1. Warning : this recap contains scenes of wanton pudding carnage that may upset viewers of a sensitive nature. For me these scenes mostly came with Sue introducing this week’s Signature bake – the self-saucing pudding, in that terrifying voice that she always used to use on Light Lunch to indicate she was about to launch into a particularly ripe innuendo (and by Sue Perkins’ standards, that’s pretty bloody ripe). You know the one – the one that’s equal parts Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Williams, and Jerry Lewis. The sort of voice that, say, a lover, say, Kate, would tell you mid-coitus to stop doing “for a laugh” right this second otherwise that’s the last you’ll ever taste of her raspberry muffins. The sort of voice that already had me feeling a bit nauseous going into an episode that was going to climax with Mary Berry being invited to eat melted ice-cream out of a bin.
2. Anyway, self-saucing puddings. When faced with the challenge of creating a pudding that sauced itself, the contestants divided neatly into two schools – those playing it safe and making fondants (Kate, Iain, Martha, Nancy, Richard) and those trying something slightly different (Chetna, Luis, Norman, Diana). Those of you in a dead faint at the thought of Norman placing himself on the side of the rebellious and different can pick yourselves up now, as Norman’s idea of a self-saucing pudding was just to do a bog-standard Sticky Toffee Pudding and if it decided to produce some sauce at the bottom then so be it. Luckily for him this tactic actually paid off and, as he made minor concessions in his WAR ON FLAVOUR by including 0.00001ml of vanilla essence (which you know just killed him – to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if he immediately tried to soak it back up with a tea-towel the second it hit the pud) things were looking up for Norman at this point. Sure it was a little ugly-looking, but as Norman himself pointed out, pretty people are evil. Or something like that. Luis on the other hand, normally so succesfully inventive, conspired to produce poached pears wearing tin-foil hats sat in “claggy sponge” that was soaked with a vile brackish yellow liquid. A little bit like they were conspiracy theorists that had pissed themselves (for a real-life picture of that this might look like, check out Twitter around the time Iain’s Baked Alaska came out the freezer). Of the other rebels, Chetna’s Rhubarb, Strawberry & Orange puddings looked a bit like gone-mouldy loft insulation and didn’t contain enough sauce, and Diana intrigued and delighted with an Orange and Lemon Curd-Pot Surprise Pudding. The surprise being she’s HIDDEN A BOMB IN ONE OF THE FONDANTS, BUT SHE’S NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHICH ONE. IT’S A…CHOCOLATE BOMBE IF YOU WILL! MWAHAHAHAHAHA! *curls WI moustache*
3. But enough about surprises and sticky toffee and incontinent fruit. We all know that this round was all about fondants. Slayer of Masterchef contestants and Come Dine With Me hosts alike. Who would have a runny middle and whose centre would have set harder than Diana’s newly acquired supervillain heart? Richard and Kate probably emerged with the strongest sponge resume, the former with a Black Forest gateau fondant that he only had to force-feed his family for an entire week until they had cherries coming out of their noses to get right and the latter with a chocolate and salted caramel fondant that was rather lumpy in appearance due to the proliferation of nuts on the outside. Sue plaintively said that it reminded her of how her face looks first thing in the morning before make-up get to her. Kate said nothing. Defeated by fondant on the other hand were Nancy and Martha and for entirely the opposite reasons. Nancy, who truly was sailing directly into the Masterchef curse by saying she’d only got her recipe right once before, produced a centre that was altogether moussey. (The above confession incidentally brought out a truly classic “OH I KNOW WHY THAT IS BUT I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU!” smug-face of doom from Paul that you can tell school nit-nurse Nancy was aching to slap off him). Martha on the other hand, having suffered Paul asking her HOW WET DOES THE CENTRE OF YOUR FONDANT NEED TO BE in exactly the same voice you would use to ask a four year old WHAT NOISE DO DUCKS MAKE, produced a peanut-butter sludge that was so incessantly moist and sticky that it welded Paul’s mouth shut. I would have given her Star Baker on the spot for that alone to be honest.
