From top: The Great British Bake-Off returned last night on C4; Vanessa Foran
For the truly engaged Great British Bake-off viewer and fan, last night’s Fruit Cake was a great challange as we all have one or two recipes that we will never depart from, but it was also a very unfair one.
Fruit Cake is instantly recognised as a dried fruit bake, just like Meringue is egg whites, so it must be said that two and half hours is no time for a proper fruit cake, nor is three and a half.
This probably explains why some of them were decorated loafs, not cakes. Just saying, because Mary Berry would have said so too.
Either way the odds were against them getting this as good as they get it at home, so it made good sense that many used ring moulds or loaf tins in the reduced baking time.
I have a plain ring mould myself but if I see the fancy Bundt one on special offer somewhere I might go for it, because Phil’s recipe . definitely appealed to me, shur look at how easy it was to decorate and make fancy.
However, I would twerk it somewhat, remove the marzipan for a start, and probably mix Kahlua with the rum.
You can’t not make a good fruit cake, it’s like ironing, even if there are still a few creases on the sleeve, the shirt is still wearable.
But before any novice or first time baker considers Phil’s, or any other fruit cake, be it a simple everyday brack or the proper one-stone Christmas Cake, there are two things that will always feature with this type of bake.
Firstly, there are loads of ingredients, and prepping them, and assembling them may put you off, but do push through. Because (and secondly) the smell in your kitchen and your home will reward you for days afterwards.
One tip, you will see in Phil’s recipe, how to make Pumpkin Spice on its own, this is the sort of thing I might make a batch of and keep in the baking press.
Oh, a third thing to remember about proper Fruit Cake bakes; they last ages. I still have some of Nigella’s Christmas Cake here still a tin. It will be three this Christmas. (It was too expensive a bake to throw out!)
So, to the Technical; I wouldn’t buy an angel slice, and I wouldn’t eat one if offered so I’m never going to bake one.
However, possible spoiler alert; the teenager is at me to attempt the technicals as a special side order type of thing. I’m not so sure but if anyone wants to give it a lash Prue’s recipe can be followed, but it is correctly classified as Challenging.
I love the Showstoppers usually, and in one-way last night’s was fun. But these big themed ornate cakes are not anything I do myself, although I do have the kits and the books and reasonable facilities. The thing really is that I don’t really like thick icing or edible fondant creations or marzipan anything. Nor do I have the imagination.
If there was anything in the challenge last night is that some potential Star Bakers started to make themselves known more obviously than in the Signature or the Technical did.
Same for Henry, I actually sniggered when his house fell apart. While he’s one of the youngest (20) this year, he’s actually the oldest one in the tent. I just know he’s got a soggy bottom ahead of him.
I’m loving Steph and think she’s one to watch. She has self-depreciating yet everyday personality that I always find myself familiar with, so I hope she gets a good run at it, even just for the telly appeal.
As some of the others are all a bit too perfect and make being organised look so normal – like their life is a recipe that they are just following themselves.
But Dan had to go. While I do think it had an unfair time allocation last night, there is no excuse for getting your Signature so badly wrong.
It’s a promising start, we’ll know way way more about our bakers after bread, so still too early to call. Which might explain the number of Hollywood Handshakes (HHs) being nil. But there is a risk we might have already reached peak innuendo; Furry Garden will be hard bate in fairness.
Next up, Biscuit week: while I may be a day or so late with the post-mortem, let me leave this with ye; Are you ready to crumble?
Pic: Channel 4