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Great British Bake Off 2019: Cake Week

Great British Bake Off 2019: Cake Week

by Chetna Makan 28 August 2019

Chetna Makan gives us a rundown of what happened during the first week in the Bake Off tent, including who triumphed, which cakes stood out and which contestant sadly had to leave.

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Here comes the Bake Off! A whole ten years of baking in a tent by amateur bakers. Lots of sweat, blood and a crazy of number of eggs later we are back in Berkshire with this new glorious bunch.

The judges and presenters gathered together dressed as the Wizard of Oz cast to launch the new series – other than the fact that Paul says he has no heart, I’m not sure if the rest made any sense. I am sure the viewers at home agreed with Noel though.

The first week in the tent is always the most nerve-racking for the bakers, getting used to the surrounding, ovens, other bakers, cameras in your faces and – something I only learned after going in the tent – talking to the camera and presenters while baking. No one wants to be the first to leave the tent; there’s nothing wrong with dropping your cake or coming last in the technical challenge but going home in the first week is the worst bit.

The first signature challenge for Cake Week was to make a fruitcake. I’m not a fan myself but it’s still a good challenge to start the series. Everyone gets straight to work and out come all those recipes straight from grandma’s cookbook – although there are plenty of twists added.

As soon as Sandi says ‘BAKE!’ we have the first casualty in the tent, with Michael cutting his finger the minute he touched his knife. A few minutes later he slices his other finger, and then his third by the time the oven has harely had a chance to heat up. At this rate he might have all his fingers in plasters by week two – I hope the tent had a large stock of plasters for him! Who can blame him though; the knives in the tent are much sharper than what the average home baker is used to.

Michael's hands got a few nicks and cuts right from the get go
Sandi and Noel were back again to helpfully talk to the contestants as they desperately baked for their lives

At this point we get to hear a little bit about all the bakers, their day jobs (which some of them might have quit already), their families and where they came from. I love this little background story about them all.

Poor Dan doesn't get off to a great start, with Paul doubting his bake before he’d even mixed the eggs and sugar together – not a great way to start things off. But it turned out that Paul wasn’t wrong, as Dan’s first bake didn't get enough time to bake properly.

Henry made a stunning lighthouse but unfortunately dropped it at the last second due to some very nervous and shaky hands. I am sure having a camera in your face doesn't help, but all in all the bakers did well with their fruitcakes.

Harvey showed off some serious skill in the technical challenge, despite dropping his lighthouse in the signature round
Jamie struggled in the technical, coming in last place with his angel cake slices

The technical challenge saw the first sighting of that dreaded gingham cloth, hiding the secret ingredients for the task at hand. The bakers were tasked with making angel cake slices, which is certainly no mean feat. Jamie, who has a tough time getting the batter right, does not panic and I love how he casually makes a second batch with little stress in sight. At the end he happily presents some very dodgy looking angel cake slices, which in his own words are probably inedible. It’s no surprise that he comes last in the challenge, while Henry places first with his almost-perfect angel cakes.

I love the ‘dream birthday cake’ showstopper challenge, something I myself look forward to baking for my kids’ birthdays. This challenge was laden with innuendos – from Helena’s fairy (or as Paul heard, ‘furry’) garden and Noel’s talk of snakes and worms at David’s bench to Phil’s very odd rocket shaping. But then Bake Off just wouldn’t be Bake Off without them!

Alice prepared a wonderful sweet shop-inspired bake for her showstopper
Dan was the first baker to leave the tent this series

I thought they all did a great job of the first showstopper, but if I could choose to have a slice of cake from any of them I would go for Alice’s sweet shop-inspired raspberry cake, which looked so light and delicious.

Then came the time which all the bakers were dreading; the name of the first baker to leave the tent. Though I think Jamie could have gone home, as he came last in the technical and his showstopper didn't look or taste good, it was sadly Dan’s turn. In some ways I am glad, as I’d love to see more bakes from Jamie – he was quite entertaining!

Michelle was named Star Baker, thanks to her incredible fairy-inspired carrot cake. Well done to her (and to Dan!) for being part of the special Bake Off squad.

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