The Great British Baking Show season 4 arrives on PBS with a one-two punch of back to back episodes, featuring the traditional “Cake” and “Biscuit” challenges.
The good news is that The Great British Baking Show‘s national schedule isn’t nearly as bad as it was last year. The bad is that in order to make that happen, PBS front loaded this premiere week with two hours worth of episodes–which not all channels are bothering to follow. (In fact one of my local PBS stations isn’t airing the first episode, “Cake”, until the 25th and “Biscuits” until the 30th. Because why? We just don’t know.)
But for those whose PBS stations are obediently following the national schedule and who saw both episodes, (or like my other PBS station, something close enough to it, they aired the two episodes starting on the 15s–because that’s not confusing at all!) let us rejoice! It’s time, for the last season, to run down the antics in the tent. On your marks, get set BAAAAYKE.
Our first of two Signature Bakes is the moist “drizzle” cake, which mans most of our contestants will be heading for the citrus baskets. Oranges, lemons, bells of Saint Clements, they’re all here. Some of them arrive with their signature brand ready for inspection as well–Candice and her lipstick that matches the mixer exactly, for instance. Salasi’s unruffled cool is here, showing off his steady hands–he takes baking competitions and global financial collapse both in stride. Tom is making a G&T drizzle cake which makes Mary gasp with delight. The rest kneel at their ovens and pray that they might stand out later in the episode.
Usually we break everyone down with notes on how they did, but due to time and word count constraints, we’ll just note our passing and failing categories tonight.
Passing The Signature: Benjamina, Candice, Salasi, Jane
Failing The Signature: Lee, Michael, Kate, Tom, Rav, Andrew, Louise, Val
The Technical challenge is the very british jaffa cake. It’s one of those things where all of them have eaten one and none of them have made one. We’ll run down in order:
12. Andrew: Made them upside down
11. Lee: Chocolate too thick
10. Val: Wrong shape
9. Louise: Dull tops
8. Rav: Messy
7. Jane: One was backwards
6. Benjamina: Decorated wrong
5. Candice: Good flavor
4. Kate: Neatly done
3. Michael: Nice shine
2. Tom: Small and dainty like they should be
1. Salasi: Practically perfect.
On to the showstopper, which in Cake Week is a mirror glazed cake, which is a Genoese sponge cake with a highly glazed topping that should be so close to a mirror that “Paul should be able to look at his reflection in it.”
Here are the results:
Jane’s Chocolate and Orange Mirror Cake “Less is more” says Paul, and he means it as a compliment. Mary says it’s beautifully simple. Paul does note it’s a bit like the jaffa cake from yesterday, but an elegant one.
Rav’s Colombian Mocha Mirror Glaze Cake His texture is way too dry, but Paul calls the flavors spot on.
Tom’s Black Forest Broken Mirror Paul says it has no flavor.
Michael’s Matcha Tea Chocolate Mirror Glaze Cake Mary looks ill and calls the flavor “grassy.”
Kate’s One Swallow Does Not Make a Summer Cake Mary *hates* the color, Paul says it looks like penguins upon an icy sea. At least the flavor gets high marks.
Salasi’s Raspberry and White Chocolate Mirror Glaze Cake They like the bravery of using fruit, but the glaze has no shine. Both judges love the taste anyway.
Val’s Chocolate Sponge with Four Fruits Frosting Mary loves the shine, but the not quite buttercream inside makes Paul order her to see him after class.
Lee’s Strawberry Surprise Mirror Cake It’s too simple, and the sponge is dry–the strawberries are not surprise enough apparently.
Louise’s Raspberries and Cream Mirror Glaze Cake Clearly the glaze didn’t make it on the cake. Thankfully its delicious.
Benjamina’s White Chocolate Mirror Glaze It’s declared smashing all around. Paul looks extra pleased.
Candice’s Mirror Mirror Glaze Cake Mary notes the top shine is good, but the sides needed work. The slice coming out with the mango jelly gets “oohs” from Sue and Mel. But the Genoese is not cooked properly.
Andrew’s Salted Caramel Mirror Glaze Cake Paul calls it stunning in the flavor, and they love the shine on the cake.
As our first hour draws to a close, our first Star Baker goes to Jane, while poor Reverend Lee is out of the tent before we got to know him, or even remember his name. (No lie, I wrote the entire recap calling him Ian until he was eliminated.)
On to Biscuits, and a Sue-less episode! Our second Signature Bake of the premiere is to make iced biscuits, 24 in all. There are several variation of “tea” biscuits, either flavored with, or in the shape of. Except for Val, who is making ice cream cones, because of course she is. She’s one of the few doing shortbread a dough with the rub in method, instead of the creaming method. Andrew is also doing shortbread, because redheaded Weasleys always have to be different. (He looks like a long-lost Weasley no?)
Once again, to save on space a word count, we’ll simply group by pass/fail.
Passing The Signature: Michael, Benjamina, Jane, Candice, Salasi, Rav, Kate, and Tom (who got a Hollywood Handshake)
Failing The Signature: Andrew, Louise, Val
The second technical is 12 Viennese Whirls. Unlike the first biscuits, these are super soft filled with cream and jam. Once again, let’s roll these down in the order they are ranked.
11. Salasi: No definition, too crumbly
10. Louise: Really flat
9. Michael: Too thin
8. Candice: A bit raw
7. Tom: Crumbly, but good flavor
6. Rav: Too small
5. Val: Good whirl but slightly raw
4. Andrew: Jam well done
3. Benjamina: Good definition
2. Jane: Nice whirl
1. Kate: Absolutely beautiful
On to the final showstopper of the evening: a 30cm high Biscuit House, that should have figures in it and creates a scene that “tells the judges (and the folks at home) something about you”. Basically pushing for gingerbread houses, but not at Christmas.
Let’s roll through the results:
Andrew’s Punting in Cambridge Gingerbread Scene He’s the one asleep in the punt. It gets to 30cm and his gingerbread reminds Paul of his mother’s baking.
Val’s World Travels It collapsed just after time was called, which is why the Statue of Liberty is fallen down like Planet of the Apes. “Bless her, she gave up” says Val. mary looks sad about Val’s time management, even though the flavor was good.
Benjamina’s New York, NY Not at collapsed but also more childlike than Val’s. paul calls it “a bit messy.”
Tom (and Pod’s) Near Death Experience Paul thinks it arty. Mary likes the gingerbread.
Kate’s I Promise I Will Do My Best Her best is good enough, but not her gingerbread.
Jane’s Hasting Old Town Fishing Net Ships and Boat The gingerbread is too soft.
Rav’s Gingerbread Christmas Fairground His scene had supports that had to be taken away, and the result is wonky, and tastes burnt.
Michael’s Trip to See Santa In Lapland It’s messy–Michael calls it “Santa’s Workshop from hell.” Good flavor anyway. Paul says best flavor so far.
Salasi’s Stained Glass Window Gingerbread Church Mary doesn’t mind the crunch but there’s no ginger flavor.
Louise’s Gingerbread Wedding She said when she started that if she failed to make this scene of her upcoming wedding, it boded ill…and well…yeah. That happened. Paul puts the groom out of his misery.
Candice’s The King Bill Pub It’s stunning. But what’s really stunning is the inside:
No one even came close, and the flavor is a winner too. Mary loves eating the carpet.
As our second hour draws to a close, our second Star Baker goes to Candice and her pub. Our second contestant to go is Louise….let’s hope her wedding isn’t a disaster like this episode was.
Next week: BREAD WEEK.