It’s week six of the GNFBBO - The Great Noel Fielding’s British Bake Off.
Newly-titled to reflect Noel’s increasingly mesmerising performances, he really is the star of the show. I realise it’s the bakers who we are supposed to be attached to, but it’s Noel who is stealing all the glory. He even referenced Old Gregg this week: a collective exhalation of joy was heard from Mighty Boosh fans nationwide.
Pastry was the theme of the day: you’ve got to roll with it or you’ll end up in hot water (paste) and be chouxed off the show. These puns are on a knead-to-know basis - no half-baked reviews here, there’s no loafing about when it comes to my thoughts on Bake Off (I’ll stop now).
This week’s challenge was samosas. Most of the bakers seemed to have been inspired by their mother’s recipe. I feel slightly cheated, my Mum doesn’t even know what a samosa is. Her Eccles cakes however, are the best.
Rahul and Ruby shone, both receiving ‘the handshake’. Even Paul is beginning to refer to his own hand in the third person. He’s definitely losing the plot in this series, and this becomes more apparent as the week progresses. Dan thought he’d save time by using a pasta roller. It didn’t really work out. By the time he had thrown his first batch away and started again, he just had enough time to mess it up, again. A bad start to the day. It could only get better, or so he thought.
This week’s “cake that no one has ever heard of” was the Puit d’amour, or well of love. So named because the combination of puff, choux, crème patisserie and strawberry compote supposedly has erotic connotations. Any lust in the room was soon dampened at the sight of Jon swigging half a dozen egg whites from a measuring jug. Down in one - my dinner almost came up in two. If truth be told, I don’t think there’s anything that Jon will ever make that I’d fancy eating. At a push I’d let him make me a cup of tea. Maybe.
Ruby came last, Rahul a very fortunate third and Bryony came first. Dan’s day did get worse. At least he had the next day to make amends.
So we came to the showstopper, with contestants given free rein to produce a Tudor pie fit for a banquet. I’m of the belief that anything in a pie tastes great: that belief was well and truly shattered this week.
A Tudor pie should contain blackbirds, peacocks, bitterns or thrushes. We got the full gamut of octopi, mermaids, dragons and some sort of silver fish. Ok they weren’t in the pies, but were rather pastry representations of these creatures. Who else but Kim-Joy would think of Silke the vegetarian mermaid, let alone make her in pie form? (I had squirrel pie once, made for me by the very same chef who is making a sold-out guest appearance at The Assembly House on Thursday night. Karl Goward was head chef at the famed St John Bread and Wine, where his squirrel pie was a best seller).
Jon (did he tell you he was Welsh?) made a dragon pie that was incredibly scary, the most frightening thing of all being that the judges had to eat it. Teachers’ pet Rahul made one of the worst things we’ve seen on the programme so far, a hideous mess of a fluorescent butterfly that Paul said was exquisite. He also said Dan’s damp squib of a soggy silver-sprayed fish “looked great”. Is he seeing what I’m seeing? Methinks he should borrow Prue’s specs.
Briony was triumphant, by virtue of being the only contestant to truly produce a showstopper, an incredible Alice in Wonderland tribute, complete with a bottle of booze for Prue, all made in the same time frame as Desperate Dan made his floppy fish cake. She had a superlative week and was made star baker. Before the episode started, I’d tipped her to go home but in fact it was hot favourite Dan who ate humble pie at the bottom of the pastry pile - I didn’t see that coming. Then again, should you really trust a man who eats squirrel pie?
* Squirrel pie will be the least of anyone’s concern next week when the bakers will face VEGAN WEEK. The offical synopsis for the episode reads: “Judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood have set three very different challenges to test the remaining bakers - a savoury pastry Signature, with no butter involved, a Technical with a very unusual ingredient and a spectacular Showstopper that in the heat of the tent threatens to lead to catastrophe. Who will keep their cool and win star baker? And who will be meeting their end?”