The Great British Bake Off – And Now, The End is Near…

As you know, it has been a week of woe in the Boo household as we have lurched shambolically from crisis to crisis, awash with drugs, sellotape, petrol fumes and the intoxicating rustle of list after list of failed plans.

To add insult to almost intolerable injury it was also the last week of The Great British Bake Off.

I know that there are going to be three master classes to follow, and a Christmas special, but it isn’t the same.

IT ISN’T.

Acos, as my middle child used to say, acos, it hab not got proper people in it only P Bad Hollywood and Dame Mary of Berry, and love ‘em like we do, it’s still not right is it?

I CAN’T like it. Acos they are baking superheroes, minus the cape, although a tea towel might suffice. As such, they do not make comedy errors, or fill their shoes with icing sugar, or weep over the fact that they cannot fashion a model of Julie Andrews dressed as a nun out of marzipan. Consequently there is no fun. There is no human drama. Acos P Bad is not human, and Mary is, but she has always got to be pulling on the lead of P Bad and his badness, so she cannot save the world properly, and it distracts me from the issues of sugar in the shoes and all that.

WHERE IS THE HEART? EH? EH?

So I are absolutely cross and I are not listening to yew.

Alright?

As it was, I did not get to see the Bake Off final live and on telly.  I was negotiating a migraine in the Park and Ride at Water Eaton outside Oxford and wondering if I would ever, ever get home again.

I tend to get extremely pathetic at times like this, so a migraine will definitely become a brain tumour which will have me stumbling into a ditch just outside Kidlington, and they won’t fish my body out until it has been partially gnawed by a family of desperate shrews.  That sort of thing.

It could so happen.

Because of this tragedy, baking had to wait until last night, where, thanks to the powers of the everlasting migraine I watched it with one eye open and the other resting on an ice pack, floating over the action in a drug induced haze.

Worrying whether I had been followed home from Oxford by a family of desperate shrews, who might, at any moment, leap from the safety of the sofa stuffing and gnaw on my still twitching body.

Would Brendan save me? That is what I needed to know.  After all, the final was ages ago. He could possibly have managed to come to my rescue with his survivalist ways if he heard my faint groans and cries for help, and my quivering shouts of ‘sooouuup!’ as my prone body was ravaged by shrews.

Luckily the shrews were dormant, and I could concentrate on watching the telly with my one good, but beady eye.

It made for interesting, emotional and at times slightly trippy viewing.

I apologise in advance if my final blog post on the subject is not quite the thing. For all I know, I could have been watching something entirely different to everyone else on the planet.  This week’s reportage is more along the lines of interpretive dance, although I urge you not to picture me, or indeed Paul Hollywood, wearing black lycra jumpsuits and performing star jumps.

Tempting though it may be.

For the final weekend of baking, John, James and Brendan had to make a) a French pie called a Pithivier, b) 25 pink fondant fancies in homage to Mr. Kipling and c) a show stopper chiffon celebration cake that summed up 2012 for them.

No biggie.

A Pithivier, for those of you, like me, who are Pithivier novices, is a pie made of two discs of puff pastry with a mound of filling sandwiched between the two.  The Glastonbury Tor of pies, if you will. With less mysticism, and more lamination.

I would say that a Pithivier is a fictional pie, but when I cast doubt upon the world of the fraisier and its cakeiness, I was presented with irrefutable evidence from a trustworthy source, so I say nothing of my deep rooted belief that Mary and Paul make up half of these things over a bottle of gin and a late night in the judging tent.

Nothing.

Although next year, if one of the technical challenges is for a three layer Shazamalar with a hazlenut base I will feel vindicated regarding this piece of speculation.

The Pithivier round went well for everyone except James, who had the traditional Bake Off soggy bottom to contend with.  James, at this point was down but not out.  A soggy bottom is a mere bagatelle in the great baking lark to be honest, even if it is the final.

The fondant fancy round was a killer for everyone.  It has to be said that you do not regard a fondant fancy as an evil cake when you take one out of its Mr. Kipling box, do you? They look reasonably unassuming, quite harmless, cute even. Rather like a small family of desperate shrews, they lurk in ditches looking forlorn and poignant, and then, when you least expect it…they rip your whole face off and eat it.

That is a fondant fancy.

