Great British Bake Off 2013, Week 1 - Creative cakes

Great British Bake Off 2013, Week 1 - Creative cakes

by Urvashi Roe 20 August 2013

Tuesday nights are once again filled with baking pleasure as Great British Bake Off returned for a 4th series. Former BakeOff contestant, Urvashi Roe, will be blogging for us in weeks to come, but for now Mecca gives a run down of highlights of the first episode.

View more from this series:

Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life.

Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life.

The nation and Twitter were gripped as #GBBO, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and Mel and Sue all trended on Twitter with over 70,000 tweets made in the opening episode of the show. We were back to familiar territory with the lovely marquee, but there was a new twist with 13 contestants rather than 12. Perhaps one week two bakers will have to sadly leave the show.

Amazingly the show started off with what seemed like a comparatively simple challenge. The bakers had to cook a twist on a classic sandwich cake. Surely any cook worth their salt can make a sandwich cake. But as Paul Hollywood said, “There’s nowhere to hide with a sandwich cake. If they burn it, if they sink it, if they don’t weigh it up correctly they’re in serious trouble”.

It was good to see the first gluten free cake making an appearance amongst the Victoria sandwiches, carrot cakes and grapefruit sandwiches. Well done to Howard for showing that rice flour can make for a very light bake.

Mary didn’t want to see a classic victoria sandwich filled with strawberry jam and cream. But guess what Glenn thought? ”I think Mary will love the classic nature of this strawberry and cream victoria sandwich”. Ultimately Paul thought it looked a bit awkward and too large. Although Mary said the moisture had run into the cake the immortal words “soggy bottom” were not heard.

My particular favourite was Frances whose sandwich cake literally looked like a sandwich as she used loaf shaped silicon moulds to make her cake, complete in a “paper bag” made from fondant icing. We also saw some creativity in Mark’s poppy and lemon seed cake which he was attempting to carve into the shape of a lemon. Sadly the bits he wanted to chop off were some of the few parts that were cooked!

The first episode was not without its casualties as blue plasters were handed out with gusto. Just more proof that baking a sandwich cake wasn’t as easy as it first appeared. Lucy, Christine and Howard all completed their cakes with injuries.

Mark had problems with the temperature setting on his oven. Ruby’s cream curdled on her rhubarb and custard cake leading to the first tears of the show. Luckily she got a comforting hug from Sue.

However most of the cakes scored well - particularly Lucy, Howard and Ali. Even though Paul did his best to not like some. There was tension when after a suitable dramatic pauses Paul announced: ”annoyingly I really liked it” about Beca’s grapefruit sandwich cake. ”It left a refreshing flavour in my mouth”.

Kimberley’s blood orange cake pictured above “tastes a lot better than it looks” according to Mary, which meant that I would have adored it as I thought it looked very pretty!

Robert’s pecan and apple cake was described as “neat” by Paul. ”A good flavour” said Mary.

Christine ran out of time at the end to complete the “weaving” in the icing on her basket cake with strawberries, but both judges were happy with the taste.

Next up was the first technical challenge. The contestants had to make an Angel Food Cake - so called because although it’s light and airy there’s no fat in the cake.

However, don’t think it’s completely angelic as it is topped with whipped cream and drizzled with a lemon and passion fruit curd.

Victoria sponge
Glenn's strawberry and cream Victoria sponge
Chocolate cake
Christine took the phrase “I’ll eat my hat” quite literally, by making chocolate cake hat on a jauntily sloped cake stand. Mary thought it looked fun and had a lovely shine

Here we saw the first schoolboy error as Toby got confused with containers and added salt instead of sugar to his cake. One suspected it wasn’t going to do well ”so I now have a twisted, deformed, salty ….. ayyy-yaaah” Toby exclaimed.

The Angel Food Cakes varied dramatically and Mary remarked that someone (Mark) clearly had time to do some piping. ”It looks straight from the 1970’s” said Paul. ”I can’t remember” laughed Mary concentrating on cutting into the cake.

Even before Paul and Mary tasted Toby’s cake you knew all wasn’t well. ”It’s sort of leaning”. “It has no rise at all”, “Oh dear”, ”It’s raw”. The final straw had to be the salt and the nation watched Paul spit out Toby’s cake. ”Don’t try that Mary”, said Paul. We were reminded of John’s salt Rum Baba in 2012 - “Look what happened to John” Paul said somewhat optimistically (he won the last year’s show).

Finally the showstopper and the contestants had to make the mother of all chocolate cakes. Moist full flavoured chocolate sponges, master the fickle art of tempering, and come up with flawless decoration.

Lucy plumps for an interesting chocolate thyme cake. Ali goes for a raspberry and chocolate mix. A number of animals appear on the cakes too. The “classic” Bake Off squirrel and a chocolate bear named Paul ambling through a black forest gateaux inspired cake from Howard. Mary was worried that many of the contestants were trying to fit too much into these cakes.

First up was Toby. Would he fare better after Salty Cake Gate? ”It’s a mess,” said Paul. ”Of course” said Toby. That was short and sweet!

Christine took the phrase “I’ll eat my hat” quite literally, by making chocolate cake hat on a jauntily sloped cake stand. Mary thought it looked fun and had a lovely shine.

Ali who had been doing well so far also didn’t fare brilliantly with his chocolate cake. “It looks a little bit childish,” said Mary.

After Glenn’s sizeable strawberry and cream cake, his towering Gaudi inspired cake was the tallest cake in the room. ”Can you do little things?” asked Mary. Glenn promised to make petit fours if he was still in the show in a few weeks time.

The Star Baker crown went to space satellite designer Rob who could clearly showed that cake baking wasn’t rocket science. No one was really surprised that Toby was the first to leave the show, after his salty Angel cake his chocolate showstopper would have really needed to stop the show.

Next week it’s bread week and it looks like there will be plaited loaf fun and games again.