4. Those worried that this fondanty set-back might have put a dent in Martha’s hitherto assured stride though will be pleased to hear that if anything it did the opposite, as Martha spent the rest of the episode sporting a persona that if anything could only be described as SMUG MARTHA if I wasn’t aware at all times that I am in fact writing this blog ABOUT AN ACTUAL CHILD. Still, her preening that she was by far the youngest person left in the tent by far and at one point actually saying (in the wake of her Technical Challenge victory) that in retrospect it was ridiculous to have thought that anyone could even come close to the glory of her tiramisu cake, at least gave everyone a chance to dig out and re-use (with minor adjustments) everything they’d said about Ruby last year. And of course the flashbacks were helped by the fact that Martha officially STARTED HER EXAMS THIS WEEK. Was anyone not instantly flashed back to our Rubes sat cross-legged on her study floor, chewing a pencil and looking winsomely out at the rain whilst reading about Kierkegaard? Hopefully Martha will avoid the ignominy of whatever awful exam result Ruby ended up getting. 98% wasn’t it?
5. This week’s History Bit revolved around a 1.5 tonne Spotted Dick that was produced for a festival in Paignton in August 1859. The gathered crowd of 18,000 people, sauced on cider, became so hot and desperate for giant pyramidal dick that a riot ensued. When told about it, Sue didn’t really understand the fuss. Sometimes the History Bit just writes itself.
6. This week’s Technical Challenge was to make tiramisu cake. This produced paroxisms of horror amidst the older bakers – Diana shuddered that she hadn’t made tiramisu since school, and the thought brought back horrible memories of vicious bullying (DON’T GO ON THE INTERNET DIANA) and Norman snorted that he didn’t even know how to spell tiramisu. Combined with his disdain for pesto, I think it’s safe to say that Norman isn’t much on Italy. Then again they do have herbs and olive oil (JUST USE LARD) and seasoning and salt and stuff so it’s not surprising. To be honest it was a slightly dull Technical Challenge, mostly featuring people trying to slice really thin layers of sponge into even thinner layers of sponge, but I guess we all needed settling down for the carnage to come. Bottom of the heap were Diana (all piping, no sponge) Norman (unsurprisingly), and Kate (messy and uneven) whilst top of the heap were Chetna, Luis and NOT SMUG BECAUSE I’M NOT CALLING A CHILD SMUG Martha. Diana put her failure in this round to her just being a humble home baker. In that she will BAKE YOUR HOUSE IF YOU NICK HER FREEZER SPACE. DON’T THINK SHE WON’T. BAKE IT UNTIL YOUR LOFT EXTENSION BURRRRRRRRRRRNS.
7. Ahem. So. Firstly let’s deal with all the aspects of the Showstopper Challenge that didn’t revolve around…the incident. The challenge was to create a Baked Alaska. On the hottest day of the year. (Diana remarking what lovely weather it was immediately as the challenge started, almost rubbing her hands together in a way that seems retrospectively unfortunately Macchiavelian). Yes, I’m sure that could ever have ended well. Chetna’s was probably the most notably disastrous, making up for the lack of sauce in her self-saucing pudding by producing a never ending perpetual motion torrent of melting ice-cream, like one of those terrifying youtube videos where someone adds baking soda to something innocuous and the result is a spiral of tentacles straight out of hell itself. In the end she just about got away with it because her sponge was lovely. Although the heat appeared to be getting to Nancy as much as it was her Summer Pudding themed Baked Alaska, as she proudly told Mary Berry that it was going to have three lovely stripes just like a rainbow. Fortunately the judges overlooked her…slight eccentricity of number and she earned an “exceptional” from Paul. Also fairing well were Martha, whose Key Lime Baked Alaska was declared the winner by Sue before the round had even started (true dat), and Kate, whose pistachio, raspberry and chocolate Baked Alaska got nothing but dribbles and noises from the judges. Less successful was Norman, as the judges took one look at what he produced and all but yelled BORIN in his face. This is getting to be slightly repetitive no?
