Karen Wright on all things bake off 2022.

20th September 2022

The Great British Bake Off is back! Yes, it is that time of year once again when fans of the show from all over the world settle down once a week, for ten weeks, to enjoy the culinary concoctions, creations and catastrophes that the ten new bakers showcase each week.

This year our twelve bakers are, Dawn, James, Janusz, Kevin, Maisan, Maxy, Rebs, Sandro, Abdul, Carole, Syabira and Will. Aged ranging from eighteen to sixty this year bakers offer us a diverse and exciting back story as many hail from counties far and wide.

WEEK TWO 

Week number two of this years Great British Bake Off was biscuit week. Although it is generally thought that they do the ‘easy’ the first few weeks I don’t think that is necessarily the case. Biscuits can be tricky things to get right, especially for the judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. Many a good baker has fallen foul of biscuit week. I enjoyed my biscuit week back in 2018, most probably because nothing went wrong for me and my showstopper biscuit ‘selfie’ adorns my wall at home to this day (well, a life size photograph of it does).

It is all a question of texture, not too dry. Not too chewy, must have a ‘snap’ neither underbaked nor overbaked. The signature was a macaron this year and in the words of the youngest baker Maisan “what can go wrong with a macaron” Another baker, Janusz, last week’s star said, “there are eighty-seven things that can go wrong with a macaron”!

I have had a go with these fiddly French fancies a time or two, but I have never really got on with them, too much sifting, resting and generally faffing with them so I am pleased I wasn’t challenged to do them in the tent.

The challenge was to make an illusion macaron, so one that resembled something else. We had mini burgers, raccoons, carrots, melons, peanuts amongst the offerings. To be perfectly honest, I was impressed by everyone, nobody really messed up big style, not in my book anyway. We had two handshakes this week in that challenge too, Maxy and Dawn, so they were well set up as they embarked upon the tricky technical.

The technical challenge where nobody has a clue what they will bake until they reveal the ingredients and a very sparse sheet of instructions. I might have done OK with this one as at least, once revealed, I did know what the bake was. The old classic biscuit, a Garibaldi! AKA, a fly pie!

The bakers got stuck into it and made a fair attempt. Interpreting the scant instructions makes it difficult to visualise the biscuit if you have never seen one in your life. Naturally then there were irregularities in the appearance not least of all as they were tasked with dipping the biscuits in chocolate and feathering a pattern on them. This is quite controversial in the biscuit world as it is not authentic at all. Two of the bakers misunderstood the word feathering and instead of making the well know pretty pattern with the white chocolate dragged over the dark, they made feathers out of white chocolate. To be honest, I thought that looked amazing. Poor Abdul came in last, and a surprise turn saw Reb’s come top in the technical.

On to the showstopper then. With very few out and out mess ups so far it was all to play for. The challenge was to create a three-dimensional face mask out of biscuits. What wonderful opportunity to play up your creativity with this bake. Getting the basic mask made, good and strong was the hardest part and most bakers chose a gingerbread as this is the sturdiest dough for this type of thing. The range of design ideas was quite incredible, and the results were outstanding. There were feathers, bright colours, flowers, horror, cubism all manner of beautiful masks. Just before the end when the bakers were asked to present their masks poor Carole came a cropper. Her beautiful mask broke and there was nothing at all she could do to salvage it. She cried and cried, and my heart went out to her. She obviously thought she was going to get the ‘chop’ but no, she made it through to week three. Maxy was awarded Star Baker and quite controversially, young Maisan left the tent!

All in all, another great week from the big white tent and well done to all the bakers in there. See you after next weeks exciting “bread week”

WEEK ONE 

Week one was as usual, Cake Week. The signature challenge was in my opinion quite straight forward. The bakers were challenged with making mini sandwich cakes. The results were generally quite good and there was a good variety of shapes, flavours and techniques to be judged by Paul and Prue. It was Rebs and Will who received the harshest critiques and at the other end of the scale it was Janusz , Abdul and Sandro who received the most praise.

The Technical challenge quite often sorts out the ‘wheat from the chaff’ as none of the bakers have a clue as to what is going to be expected of them, it is a total surprise as to what lurks beneath the tea towel that hides the ingredients for the challenge. When the bakers uncovered the ingredients, they discovered that this week’s challenge was to make a multi layered red velvet cake. What makes this bake quite unique is that the sponges rise from the use of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda rather than self-rising flour. To get the red colour in the sponge copious amounts of red food colour gel is used, but like everything else in the technical deciding how much of anything to use is quite difficult to decide. The filling and topping of the cake is traditionally a mix that includes cream cheese. This is quite a difficult thing to get a perfect consistency. I thought the bakers all produced a good-looking cake but of course they all must be judged, and I remember how nervous you feel as you await the verdict. James came in last on this first technical and Syabira came in top place and Paul Hollywood even said her cake was better than his!

The second day of the competition is the biggest and scariestday. If you have done well on day one, then it is an opportunity to ensure you get through to the next round but if you have had a couple of poor bakes then the Showstopper challenge can be a game changer. Do well and you stay in but if you have a third poor result then you may well be the person that must leave the tent.

The showstopper challenge was an interesting one I thought. The bakers were asked to make a cake that resembled their home, or at least a home that they have lived in at some point in their lives. Quite a challenge as most buildings have squared edges and I find making a square cake very difficult.Also making components like windows and doors that look realistic in such a short space of time can be daunting. The bakers all settled for quite a stylised look which was quite sensible really as if you were over ambitious with the details you could easily have run out of time. Will struggled with this challenge, he was trying to make a replica of his north London flat out of chocolate and orange sponges and the details out of gingerbread. Syabira made a very good showstopper and with her success with the technical I thought she was in line for star baker. However, it was Janusz that won that accolade, his rendition of his childhood home in Poland was deemed fabulous. His use of soy sauce in the cake and spiced orange buttercream impressed the judges and he was awarded Star Baker. Poor Will was the first baker to be sent home. Always difficult to be the first baker to leave the tent and he took it well.

So, week one is done. We have met the bakers and we go forward and look to enjoy week two, Biscuit week!

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