, and even Halloween made a feature with Helena’s cake of choice. Poor Henry suffered a mishap when his royal icing house decoration crashed to the tabletop, but the flavours of his fruit cake rescued him.
At the end of the first challenge, Dan was in trouble after his fruit cake turned out to be raw. Most of the bakers did really well and impressed with their flavours. It was a fairly even playing field, which was soon to be put to the real test by the first technical challenge…
Technical challenge: Angel cake slices
For their first technical challenge, the bakers were asked to make six identical angel cake slices, each made of three layers of genoise sponge, and each cake sandwiched between layers of Italian meringue buttercream. The angel cake slices needed to be topped with icing, which needed to be feathered.
Prue’s top tip: It sounds simple enough, but the point is it’s a genoise sponge and it’s really easy for that mixture to become flat. If they overmix, it’s not just volume they lose, the texture becomes rubbery. It has to be light!
The bakers were all given the same ingredients along with Prue’s 15 stage recipe. Some of them got into difficulties straight away; Jamie had lost all the air from his sponges, which is never a good start. Dan was hoping for this technical to save him after the disastrous first challenge.
Jamie came last, but we did love Jamie’s polite “Thank you,” to Prue’s honest “It’s just awful.” Henry came out on top in the technical challenge, which is a wonderful achievement to have under his belt so early on in the series.
Show stopper challenge: Birthday cake you dreamt of as a child
The last challenge of the weekend was to create the ultimate birthday cake that they dreamt of as a child. The bakers were given free reign over flavours and decorations, with the only requirement that it be a spectacular show stopper.
Paul’s top tip: Time will be their enemy. It’s about colour, it’s about detail, it’s about wow. They’ve got to show us what they can do.
There were fairy themes, pirate themes, an even a schnauzer made an appearance. Though Jamie wasn’t off to great start when he forgot to add his eggs…
Prue’s top tip: I’m rather hoping for some originality. Children dream a lot; I want them to try to remember what they dreamt about. But as always, what matters far more than anything is the quality of the cake. The flavours should be real and punchy it has to be delicious.
Bakers had to make plenty of cake to make those show stopper sponges, as well as think about how to support their ambitious bakes. Once their bakes were in the oven it was time to focus on all those decorations!
All of the bakers created some pretty impressive bakes which made our mouths water. Michelle’s Ty Tylwyth Teg (that’s ‘fairy house’ in Welsh) shone out from the crowd – a carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting which prompted Prue to ask for the recipe, and earned her the star baker apron for the first week. Da iawn, Michelle!
At the end of the weekend, it was down to Dan or Jamie as to who was going to be first to leave the Bake Off tent. It’s always sad to say goodbye to one of the bakers, especially in the first week when we’d still like to get to know them all better, but unfortunately the first Bake Off casualty was Dan.
It’s biscuit week next week! There looks to be another variety of challenges for our bakers to face, and we can’t wait to see who’ll come out on top. Do you have a favourite baker yet? Do you think the right person went? We want to hear what you think over on our Facebook page!