Outside it is all pink and perfect and innocuous. Inside lurks menace and danger.

John’s were too small. His grasp of maths is about on a par with mine I feel, as I sympathised with him wrestling with a ruler and long division and a small stub of pencil stuck behind his ear.  Teeth sucking was heard until a final, silent “Oh, fuck it’, and a lot of haphazard chopping went on.

Brendan was flummoxed by the getting of the fondant onto the squares of cake. It was all far too messy for him, and it is the first time we’ve seen him really flustered.  He looked like he wanted to throw his hands up in disgust, but he bravely soldiered on, trying to find new and improved ways of covering the cake in sticky, pink, soup.  A fire hose fashioned out of ferns was probably the answer, but there simply wasn’t enough time to hack off into the woods with a spatula and find any raw materials.

James good-naturedly flung fondant hither and yon with the best of them, but to no avail.

The fondant fancies triumphed where lesser cakes failed, and ensured this was the worst technical challenge of the whole series ever.

This shock news meant that with the final, chiffon cake, everything was to play for, and they went all out to create works of chiffon genius.

A chiffon cake is a kind of sponge which is basically made of air and fluff and snow and angel’s eyebrows.  If you look at it wrong, it dies. If you breathe on it, it dies.  It is temperamental to the point of angry toddlerhood.  Making anything at all with chiffon cake, apart from small, soggy cratered landscapes, seems very challenging indeed.

I’d have gone for a moon themed cake to incorporate my total failure to be able to make things like this successfully, but the men rose to the challenge with varying levels of triumph.

Poor James though, did bite off a bit more than he could chew.  I have always admired his penchant for empire building in cake terms.  Why make a seven inch sandwich cake when you can reconstruct the Albert Hall using Genoese sponge, tooth picks and butter icing? That kind of thing.

Usually he pulls this off at the last moment with varying degrees of shock and awe. This time he didn’t.  Five cakes which were supposed to represent the United Kingdom did not come together as a triumphant whole, as planned. Rather they remained five, rather dry cakes sitting on a board so enormous that as he carried it to the judging table it bent under the weight of cake.

Poor James.

Brendan did a splendid thing with almond and raspberry which was all about family reunion and made me wonder if I might have a little dust in my good eye as I listened to him talk about it.

And which made me salivate because it had lots of raspberry in it.  And I love raspberries more than my children.

It was John though, who was ultimately triumphant in this test, and in fact over all, as he created a chocolate chiffon cake with lemon and coconut baby cakes which represented heaven and hell, and which moved Mary to ‘mmmfffs’ of delight, and Paul to eyebrows of appreciation.

And I was sad that James and especially Brendan had lost, and I was happy that John had won, and I cried because I was feeling very fragile, and it was all very emotional, and it wasn’t really about baking in the end was it?  And I cried because it was the last one, and now I will have to sit about twiddling my thumbs for twelve months and wondering what fictional baked goods Mary and Paul will come up with in the meantime.

And really, is there any point now in renewing my television licence until next August?

Because it is all over now, and the bakers have invaded the pitch, and all that is left in our lounge is a small puddle of icing sugar and the sound of shrews burping.

Fin.

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5 responses to “The Great British Bake Off – And Now, The End is Near…

  1. Exactly.
    Feel better.

  2. Thankyou for your insightful account.hope your heads improving.i didn’t get to c it in the end but loved that I feel like I have

  3. i am so sorry for your woefulness, katy… damn and blast all migraines anyway. however, i am in awe of your determination to carry on and bring us the best reportage of a cake event ever. i don’t watch BBBO, i doubt if i would even if i could get it on my TV here in the states… bu i will never not read your summation. absolutely the best. feel better, my lamb…

  4. oh you poor soul. I had one day of a pressure induced migraine last weekend but one and felt disustingly fragile and awful so you have all the sympathy I have left over from myself, because I broke my ankle on Saturday.
    The pithivier though I know is genuine and not made up by Mary and Paul Bad because I have an M & S recipe book from the mid-80s which includes a ‘gateau pithivier’. This does not mean of course that they will NOT steal your wonderful sounding ‘shazamalar’ for next year.
    I hope you feel better soon.

  5. Thank you lovely people. My holiday has worked wonders, and apart from a few hiccups we have had a splendid time and it has been so very relaxing. It has been perfect. x

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