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Soggy bottoms, sticky buns and glazed doughnuts are not just terms for a Saturday night in Manchester, but the reason I have spent the past ten weeks glued to my seat every Wednesday night. The Great British Bake Off upgraded to prime time BBC slottage and teetering on a knife edge with its eyebrow raising, puns aplenty viewing. Millions of us tuned in last week to see who was crowned master baker!
GBBO got us all back into the kitchens and this series hit headlines with the shocking ‘bingate’ scandal, as Diana Beard proved there is only room for one beard in the Bake Off kitchen, promptly offing weirdy beardy Iain’s baked Alaska in Donwton-style shock-drama. This sparked revolt across the nation, front page Daily Mail slander and Paxman Newsnight interrogation. It even turned the head of royally unamused HRM Queen Elizabeth II, who declared her disgust at the #justiceforiain campaign. Truly the nation hadn’t been this wound up since Deirdre Barlow’s ‘free the Weatherfield one.’
But whilst Buck Palace sits on their throne of cakes watching Bake Off, ultimately there is only one Queen of Hearts, the national treasure… Mary Berry. With hair the colour of self-raising flour and a smile as warm as a freshly baked sponge, she brought an element of sunshine to Paul Hollywood’s ‘Mr Nasty Cowell’ persona. Mary provided the ‘awwww’ factor and Paul the eye candy – his azure eyes burning into our bakers’ souls with every gaping hole and leaking pie.
As the series and the summer came to a close, the BBC upped the tension and generated its own downpour on the Bake Off tent. Who would win? Self proclaimed ‘King Luis’, teacher’s pet and star baker record holder Richard, or ‘Mary Berry, Jr.’ Nancy? It was anyone’s to call. I won’t spoil it here if you still haven’t seen it (what’s wrong with you?), but I will allow your Facebook feed and water cooler talk to provide the spoilers in Game of Thrones fashion. The day is coming soon when someone recreates a ‘red wedding’ cake complete with sponge Robb Stark oozing strawberry jam. This year we came close with Luis’ 3D biscuit dragons – all he was missing was a gingerbread Daenerys Targaryen with blonde icing.
Just three challenges stood between the ultimate winner and their prize, an Interflora bouquet and a glass plate engraved at your local branch of Timpson… Sadly, being Bake Off champion doesn’t carry the monetary rewards of its Masterchef and Come Dine with Me counterparts.
Viennoiseries??? Some sort of fancy croissant where Luis’ had chalky insides, Nancy’s fell flatter than Sues’ jokes and Richard’s spent too much time touching each other.
Our intrepid bakers tackle 12 Victoria sponges, 12 tartes aux citron, and 12 scones – a challenge so generic it sounds like Norman made it up. Nancy stormed ahead, whilst Richard’s unfortunate iced spelling mistake created a whole new recipe of ‘tartes aux colon’.
Then the show-stopping finale – Pièce Montées. A quick Wikipedia search tells me:
a kind of decorative confectionery centrepiece in an architectural or sculptural form
Luis fought Thatcherism with his biscuit tribute to miners in Poynton, Richard’s explosion in a Play Dough colour factory churned out a windmill and Nancy’s S&M Baz Luhrmann windmill showed a darker side.
It didn’t quite have have the pizazz of past showstoppers, but in my opinion the right person won – but grab some dry sponge and dab your eyes, it gets a bit emotional!
All in all, for a series that got the whole country talking, it went out a bit like a sinking soufflé. The most risqué part was Nancy revealing her kinky side with her biscuit windmill and nod to the Moulin Rouge – there weren’t even that many smutty jokes to scoff your tea at.
For the time being I hang up my naked man apron, pack away my phallic-shaped cake tins and hunker down for the winter. Sue and Mel are out of ‘Carry on Baking’ until next year and Kenneth Williams can stop turning in his grave at every single ‘ooh, Matron!’ moment. Meanwhile my cookbooks gather dust as I eagerly await the release of Norman’s biography and Bake Off 2015.