The Great Sport Relief Bake Off final was on BBC2 last night, but when I sat down to watch it I was so tired that even the thought of what colour sweater Paul Hollywood might wear (either black or navy, couldn’t see properly in this light/age/eyes) failed to keep my drooping eyelids suitably propped up. I have been worrying about his sweaters ever since he wore one which clashed terribly with his shoes in round two. Luckily he seems to be over that hump. I think Mary has taken him in hand. She is always immaculately turned out.
I left things in Mary’s capable hands, hit the record button and sloped off to bed.
Sadly I did not dream of macarons.
But at least I did not dream of running through streets covered in blood shouting ‘argh!’, which is what usually happens, so perhaps I was subliminally soothed by the thought of baking to come.
This afternoon, refreshed, invigorated, and with a small and ever dwindling supply of shortbread to keep myself company, I sat with Tallulah and rolled VT.
I confess that I did not enjoy it as much as the heats. The reason for this is that I am a total baking car crash addict. I like a drama. I like a fuss. I like it when things start to go a bit wrong, and really, in this final, everything went a bit too smoothly. I got quite excited when Angela Griffin forgot to drop the arm of her Kitchen Aid into the mixing bowl and splattered herself with cake mixture – twice. Especially when they cut to a shot of Paul Hollywood giggling like a loon as she wiped lumps of cake mixture off her face.
But really that was about as dramatic as things got. Even though Mel did her best to ramp up the tension by referring to them having been; ‘snatched from the jaws of banana loaf death.’
There just wasn’t enough heart rending angst for me. Although I’m sure the contestants felt it regardless.
The signature round was a bit hardcore, even for the final I thought. It was biscuits, which would have been fine if they hadn’t had to produce three separate types of biscuits: one a rich, crumbly shortbread; one an iced biscuit of some kind and one a sandwich biscuit with an interesting filling.
Anita Rani went with a themed biscuit trio, which was all a bit co-ordinated and finessed. She chose poker as her theme and produced jammy dodgers (poker chips), ginger biscuits that were iced freehand into looking like playing cards, and millionaire’s shortbread. It was all laid out on a poker cloth, and she even measured the ginger biscuits using an actual playing card for technical veracity! It was scarily accomplished. The only hairy moment being when she nearly couldn’t get the millionaire’s shortbread out of the tin and had to get Mel to heave away at one end while she whacked things with a palette knife at the other. I had a mental image of Winnie the Pooh stuck in the rabbit hole, and everyone pulling hard on his little fat legs to get him out.
I was probably the only person in the land juvenile enough to snigger when Mel commented to Anita as she watched her ice her playing cards: ‘I’ve never seen such a delicate nozzle employed on this show before.’
I had a mental image of Anita wearing some sort of icing related elephant’s trunk.
Getting back to the actual programme, rather than my bizarre mental images…
Angela also had a kind of a theme, which she named ginger binge. I liked this title. I might write a book one day called the ginger binge, possibly about a serial killer who only murders ginger girls. Then again, who knows.
She made gingerbread men; cardamon and ginger sandwich biscuits stuck together with lemon filling and ginger and lemon shortbreads. Paul nearly fainted with joy over Angela’s biscuits. He rolled out the old; ‘you can come and work for me any time’ routine while Angela swooned into her mixer. The silver tongued charmer…
Fi had a less satisfying round, which was a shame. She made ginger nuts with orange and mint buttercream filling; millionaire’s shortbread dipped in butterscotch chocolate; and over sized iced gems. I thought her shortbread looked bloody lovely. Mary said it was. Paul wasn’t keen. Mary looked at Paul in that way that promised a whole can of whup ass for the Hollywood later on.
The technical challenge was much more exciting for me. The challenge was to make Paul Hollywood’s sausage rolls, which were encased in a caramelised onion chutney and rough puff pastry.
When Mel said the words; rough puff pastry, there was a collective intake of breath. None of the women had ever made it before, which evened the field out nicely.
Fi just got on with things, looking slightly worried but trooping on regardless in quite a stoic way. Anita panicked. I get the impression she likes to be both prepared and organised, and she clearly wasn’t. She dithered and flapped until she drove herself mad. Then she just got on with it.
Angela reminded me so much of me. She worried as she went along, but at one point she hit her stride and was blithely getting on with things until she said to Mel in passing that it was a lot of pastry for one sausage roll. Mel looked at her blankly, which stopped Angela dead in her tracks. They rushed to consult the sheet only to find that the requirement was for six sausage rolls. Then they had to spend five minutes laughing like loons at the thought of what Paul and Mary would have said faced with the world’s largest sausage roll.
That’s kind of how I cook. But with more swearing. Hence my failure to appear on a television screen near you.
Despite all this, everyone’s rolls came out reasonably well, except for poor Fi, who actually deserved to do well in my opinion because of the fact that she just got on with things bravely without blenching, but no, it just didn’t work out for her at all.
The showstopper challenge was to create an occasion cake with at least two tiers, which had to be fully covered. If I had been doing it, it would have been fully covered with a big cloth, like when you put a parrot to bed. The thought of making a covered, tiered cake fills my heart with horror.
Anita made a three tiered orange cake with butter icing to fill it, chocolate ganache outside and a small cake teacup with a sculpted icing tea pot on the top. Fi made a red velvet, 3 tiered heart shaped cake which was covered in butter cream and then covered in fondant icing with hearts on. Angela made a three tiered lemon drizzle cake with mascarpone and lemon curd icing. It was covered in fondant and icing daisies.
They all looked pretty fabulous although being a huge fan of red velvet I’d definitely have fallen face first into Fi’s for preference. I wouldn’t have turned down a slice of any of them in fairness, had I been offered.
In the end, Anita won the competition, just pipping Angela at the post. I’d have chosen Angela myself, but there really wasn’t very much in it, and secretly I suspect Angela was rather pleased not to have to lug the truly hideous trophy home with her on the bus. It was a replica of the last trophy, the one that looked like a giant light bulb full of eggs and whisks, but with an enormous sport relief sticker whacked on it.
No expense spared.
Which is ironic given that in the end taste and presentation are what the entire competition is about.
And squirrels. I forgot to mention squirrels in the previous blogs, but honestly, since the great squirrel cojone spotting of the last series (and let’s face it, you couldn’t have missed it) there were squirrels frisking in every episode this week. Every time there was a lull in baking frenzy the camera would cut to another bloody squirrel frolicking about like he owned the show.
I wouldn’t mind but I bet squirrels are absolutely crap at baking. They can’t even remember where they put their nuts, let alone how many sausage rolls they should be making. Disastrous.