GBBO5: Flappers, dappers and lollygaggers

September 25, 2019 10:24 am Published by 2 Comments

Get your glad rags on: it’s back to the Roaring Twenties in the tent this week! Yes, in an entirely contrived and wholly unnecessary 1920s themed week, the bakers are set to dance to the judges’ tune: twirling pastry, cropping icing, slicking butter – and all that jazz!

It's back to the Roaring Twenties this week - but who walks the cake walk?

It’s a time of dramatic social and political change – but let’s put Boris and his troubles to one side for an hour or so, and watch some people drop things and cry in a tent instead.

Pie in the face, Pie on the floor

In the first part of the period drama, it’s four ‘highly decorative custard pies’ that are called for. No shaving foam toppings here: it’s all frippery and feather boas, with the contestants conjuring up mirror glazes, compotes, gelées and meringue seafoam. (I think the boys in the trenches had a song about that.)

We watch Henry accept the Kool-Aid, Helena pipe suckers onto octopus tentacles, Noel discuss his flapper girl past (‘I’ve never felt so alive’) and Rosie drop her horse-vaccine-syringed tarts onto the floor. It’s pure silent comedy slapstick.

It’s David who gets the handshake for his silky smooth custard, from a silky smooth Paul. ‘Perfect’, he purrs. ‘Impeccable’.

Vanilla (Pie in the) Sky

You can’t have custard without vanilla – and for the very best custard, you need the very best vanilla! In an unexpectedly coy move, Channel 4 disguises its branded ingredients. Nevertheless, Alice used a very recognizable bottle of vanilla extract on which to balance her tarts.

We recognize it at Naturally Good Food because we sell gallons of the stuff. It’s a Nielsen Massey vanilla extract: the choice of top chefs, serious bakers and people in baking game-shows around the world.

This Madagascar Bourbon organic vanilla extract is made from certified organic vanilla beans and pure organic alcohol. It’s produced by a cold-extraction process that ever-so-slowly and ever-so-gently extracts the flavour from the beans. The process can take up to five weeks to complete and gives you a creamy, sweet, smooth and mellow vanilla at the end – rather, if you like, like pure ‘essence of Henry’, added to your baking.

If you’d like to add a touch of the other contestants instead, we stock several other extracts too, along with Nielsen Massey’s vanilla paste. See our range and find out more in our blog here: Use extracts not essences for baking.

Perhaps, inspired, you’re now looking for a genuine 1920s custard recipe, along with that real 1920s ethos of Making Sure Your Man is Well-fed and Happy? You’ll find it here, along with many others, in a wonderful collection from ‘The Ladies of Perry, Kansas, and Vicinity’, published in the year 1920 itself. Salmon pudding, anyone? Frizzled dried beef? Marshmallow salad? It sure is the bee’s knees!

Having a swell time

Swing-dancing onwards, the Technical Challenge, like a 1920s Ponzi share scheme, saw a bubble of ambitions (and deflation). The judges asked for 18 ‘jam beignet souffles’ with a ‘sabayon’ (custard sauce) – a kind of Roaring Era riff on a jam doughnut.

Light and airy, as insubstantial as the theme itself, these little balls (or in David’s case, splodges) floated, swelled and blew up into puffs of air.

But Michael’s, like his dreams, floated away: jazz turned to the blues, for him. He declined the offer of a walk outside: ‘I could have gone outside for a walk, but I knew I wouldn’t have come back’, he said bravely, channelling the (fairly) recently deceased Captain Oates. Amazingly, his weren’t even the worst.

Steph, meanwhile, quietly carried on, sieving the pips out of her jam, even as the tent collapsed in catastrophe around her. Paul, half-man, half-wolf, wolfed down her offerings.

Speakeasy Spectacular

But it wasn’t all making whoopee and jag juice in the 1920s, you know. In Oshkosh, Wisconsin, it was, at this very time, a criminal offence to gaze into someone’s eyes as you were dancing with them. This is an era of puritanism, political purges and prohibition, as much as flappers and dappers. And thus, the contestants are asked to produce a Prohibition Cake – with a hidden cocktail theme.

Helena’s red velvet blood cake, drenched in Vampire’s Kiss cocktail, is based on Bram Stoker’s 1920s Dracula. ‘A mixture of sinister and very pretty’, Paul admits. ‘Just like me’, she fires back.

‘I’m not looking for a boozy flavour in my cake’, announces Michael, ignoring the fact that that’s precisely what he’s been told to create. ‘You haven’t got the flavour’, Paul notes dismissively (and inevitably).

Henry, meanwhile, is using caffeine. ‘This is the strongest coffee I could find in the world’, he boasts. ‘Well – in Waitrose’. Bless. There are people – and I’m not saying Henry is one of them – for whom Waitrose is the world.

The contestants, as ever, ‘faced the judgement’ of ‘an angry polar bear and a posh lady’. Prue described Michelle’s cake as ‘over-thought’. Michelle clearly had a few unspoken thoughts about that.

Flip Flop at the Flea Hop

So who walked the cake walk? Steph, once again, with her engaging modesty and ability to turn her hand to practically anything. She’s the Polly to Paul and Prue’s Basil-and-Sybil.

And who danced into the sunset together, in the much-anticipated double-firing? Michelle and Helena (with the latter claiming to have the ability to ‘look on the bright side of all things’, rather than, as has been abundantly proven over the past five weeks, to find the dark side of literally any challenge).

Assuming the producers are tackling a decade a week, it’s the Great Depression and Dust Bowls next week. But as I said at the start, let’s leave current affairs out of this for now: we all need a bit of comfort viewing this autumn!

Naturally Good Reads v2



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This post was written by Yzanne


  • Mamanez says:

    Excellent and entertaining comments….they are scraping the bowl a bit this year and I’m not learning as much as in previous years….sabayon…..baking? Spooky señora should not have gone this week….others less succesful

    • Yzanne says:

      I have to say I’m with you with the ‘scraping the bowl’ bit – there’s been quite a lot of non-baking! I’d also like to see them do more savoury baking. Yes, Helena was a shock departure too. I suppose there’s more to it than they show on the programme, but the editors could help guide that process a little better. As it is, we’ve now had two weeks where it appeared the wrong person was sent home!

      Best wishes,

      Yzanne Mackay
      Writer and Editor
      Naturally Good Food

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