Crisp canvas creaks and flaps in the gentle Berkshire breeze and an airy mist of sifted flour takes flight. Amid the scent of lemon zest and cardamom, we behold a pristine batch of one dozen perfect, oven-fresh little bakers . . . yes, Bake Off is back!
First up it’s the signature challenge of a Madeira cake – that plainest of plain cakes. Now it’s not unknown to pop a cherry or two in the mix to liven things up, but this cake is hardly renowned for its creative potential. So how did our virgin bakers fare?
Mary, zipped up in a quilted jacket against said gentle Berkshire breeze, says that she doesn’t want things to go too far. She’s looking for a classic with a crack, ‘Because you can’t beat it’. Marie, Dorret and Flora heed Mary’s chilling advice. Mel and Sue receive a written warning from the double entendre police.
Then a group of would be rebels decides to spice things up a little – Nadiya opts for cardamom, it’s ginger for Ian, lemon thyme for Ugne and caraway for Paul, who we are told looks like Mr Hollywood . . . and has the same name . . . he’s called Paul.
Alvin and Sandy take the fruity route – the former has some very chunky figs, the latter claims her apricots are ‘seriously well dispersed’. Paul does not look convinced. Sandy scatters her fruit but her confidence is shaken. I want to hug Sandy.
Tamal injects a little flavour into his pistachio Madeira with a rosewater syrup. Yes, the trainee anaesthetist is literally injecting his cake with a syringe.
Mat adds gin to his glaze – Mary is beaming. Mary tastes the cake but can’t taste the gin. Mary is scowling.