The Great British Bake Off is back! Senior writer, Alex Lawrence provides a rundown of the first week: Cake Week!
The new series of baking brilliance is underway as a fresh batch of bakers’ head into the iconic tent of Channel 4’s The Great British Bake-off. The bakers begin to show off their skills in hopes they will secure the legendary Hollywood Handshake. With the first episode airing last Tuesday night, viewers were in for a treat as they watched the 12 new faces overcome the task of making a signature, technical and showstopper, all surrounding the weekly bake-off theme.
The first episode is the first chance judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood will see the baker’s excellence across various baking skills, from cakes, pastries, bread and many more of the nation’s sweet and savoury favourites. From thousands of applicants, the tent this year is filled with bakers across the country and returning judges Hollywood and Leith and witty presenters Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas all in their baking bubble due to the pandemic.
Meet The Contestants:
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Amanda: From London, baker Amanda currently works as a Met Police detective. Having baked with her mum from a young age, her Greek-Cypriot heritage will hopefully have a considerable influence on her bakes throughout the competition.
Chigs: The sales manager from Leicestershire, forty-year-old Chigs, is new to the baking world as he began baking during the lockdown in 2020. He hopes to impress the judges with his bakes and his love for chocolate work.
Crystelle: Born in London with Kenyan and Portuguese parents, Crystelle wants to bring her unique heritage into her bakes using spices and infused flavours.
Freya: The group’s baby and vegan baker Freya is the youngest baker in the tent, aged nineteen. She wants to show off her baking skills, with her goal to make the judges unaware her bakes are with vegan alternatives.
George: Grown-up is a Greek-Cypriot household. George was taught to bake by his mum and wants to enter the tent with bakes that represent his Greek heritage by their flavours and presentation.
Giuseppe: Self-confessed food-snob and Chief Engineer Giuseppe loves baking and was taught by his father, a professional chef. He loves incorporating hints of engineering precisions and Italian infusions.
Jairzeno: Starting his baking journey in 2014, Jairzeno says that baking is like breathing…He likes to bake with rich flavours by using lots of Caribbean spices.
Jürgen: Originally from the Black Forest in Germany, Jürgen moved to the UK in 2003. His favourite bake is his family favourite Jewish challah bread which he makes for his friends and family.
Lizzie: A retired nurse and midwife, Lizzie loves classic baking recipes and traditional bakes. Yet, she still gets excited by bakes that allow her to experiment with new flavours.
Rocha: Living with a prominent Jamaican family, Rochica wants to reflect her Caribbean heritage with the flavours, passion and love in all her bakes.
Tom: Over the past four years, Tom’s passion for baking has grown. He loves baking pies, quiches and bread. He hopes to impress the judges by creating bakes that are fun and exciting.
The first bake of the competition wanted the bakers to make 12 mini rolls.
Presenters Lucas and Fielding told the contestants they could be any flavour and decorated anyway. Still, they had to make sure they had 12 identical mini rolls to present to the judges.
As the judges made their way through the contestants, they became stunned and worried about what the bakers were planning to present. Being the first bake under the GBBO tent, George and Lizzie had a slower start getting their sponges into the oven, and Freya would be baking vegan.
As tension grew within the tent, it was the task of ensuring a perfectly defined mini roll was made, which put all bakers on edge. For the perfect roll to be achieved, the bakers needed total composure to make sure their sponge wasn’t over-baked, as this could result in the sponge faultily cracking.
As viewers, it wasn’t until after the break we got to see what the judges thought of each of the baker’s mini rolls. As Prue and Paul tasted the different flavours and infusions of the sponges, Maggie impressed them as her bake had a nice swirl with great flavour.
Wrapped in red and white gingham, the first technical challenge of the series was set by Prue. With each baker given the same ingredients and the same recipe, Leith announced that they might not know this recipe if they were under 35. To which the first technical of the year was the traditional malt loaf.
To make the perfect malt loaf, the bakers needed to make sure they made their malt loaf sticky and rich, which came challenging to those that we’re unsure of the process of making this traditional tasty treat. When the time came for the contestants to put their bakes behind their photo, the judges blindly judged how well the bakers had read and understood the recipe.
Sadly, Amanda fell at the technical hurdle as her malt loaf had too many flour pockets. On the other side of the judging table, it was Maggie who yet again impressed the judges. Not only does she look like Prue, but her Malt loaf was, to the judges, ‘just perfect’.
With cake week coming to a close, it was time for the showstopper, where bakers had the chance to wow both the judges and the viewers.
The first showstopper of the series certainly didn’t disappoint. The contestants were tasked to create an anti-gravity illusion cake, representing a precious memory. Some of the baker’s ideas revolved around their first memory of baking, a family dedication, childhood flashbacks and an unforgettable past holiday.
Within the showstopper, every minute was crucial. Not only did the bake need to taste good, but it had to have a well thought through creative decorative element to it.
From waves, flowers, ice-creams, beanstalks and lightbulbs. The 12 new bakers aimed high to impress and show their skills to the judges and make them question how their cake could be still standing!
It was definitely a WOW moment…
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With all three bakes completed, it was time to name the first star baker of the series and sadly say goodbye to someone.
With his impressive standing light bulb cake, which connected the art of mechanics and baking, German-born Jürgen became the star baker for the first episode of the new series.
Unfortunately, it was time for the remaining contestants to say their farewells to Tom, who sadly didn’t achieve the perfect bake in the showstopper.
And with that cake-based mayhem finishing, biscuit week begins!