Hannah Burton gives her view on this year’s Great British Bake Off…
Series five of The Great British Bake Off was set to be the best ever, with a move to BBC1 and a line up of incredible home bakers, and it didn’t disappoint. Amongst the 12 bakers vying for Paul and Mary’s approval were the oldest and youngest contestants of GBBO so far – Diana, aged 69, and Martha, aged 17, who was labelled ‘like a child genius, but not weird’.
This series brought us some top-notch innuendo, and the highs and lows that GBBO always brings, which included Norman introducing us to wildly exotic ingredients like pesto and the ever-so-slightly less popular lavender meringue. We also got to see Mary Berry’s undisguised horror at the thought of shop-bought fondant, and her cracking collection of lovely floral jackets. It wasn’t all so light-hearted though – in week four, Britain was shaken by a scandal that made the Leveson Inquiry seem like petty intrigue. I am, of course, referring to Bingate. Not since Marie Antoinette’s downfall have we seen such ire over baked goods.
After nine weeks, Richard, Luis and Nancy battled for victory with a signature bake of viennoiserie, a technical that went back to basics with Victoria sponges, tartes au citrons and scones, and the epic showstopper: the pièce montée. We were thrilled to see the technical challenge touching on classic bakes, as this year we’ve been a bit frustrated by the more unusual technicals – grilled pancake cake, anyone? One of the best things about watching the Bake Off is the chance to ooh and aah at the baked goodies, and to imagine possibly one day make them for ourselves. The dry-looking, bizarre grilled cake did not inspire me to step away from the Mr Kiplings and get the mixing bowl out.
Watching the showstoppers come to life was the Great British Bake Off at its best – the finalists had to create a pièce montée, featuring sponge, caramel, choux pastry and petit fours. The creations featured red caramel windmills, chocolate-biscuit mining wheels and almond brittle sails – it was all very impressive, but in the end it was Nancy’s Moulin Rouge-inspired showstopper that stole the show and the competition. Richard, who won star baker an unprecedented five times, and Luis proved formidable opponents, but Nancy’s cool head and consistency throughout the series meant that she was awarded the coveted cake stand. Even though at one point she was shown to blow the excess icing sugar from the top of her Victoria sponges. Oh, the horror.
This year the quality of bakers was clearly higher than any other series so far. From week one, the bakes were impressive and inventive and have inspired us at Fed Up & Drunk to get our bake on. Look out for our Macmillan Coffee Morning Bake Off blog, coming soon.