So, the first episode of the new Great British Bake Off aired last night.
Watching it was a bit like biting into a fat free cake – all the ingredients there, but something is a little bit off, something you can’t quite put your finger on. But, as you get halfway through the slice, you’ve found that you’ve adapted and are now enjoying it.
Last night’s show was the first time we saw the four judges and presenters all together, all brand spanking new (“apart from old blue eyes”, as Noel Fielding put it). Presenting alongside Noel was Sandi Toksvig (cue jokes like, “this is Mel and Sue now, feel old yet?”, and judging with old blue eyes – aka Paul Hollywood – was Prue Leith, who promised to be “firm but fair”. She said: “Baking is such a treat that it has to be the very best, and it has to be worth the calories”. Even when it’s not worth the calories, is still is kinda worth it, though – am I right?
The show jumped into action with ‘Cake Week’, an episode that if you watch cake-less, is like some sort of slow torture. With some pretty impressive bakes, a fiddly technical challenge, and a big showstopper finisher, it seems this Channel 4 version of the show isn’t too far from the original Bake Off that the British public knows and loves.
So, anyway, there’s really only one thing for it. Yes: now, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to predict the order in which the contestants are going to leave the competition. Prior to penning this, I actually called that Peter was going to leave first – the only thing I had written about him was “too much coconut”, but I’m obviously very good at this predicting thing. I even managed to refrain from putting the four bakers who used apples for their fruity cake as the first four to leave for by default, for the sole reason that cooked apples are shit. You’ll be pleased to know I’ve left my bias at the door, and have judged this as if I were Mary Queen of Berry herself.
Okay, he may grow rhubarb in his own allotment, but he can’t cook said rhubarb. I feel he’s going to be a bit clumsy, a bit forgetful, and he’s going to mess up next weeks technical challenge which will knock his confidence for the showstopper and then Sandi is going to be saying, “goodbye James”.
Stacey is that contestant who will get by the first few weeks because there’s always someone slightly worse than her – someone who didn’t get the right flavours; whose showstopper was a bit less of a showstopper than hers – but getting through to the next week by the skin of your teeth can only last for so long. Tenth place.
He’s a mathematician, and I just don’t know how far he can go in the competition using his excel formulas to bake cakes. I also want to know where the baking element was in my excel training. Was anyone else robbed of that? On top of that, he made a fat free cake last night. Come on Chris, no one comes on bake off because they’re on a diet: give us the goods, or get out (you will go out, ninth to be exact).
I felt Liam was a little bit forgettable, right up until he flirted with Prue about waking up together over that pancake stack that was actually a cake. I mean, it looked phenomenal – I wanted to gobble up every bit of his banana and blueberry cake stack. But, as the youngest baker in the competition, I feel the more experienced bakers will come out on top over the next few weeks and he’ll find himself in too deep, like that Sum 41 song. He won’t be able to stop himself going under and he’ll leave the competition in eighth place.
She was the first person to forget to put her oven on and I feel kind of frantic just watching her on the screen. However, she seems to be super creative – and can throw a cake together – which makes me think she’s gonna be sticking around for a good few weeks. To be honest, her banana-ramen cake should at least get her through a couple more episodes, until she makes another iconic showstopper to pull her through to seventh place, where she’ll inevitably fuck up pretty badly and it’ll be bye-bye Yan.
Her rose and strawb cake got called “style over substance”, but Kate nailed the mini roll in the technical challenge, which makes me thinks she’s got a good mix of skills to go far. But not too far. Sixth, Kate.
Can I say that I want him to come fifth in desperate hope that I can stare at him baking each week? Tom will get a book or TV deal when the show is over because he’s easy on the eye, makes pretty cakes and knows good flavour. He put a whole pear on a cake. An entire pear. With real gold leafs. An. Entire. Pear. He’s extra and I love it. He definitely needed to step it up a notch for his showstopper, though – is he going to continue flopping half way through each episode? We shall see. But for now, congrats on your fifth place Tommy.
First of all, she used courgette as a fruit, which made me think she was a little mediocre from the beginning, but then she did that cake in a cake Russian Doll thing and it brought her back up. Fourth is a pretty impressive position, but it probably won’t get you that book deal when the show is over. Julia, you’ve got fab eyebrows, but you ain’t a winner in this bake off.
Our Sophie got the first Paul Hollywood handshake of the series for her pineapple and coconut cake. But then she made a phallic looking champagne bottle that was a bit dry. She’s an ex-army officer, though – so she can definitely handle the pressure of the tent. This makes me think she’ll come out victorious as the other contestants crumble and get soggy bottoms due to nerves. Bronze medal!
So he won star baker, and got the second Paul Hollywood handshake (side note: two handshakes in the first episode, has Paul thawed?) but how far will Steven go was a big question on my lips. I think it’s quite predictable to say the person who gets the first star baker title will be the winner of the whole show, but it does mean he will definitely go far. Although he’s slightly over the top, I reckon that’s what they’re looking for this year, and he can clearly mix together a good cake batter… I don’t think he’ll nip the winner position, but second place is basically winning. And his mum will be proud anyway.
Scouse Grandma Flo made my heart melt at the first mention of lemon curd, mixed with the fact she needed help to type up her recipes. If there is anything that makes you say ‘aww’, it’s grandmas that can’t use computers (unless you’re the one who spent an entire afternoon trying to teach her to use said computer, yet she still keeps asking where the space bar is). Last night, Flo was consistently good throughout, with a fab fruity cake, a decent technical and that mind-blowing watermelon cake. Was it a real watermelon? Was it even a cake? You’ll only know if you cut into it. To be honest, I’d give her the crown here and now for that if I could. Go on Paul, Prue: do the right thing and make Scouse Grandma Flo our winner. You definitely won’t be sorry.
Words by Eliza Frost