As the Great British Bake Off returns, our Louise shares a review of the first episode of this new look programme favourite.
**SPOILERS ALERT **
I watched the first episode of my favourite BBC programme with a serious sense of nervousness as Channel 4 took the reins last night… I wanted to hate it, groans of “it’s not the same”, ready on my lips…
However, I was genuinely relieved to see not a lot had changed, despite the new presenters and judges at the helm. The innuendoes were ever-present, the contestants seemed familiar yet new, and the baking standard was impressive to say the least (from most!). For some reason I’d expected a new theme at the opening credits, but I reminded myself it was still the same show, just refreshed. Even the gingham alter still had a part, hooray!
Here are my thoughts – what do you think?
Judges & Presenters – the new line up
I wasn’t expecting a lot from the show, and in particular, the new judges, to be honest. And as you can imagine, Twitter was rife with people mourning the loss of Mel and Sue. One viewer said: "Mel and Sue were like the fun aunties that make family gatherings more entertaining, I miss them so much #gbbo". Someone else wrote: "1 minute in and I feel like I'm cheating on Mary, Mel and Sue. #GBBO2017". I hope the three of them were watching the first of the new shows together, with lots of gin and sponge cake!
I don’t like either Noel Fielding or Sandy Toksvig from previous things they’ve done, but they didn’t repel me half as much as I’d imagine they would. Prue, I’m not convinced about. Some of her comments were a bit, well, “duhh…” I mean, she’s never heard of a cake with no fat or eggs in it? Hello, she’s obviously never tried our vegan cakes! A cookery writer and restaurateur, but with bread-bonkers Paul and two presenters who don’t have anything foodie about them (Noel has refused to eat any cake this series, for goodness sake!), surely we needed a cakey bod as the second judge. She has yet to impress me, but some have hope she’ll reinvent Bake Off… Saying that, I did like the little nods to the history of the show Noel and Sandy did. It brought a bit of cosy nostalgia to the show – hope it continues.
There’s a classic line up of someone who looks like they were put in to have an easy choice for the first loser, a homosexual, a baker with international heritage, an older ‘experienced’ lady, ethnic minority representation and a young one who looks like he’ll win hearts (Liam). I’ve yet to see anyone in a wheelchair… maybe next year.
I don’t think Stacey will last long, personally, having failed in the Showstopper with her cakey handbag, and binned a previous bake, and Yan won’t go far, having forgotten to turn on the oven in last night’s episode… My personal tips for the top, based on a whole three bakes so far, are the two Scousers (Flo – the oldest ever contestant at 71 years old – and Kate), Steven (rightful Star Baker for episode one) and Sophie. These guys have discipline and skill, but in my heart, I have to support the Bristol rep – Go Chris!
My initial reaction to my favourite of the three challenges, the Signature Bake, was “Two whole hours to make a fruity cake?!” Easy peasy, you’d think, but I like to think this is the challenge I’d rise to best of the three. However, some of the contestants clearly needed the time, binning their first efforts.
Julia (from West Sussex, born in Siberia) made a delicious looking Courgette and Lemon Sponge – I’d love that recipe, if she’s reading!! I didn’t catch who made the Bundt, but I thought that was brave, for the first cake. They are enormous and not the easiest to judge when properly cooked. And those who plumped for a sandwich sponge – good call, quick to bake!
The Technical Challenge was one I actually think I could, and will do; this is normally where I’d come unstuck on the show, not knowing what the finished article is supposed to look like or how any specialist ingredients may behave. It reminded me I have a Swiss Roll tin I’ve yet to use, so watch this space!
I did wonder, during the Technical, why it was dark outside? Normally the show is filmed on Saturday and Sundays through the day…
Finally, the Showstopper. The contestants were set the challenge of creating an ‘illusion cake’ – one that didn’t in fact look like a cake at all, and some awesome ideas came forth. Considering it was the ‘toughest first Showstopper’ of a series ever, the bakers didn’t disappoint. I was impressed by the detail on Yan’s ‘Banana-Ramen’, despite my feeling she won’t last many weeks in the tent, wowed by Flo’s watermelon triumph, and double wowed by Steven’s BLT. AMAZING. Prue said exactly what I said (to myself, lonely in my living room – El Husbandio is NOT interested in that show!)… The taste buds would be fooled by what the eye could see. I don’t think I’d like to try the pork pie cake for that reason – ick, too confusing for my veggie pallete! – but Liam’s pancakes were perfect. They’d fool anyone!
Being able to skip the ad breaks is GOLD.
Favourite Quote: When Paul called someone’s chocolate rolls “Chunky Monkeys”.
In the end, the right person was crowned Star Baker and the right person had their oven gloves removed.
The show is said to have given Channel 4 its highest audience since the Paralympic opening ceremony in 2012. Well played, Channel 4, well played, but you still have a way to the 8 million GBBO viewer record set by the Beeb.
I look forward to Biscuit Week next week – I’m sure I’ll be as addicted as every other year by then!
Owner, 280 Bakes
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