October 17, 2018 1:51 pm Leave your thoughts
Hej – It’s Danish Week
When my pal Carolyn asked me to write a blog piece on the Great British Bake Off, I jumped at the chance.
One of the perks of running my own food and drink magazine, Taste the Seasons, is that I get to meet some of the stars of the show, usually at food fairs.
I’ve interviewed former contestants Howard Middleton, Val Stones, Andrew Smyth, Frances Quinn and Luis Troyano. I once spent four hours making a Bakewell tart at the home of series two runner-up Holly Bell.
And I received three cheeky Mary Berry winks when I put questions to the Queen of Baking herself at Chatsworth. I’ll stop name-dropping now.
I’ve never once baked anything that’s appeared on the Bake Off – I’m always watching my waistline so, sadly, I have to temper my love for pies and cakes.
But I loved the show. For me, it was a return to simpler times before baked goods started appearing on supermarket shelves. It was also about the friendship that blossomed between the contestants, and, of course, the endless innuendos about soggy bottoms, tarts and crumpets.
Then I stopped watching it. As most of you will know, the show switched from BBC to Channel 4 last year, losing Mary and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins in the process.
Only Paul Hollywood from the old gang remained. I watched the first episode of the new series and, while I still enjoyed it, it just wasn’t the same, so I tuned out.
A welcome return to Bakeoff for me
It’s 8pm and those familiar opening credits roll on my right-hand PC monitor (I don’t have a TV anymore).
On my left-hand monitor, I’m, erm, monitoring Twitter and the #GBBO hashtag. It’s Danish Week – a Bakeoff first – and there’s all to play for with a place in the semi-final at stake.
After an introduction by Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, naturally dressed as Vikings, we’re into the first challenge, with the contestants tasked with baking rye bread to create an open sandwich.
“This is the quarter-finals now,” warns Paul. “Any problems, I’ll be on ‘em.”
We have four women – Kim-Joy, Manon, Briony and Ruby – and one man, Rahul, or #lastmanstanding, as he’s known in the Twitterverse.
He seems a likeable fella, if rather dopey. But it’s clear that he’s out of his depth and, even before the judging begins, Twitter has made up it’s mind!
Mary Berry wouldn’t have it!
There’s a brief outpouring of online shock when someone’s “tomato swans” fall on to the floor, and plenty of viewers not too keen on the simplicity of the challenge.
“Making half a sandwich is not baking,” tweets Spooky Si. Another viewer thinks Mary would be less than impressed.
But most of the finished sandwiches look delicious. Manon is scalded by Paul for making a “French loaf” during Danish week, while Rahul gets it in the neck from both judges.
Paul and sidekick Prue Leigh tell him it’s “a bit of a mess” as Rahul shakes his head and apologises. His bread looks burnt, at least on the outside.
“The bread’s awful,” says Paul. “It’s turning back into dough in my mouth.”
It’s all pretty brutal for a family baking show – bring on the tears.
Most stressful technical yet?
The technical challenge is far more tough. Our heroes are told to create 14 Danish dough delicacies which resemble spherical pancakes containing apple and cinnamon. Yum.
But most of them have no idea where to begin – and Paul’s recipe, with half the method missing, is hardly helpful.
Twitter seems not to care who’s going to win – more who’s going home, and there’s plenty of affection for Rahul, who must have had better weeks than this to reach the quarter-final.
“They have serious issues,” says Paul of his bakes. “They taste burnt.”
He finishes last in the challenge.
It’s not going well for him.
Rahul tops Twitter
By now “Rahul” is the number one trending topic on Twitter in the UK. Bake-off hashtags make up half of the top ten. The show is clearly not suffering from its change to the presenting line-up.
“Save Rahul,” writes one tweeter. “Pray for Rahul!” adds another. I doubt even the most optimistic punter would have bet on him staying in the tent for another week.
And so on to the showstopper challenge to make a traditional bake from Danish pastries shaped like human figures.
“Oh, it’s just taking ages!” moans Rahul as he tackles his pastry layers, then, complaining about his mixer: “Oh my God, look, it’s literally walking.”
It’s not, though, is it?
The finished creations are taken up to the front for judging. The designs are beautiful. Prue tells Kim-Joy: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen more exquisite piping.”
Then we see Rahul’s effort, an Indian king. I don’t wish to be unkind, but it looks like the Wicker Man wearing a gown of raw dough (it’s actually marzipan). Some icing and sweets save it a little – but only a little. It’s a mess.
As we head into the commercial break, it looks all over for Rahul. Twitter can barely contain its anguish.
Ruby receives plaudits for her buttery pastry and honeycomb, and Briony for her flavours. Manon’s pastry is undercooked on the inside and overcooked on the outside.
But Rahul gets looks of pity from the judges. Paul tells him: “It’s just burnt – you’ve left in the oven ten minutes too long. It’s very dry.”
Rahul reacts: “I don’t deserve to be here anymore. I deserve to be kicked out.”
More crying – both on the TV screen and the Twitter one as hundreds of fans simultaneously burst into tears over a baking show.
Ruby wins Star Baker, but no-one on Twitter cares. They’re already saying their goodbyes to Rahul.
“The person leaving us this week,” says Noel, “is…”
Pause for effect. Obvs.
I know I’ve not seen the rest of this series, and I don’t know how well this chap has fared in previous episodes, but he has been AWFUL in all three challenges this week.
Needless to say, Twitter goes into meltdown. MORE tears! Paul tells Rahul he needs to up his game next week. Well, yeah! Try not burning everything you make, and learn some presentation skills!
Hard luck, Manon. You were robbed. #JusticeForManon begins trending with tweets about “Britain’s shame” and “The Great British Disgrace”.
But I really enjoyed the show. Yes, I still miss the humour of Mel and Sue, the historical segments and the good-cop-bad-cop partnership of Mary and Paul, but will I be back to watch Rahul et al next week?
You betcha. Might even cry next time!
Andie Darlington is the editor and owner of Taste the Seasons magazine. She launched the magazine almost eight years ago, to give a voice to Derbyshire’s food and drink heroes, winning the Magazine of the Year title at the Midlands Media Awards in year one and being a finalist every year since. The magazine won for a second time in 2016. She has interviewed many of the contestants of previous Bake-offs.
Kim-Joy’s Apricot & Frangipane Kagekone
Fancy having a go yourself at one of this weeks delicacies? Then head over to the shows official site where you can make like Kim-Joy and recreate her delicious Apricot & Frangipane Kagekone.
But before you go, make sure you’ve got everything you need.
We stock all of the non-fresh ingredients here at Naturally Good Food!
For the dough:
80g caster sugar
12g fast-action dried yeast
175ml whole milk
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
100ml cool water
250g unsalted butter, sliced and chilled
For the frangipane:
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
70g caster sugar
2 large eggs
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
2 tsp Moroccan almond extract
finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed orange
For the apricot purée:
250g dried apricots
juice of 1/2 orangeTags: almond extract, bake off, baking, baking powder, bread flour, caster sugar, danish pastry, danish week, dried apricots, flour, GBBO, gbbo8, ground almonds, kagekone, mail order, Recipe, vanilla bean paste
This post was written by Carla Wilson