From top: Noel Fielding (left) and Matt Lucas, of The Great British Bake-Off, ‘Cork Battenburg’; Vanessa Foran
Within the last few words of Bake’Sheet Season 10, I said Bake Off could do with a bit of a shake up, but I can’t deny there was some phewing relief when they got it going this year and that it was so familiar to me; like an old friend broke through restrictions and gave me a hug. A new location and a new presenter, yet I haven’t actually felt the loss Sandi.
Which I feel bad about, I don’t think Bake Off followers, fans or just stuck under the thumb of the remote controller watchers ever saw the best out of her. A tis what it is.
But t’was a blast from the past that made me want to put this oddball re-meander together.
You may not know this but some of my favourite Bake Offs, since this kicked off here, back then, when t’was just Frilly and all of ye, were actually shows I didn’t write up.
One of those was the Festive special just gone with The Derry Girls. Here, treat yourselves.
Meanwhile; Sister Michael, and it must be said, and not just ‘cause the girl’s from Cork, Siobhán McSweeney’s Sister Michael boots from her own half that Father Jack off into the scruffy mound of old seat cushions that do’be corned in the suite of feckie religious cranks from the telly.
There I said it and have a Hon de Mná with it as well.
Damn right there is no denying Siobhan McSweeney’s roots when she introduced the Cork Battenburg to the Tent.
When Siobhan was describing her showstopper to the Judges I knew exactly what they were going to get. And I was already sniggering and kinda gagging, but kinda whistful and weepy when the Hollywood was giving her his piercing blue stink eye, while Prue was the dotie dottie domestic science teacher she assumes when she’s around celebrities and non(ish) bakers. Coorke Battenburg well….
To clarify, to us tis Battenburg, just Battenburg, and the only Battenburg bhoy; and it was what our Mam’s and their Mam’s before them got in when something a bit better than a swiss roll was called for. The early evening visit from the School Head or the Parish Priest stuff.
So you know the occasion, and naturally it’s the one that arises with eff all notice to put together some decent ham for sandwiches, a flan and some tea brack.
The Cork Battenburg was a pyramid shaped log, shaped by brown and yellow heavy dense sponge layers, with a miserable thin white spread running between. A Thompson’s Bakery confection (since that Bakery is no longer with us, a better more accurate provenance would be welcomed btw.)
I have no honest idea what the flavours actually were ‘cause they all tasted the same.
The lot was then slabbed, and I mean slabbed in gawkish cheap cooking chocolate, that was raked front to back top to bottom with a fork. If it helps at all – picture a Toblerone in cake formation.
The Cork Battenburg could cap a roofing truss.
But what the Cork Battenburg’s arrival into the Bake Off tent also promised me, was that I knew we’d get see to everyone else’s Battenburg some day in the tent, and there it was – the very first challenge of the Covid Bubble Tent Bake Off.
Long windy intro, I know, but it was a flash back, even the smell of the crap chocolate type exterior came back to me so I couldn’t refuse it.
Then came 80’s week, and it all got me thinking, or as Frilly would have said back in the first Season of Bake’Sheet; tinking
Throughout this entire series here on Broadsheet, I have stuck loyally to the principle that Home Baking is a spectrum of its own, everyone is on it somewhere, from the disasters to the Bake Off winners enclosures. From those that burn the shop bought Apple Tart that only needed a bitta warming to the five tier Showstoppers with sugar work, tempered chocolate and home made fondant figurines.
Not even a Pandemic could this Season flop.
And I’m loving it so far, but not for the Bakers, my favourite two to watch are gone anyway (Lottie the Panto Producer and Rowan the Panto Queen.) Although I’m going to lay heavy on Hermine for the outright win. BTW Lottie was robbed.
I’m loving it for the challenges.
This year they really have made it about everyday home baking. The resurgence in home baking that lockdown activated; although I question the wisdom of sourdough bread being the first adventure with flour and an oven. Homemade proper bakes is the one ongoing theme of Bake Off’s eleventh season.
This time last year no-one would have ventured a bread week featuring Soda Bread? Or Brownies, or Quiches – the rightly honourable baked beans have even made it into the tent. All deserving and not a bit out of place.
And that’s what’s triggered me out of my retreat from Bake’Sheet.
So many of this year’s challenges are all about the Home Baker. The everyday Baker. The Budget Baker. The Bedsit Baker to the all Mod Cons plus latest gadget room for a pony Baker.
There was even a Technical that was just pancakes, albeit Hipster flavoured crepes if you don’t mind stacked between a filling you can put together while sitting in traffic.
It might suggest the influence of their sponsors this year, Aldi. But I don’t care, this year’s season is less showstopper and technical, and all about the basic mainstream of bakes, the bakes that 99.99% of bakers all turn to.
So this is where I am reaching out to all of ye, there is no point in me putting together recipes and hints and mince. Let’s have a tent of ye.
Broadsheet Things that look like …. Soda Bread, Brownies, Quiche, Loaf Cake, posh Visitor Cake, Occasion Cake, Baking with Mammy Daddy Blended Family Cake, Tray Bakes and Biscuits. Trifles, Tarts and stuff you can do with Baked Beans.
I’ll start by tidying up Soda Bread with Notions, a Beat Back Covid with Turmeric bikkies and a Flexi Cookie Pastry ye’ll love so much ye’ll hate me for.
Before I go, if I still have ye like, just to say I’m glad to see more balance now between Matt and Noel in the presenting, general chit chat and continuity bits and pieces. And Covid wouldn’t stop the Hollywood Handshake.
One whinge and that’s that the Producers this year are a bit mean with the recipes they are making available, but one they did release might be worth a Bank Holiday effort, Peter’s Blackberry & Lemon Tart. Now don’t be put off by the skill level its set at, that’s only the bitta sugar work they stuck in to impress The Hollywood. And if you’re like me you’ll recognise that as the faff stuff that can be left out.
And its called Jelly Art btw, give it a lash here for a fiver – Shop bought Jelly – shur don’t we all………….
And if you’re not wobbling about Jelly, and can split the faff from the full recipe; go for Lottie’s finest moment. No doubt Wobble Cakes will be a challenge in a future Series anyway, so no harm to get ready to judge them like the all the rest of us armchair amateurs.
You all know how and where to get involved in Broadsheet Bakes that look like (working title)
so lets have ye.
Recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org marked ‘Recipe’.
Pic: Channel 4