As the cameras take us on our weekly sweep through the verdant grounds of stately Welford Park, there’s a little tweak to the familiar music as I’m sure I hear the strains of the harpsichord. It heralds another Bake Off first – Tudor week.
Of course, this is a pretty anachronistic portrait of the Tudor kitchen – complete with stand mixers, blowtorches and Neff Slide and Glide ovens, and there are so many comic verilies, forsooths and my lieges that I half expect Dame Barbara Windsor to pop up and reprise her role from Carry on Henry.
We start with a signature challenge that calls for a display of savoury shaped pies. It seems there’s a new rule on Bake Off that says that any fancy cutters and moulds the bakers use must be homemade. Jane’s sixteen pies are arranged to form a Tudor rose; unfortunately, she’s only persuaded her husband to make one heart-shaped tin, so she has to laboriously line, fill and finish every pie individually before sliding it out of its casing and moving on to the next. On the plus side, her naked pie walls get a good baking and some serious Hollywood attention. Jane tells us ‘Paul’s just given them a squeeze and gave me a look’. You can hear the guffaw of the ghost of Sid James. Her nutmeg-spiced pies layered with chicken breast and sausage meat are also judged to have a ‘first rate filling’.
As the only one left in the tent not to have been crowned Star Baker, Selasi looks on paper like he’s at a disadvantage. Off paper, Selasi looks exactly like Selasi – cool as a Tudor cowcumber. He calmly preps and chats to Sue, oblivious to the fact he’s talking to someone with two sprigs of rosemary up her nose. His baked bouquet includes a batch of delicious pork and quail’s egg pies and some game pies that Mary describes as ‘very gamey’. I remember how our kitchen reeked when I cooked pigeon recently. This is one advantage of cooking in a tent – get those flaps open! Paul, who seems to be auditioning for a wider range of TV roles, tested out a new accent last week and now tries his hand at comedy. Mary quizzes Selasi about guinea fowl in Ghana – ‘are they wild?’ she asks. Paul replies ‘they’re livid, Mary’.