This week on Great British Bake Off we must imagine ourselves, gentle viewers, in a giant, canvas TARDIS, filled with cookery equipment. Paul Hollywood thinks he is the Dr. and that Mary is his glamorous assistant. Little does he know that Mary is the ultimate Time Lord, and she has chosen Mel and Sue as her assistants. Paul, she considers to be less exciting than K9.
So, here we are, swirling backwards through the mists of time, which in this case consists of eighteen camera assistants running up and down the lawn with tubs of icing sugar, chucking it in a wind tunnel with a whopping great sieve plopped on the end.
We arrive in the Victorian era, where everything, absolutely everything is made of aspic or some other sort of meat based gelatinous substance. It is a little known fact that Prince Albert was made entirely from aspic. He did not actually die from typhoid at all. He died because Queen Victoria put him too close to the fire one night. He melted and was licked up by a corgi. It’s why she spent so many years in mourning for him. She couldn’t forgive herself.
Barbaric but true.
Much like Ian in the signature round, who not content with using guinea fowl eggs last week from his own guinea fowl, went one better this week, and killed them and baked them in a game pie. I wonder if it was his way of punishing them for not helping him get star baker back last week?
It was a revelatory week for Ian fans everywhere, for it turns out that not content with killing his own birds, he also likes to eat road kill. He is now known in our house as Road Kill Ian. It makes him sound a lot more dangerous than he looks to be honest. Like Hong Kong Phooey in corduroy, he looks a bit like a mild mannered janitor, but then, if you’re a slightly injured squirrel, out comes the shovel and KAPOW! in a pie you go.
This enthusiasm didn’t help his cause much, even though Mary liked his accompanying jelly made of boiled up pig toes, which made me feel a little bit sick, and also glad that I wasn’t in the tent to smell the aroma of boiling pig feet, which cannot be pleasant. I just think Ian really got too enthusiastic about animal body parts this week, and came across as the sort of person who sticks polaroids of meat on his bedroom wall, interconnecting them with drawing pins and a lot of red string.
The making an enormously elaborate game pie crown went to Tamal this week, who made a thing of such utter loveliness that it made me want to lick the telly a little bit. Although I must give a shout out to the lovely Matt, who had an original Victorian pie tin, which he had borrowed from ‘Dangerous Dave’s mum’. Anyone who has a friend called Dangerous Dave, whose mum is a mine of Victorian pie tins is alright in my book.
The technical round this week was to make another entirely fictional cake. This one was called a Tennis cake. A Tennis cake is actually a fruit cake with a tennis court of marzipan and icing plonked on top of it. Very weird it looked too, a bit like a meat loaf with planning permission for a sport’s hall on top of it. Nicki said she would prefer a curling cake. I said this sounds too much like pooh. I would go for a volleyball cake though, for sure.
Nadiya aced it (ho yes! See what I did there. That’s proper writing that is) in the technical. Her superb sugar craft meant that her tennis court actually looked like a tennis court rather than something slightly apocalyptic, along the lines of the abandoned playground scene with the swings at the beginning of Terminator Two. Matt’s however, would have fitted right in with the entire post apocalyptic landscape thing. His green fondant icing was terrifyingly reminiscent of radioactive ooze, and for some reason he decided to help things along by baking his icing tennis racquets and net. Nadiya’s face when he proudly pulled out the crisped, sugary remains, is one of the finest televisual moments of 2015 so far. The word ‘why?’ was stencilled deep into every pore.
It is a question that continued to plague me on into the show stopper this week, which was to create a Charlotte Russe. A Charlotte Russe is basically a crown of boudoir biscuits (ladies fingers) filled in with jelly and bavarois, and then eaten with both hands voraciously, in the manner of a mole scooping earth, because it is so blinking delicious.
A bavarois, for the uninitiated, is a kind of custard, adulterated with gelatine, that sets rather like a mousse. It should be light and airy and not boing on the palate. Nothing good ever came of the phrase: ‘boing on the palate.’
My why in this round was confined to why Matt decided to bake his boudoir biscuits as boudoir rafts, which were then too unwieldy to bend into a crown shape, and which, when filled with strawberry bavarois and strawberry jelly, basically cracked down the middle as if an earth quake had occurred. It was, sadly, no surprise to anyone when Matt had to leave the tent this week. Even he admitted that the right choice had been made. I just hope Dangerous Dave’s mum doesn’t come round and try to take Paul’s knees out with the sharp edge of her Victorian pie tin in revenge. If she does, I hope Paul’s tetanus shots are up to date.
Special mention to Ian, who, by refraining from making weasel flavoured bavarois, actually redeemed himself and created a Russe of surpassing beauty that everyone liked. Extra special mention to Flora who made champagne jelly, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t be happy with that, or her game plan to get Mary trolleyed enough to love everyone and everything. Extra, extra special mention to Paul not Hollywood, who although his jelly ran like Niagara, created an apple swan the like of which has not been seen on television since about 1976. I want to make a banana giraffe. Nicki is going to make an orange octopus. We decided on balance that grape prawns were too fiddly.
Grapefruit baboon anyone?
Last super special mention goes to the most excellent Tamal, who was so brave and daring he made his Russe with a wobbly, jelly floor and still triumphed. He deserved star baker this week. I had to go and have a lie down and a biscuit on the grounds that I had only just refrained from gnawing through the telly cable in the first round. I was a goner by the time he unveiled the Russe. It was a wobbly wonder of the world.
Next week it’s patisserie, and it looks like eclair pyramids will be on the menu. I am excited by this, but also sad because it is the quarter finals. Why does it go so quickly every year? It melts like Albert in aspic by the fire, and I am the fat corgi who licks it up.
You can watch this week’s episode here.