8. This week’s Star Baker was Richard, for the second time, although the announcement was slightly muffled by the kerfuffle over the…happening. Best of all was how Richard managed to swing the title of Star Baker, as after the Technical Challenge of Mary Berry’s Tiramisu Cake, Richard served up…Mary Berry’s Tiramisu Baked Alaska. Yes, a builder to his very core, Richard used up a job lot of materials he had left over from his last job to bodge up a new one, and nobody really seemed to notice or care in the middle of the psychotic break going on from the other side of the tent. Don’t be surprised if, next week, Richard greets the request to bring forth his showstopping pork pie by sucking his teeth sharply and saying it’ll need a couple more weeks. And it’ll cost you. And to be honest it looks like you need your sausage roll doing as well.
9. So we can put it off no longer. This week saw the rise of a NEW BAKING SUPERVILLAIN (/a genial old lady who screwed up in a moment of self-absorption and who is now having to endure being hash-tagged “SWAN BITCH” (isn’t that one of the Guardians Of The Galaxy?)). Yes, in a moment of madness, in the pursuit of a perfect pure swan-shaped Baked Alaska, Diana removed Iain’s ice-cream from her freezer (/HURLED IT OUT OF THE FREEZER ONTO THE FLOOR CACKLING LIKE THE HEATMISER) and forgot to(/DELIBERATELY DIDN’T) tell him and when he greeted the ensuing mess with despair she asked him why he didn’t just use his own(/TOLD HIM GET HIS OWN FREEZER BITCH, AND IF SHE SAW HIM MESSING WITH HER FRIDGE AGAIN SHE’D TRAP HIS STUPID BEARD IN A PASTA PRESS AND TWIST THE HANDLE SO HARD THAT HE’D BE FORCED TO CUT IT OFF OR LOSE HIS CHIN). Loath as I am to join a pile-on, and I hope this is all read in the spirit in which it’s meant and not in a fashion that will get quoted in The Daily Mail as evidence of the collapse of polite society, but I am kind of giddy that in a so-far utterly benign series, we have someone ready to join the League Of Baking Evil alongside Emo-Ruby, Disco-Dip Brendan, The Thing That Sarah-Jane Did and Holly, who Steve informs me was hated for using a ruler (I didn’t watch that series). I envision them all crushing Tokyo together.
10. The flip-side of Diana’s turn to the Dark Side, like an Anakin Skywalker in floral print, was Iain’s reaction to finding his ice-cream ruined, which was to flip out, throw everything (ice cream, sponge, meringue, dignity) in the bin, and storm out the tent. In terms of Bake-Off history, this was practically Tiananmen Square. Normally when people so much as swear everyone blushes, let alone having a full-blown adult tantrum. Not that it stopped Mel from ploughing on with her punning script anyway, as Iain choked out a swan in the background. Probably my favourite moment came when Iain returned sheepishly to the tent and Kate tentatively asked “are you…alright Iain?” a bit like she’d found him perched on the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge rather than a kitchen worktop. Iain was of course not ok, and was eliminated for the cardinal sin of BINCAKE, which Mary found “sort of unacceptable”. In the same way she found Christine “sort of annoying” last series. It’s a shame, because Iain was having a decent episode until that point but let’s face it, he wasn’t going much further regardless of what happened, and this way he gets a whole army of besotted tumblr fangirls offering to bake him cakes and fight for justice for him and have his babies despite the fact he looks a bit like like the Nome King. And really, isn’t that the greatest prize of all? It’s not as though the champion wins a Ferrari or anything.
Extra Slice : Howard from last series really hates it when people compare him to Norman.