Tag Archives: The Great British Bake Off

From top: smug David impressed in the Technical on last night’s Great British Bake-Off on Channel 4 but came second; Vanessa Foran

I don’t know if I’ve said this here before, but I wouldn’t be a veggie cake person.

Ok if you were to put a bit of carrot cake in front of me, I’d be polite.  But I wouldn’t make one, clearly that’s the fault of my own palette, and as recently as last weekend there I came across a recipe from Haiti, Sweet Potato Loaf that includes three spotty bananas and maple syrup in the line-out of ingredients; sincere apologies to the Caribbean bakers – but lads that makes no sense to me, it like asking me to stir washing power into my mash.

If I’m being parochial and closed minded here, yeah, I’ll wear that hat. But for now I’m here only to talk about cake.

And we are talking about High End Grand Patisserie so I’ll not be making apologies for stating that David and his beetroot and parsnips and his smug yoga grin should have been sent home.

He might as well have made soup out of his ingredients, and that’s just not playing by the rules of Patisserie Week.

But it’s not his fault nor the Judges’ that I didn’t rate last night’s semi-final since the show for me the moment it dingled into its theme tune was a bit dysfunctional; I’m those ties scratched my nerves as they walked across the green into the tent.

This homage carry-on has become a thing now, and I don’t like it.  Let the viewers follow up with the baker who was sent home, give them a follow, buy their book and leave it at that.

The silliness of it can be grasped easily by any on-looker from the intensity of each bake last night; even from a crumb of sweat you could sense every one of those four semi-finalists was ravenous for the nod, the handshake, the Star Baker, The Win.

None of them were genuinely sad to see Henry the Tie man go. So, stop with the wish he was here’ing. It’s dog eat dog in that tent, so stop letting on it isn’t, its unfair to the great bakers that have come and gone, cried and celebrated there over the last ten years, and its unfair to us the viewer. Ok, rant over.

One thing about the real business of the Bake-Off Semi Final that I want to make sure I mentioned today, was the Signature.  They made it look stressful, fecky and out of reach for the average baker, but they barely had an hour and a half, whereas we’ve got all day and over night in our own kitchens.

Sablee pastry isn’t as fancy as it sounds on the telly nor in Rosie’s recipe; its basically a sweet desert pastry for tartlets so start there.

I think a dome finish can be achieved by any baker’s skill level, and I wouldn’t dream of loading one with the range of combinations Rosie had in hers; mint and raspberry, yuzu, lemon and white chocolate.  But then I’m not putting it in front of the Hollywood, nor am I in their shoes.

Yet Steph has proved time and time again that less is more in the Signatures, (like last week’s onions) and I’m going mad her recipe hasn’t been made available.  But I’m sure we can figure it out.

Start with the tartlet, and here one I made earlier, and off we go with jam, lemon curd mousse maybe, and a bitta’ glaze.  In fairness to our Star Baker last night, Alice’s Chocolate Orange dome tarts are definitely worth a crack.

You might have some interest in the Technical yourselves, but it was of no use last night for Rosie who won but still ends up with Joe Brand on Friday nights Slice.

I tried to enjoy the Showstopper which to be fair ended in a spectacular display when they went before the Judges , and I appreciated learning something new that could be easily attempted at home with the sugar glass; but Alice’s labour pain face was too much – especially when she stood in front of Paul and Pru, it made Cake look painful. 

Actually, I’m already cringing about the Final; but as some of us know about labour pain it’s all easily forgotten.

So our Finalists, Steph Blackwell, Alice Fevronia and the veg meh, David Atherton combine to compete in the youngest (average) age Bake Off Final in its ten years.

I’m going to break with Bake’Sheet tradition here, as it’s my second last one anyway, and infuse a few spoilers because I think ye might want to have a pen and paper ready next week.

Signature will be a Chocolate Cake, and the Technical is a Souffle so expect there to be different starting times and one by one Judging, so nerves in the tent will be like dried seaweed and cracking to the touch.

The Showstopper is a Bake Off favourite, an Illusion Cake, but without any tricks, it must created from three elements only; Cake, Biscuits and Bread.  So while Alice was biscuit week Star Baker she’ll miss using her brightly coloured slash glass for dazzle, and this might prove true, David meh; I don’t care.

I’d like to say good luck to all in the final, but actually I mean, good luck to us the watchers; I’ll not cope with Alice’s crampy labour pain face, or  David’s smirky smuggy vegan grins.

Feck em Steph!  Prove me right girl!

Pic: Channel 4



Steph (top) who was Star Baker on last night’s Great British Bake-Off on Channel 4, watched and reviewed by Vanessa Foran (above)

Heatwave week in the tent; and I can honestly say I was sweating with them.  I nearly had the teenager get me a wet tea towel just so I could join in with the bakers.

An unusual look back this week – well unusual to the format ye might have come to expect here on the Bake’Sheet, and in two respects; one the Technical, I thought it was brilliant, whereas I’m normally meh and I’ll leave it up to yourselves about it.

I never heard of the Warka /Brick pastry before, I thought until I started putting this together earlier that it was the Hollywood’s gentle scouser accent for Water pastry.

Before I go on, let me record a bias with ye; I actually do have an personal interest here because I use Filo pastry a fair bit, Frilly’s Chicken Pie is all about it in fact.

As ye well know I follow the word of Mary Berry like a die-hard true believer – I buy my Filo, but you know what? I’ve every intention of giving this a go.

OK, so we saw they had some specialist kit, but both items, the flat pan and the broad flat pastry brush are easily improvised from what we have in the press anyway; most of us that would be glazers probably have a collection of pastry brushes, and shur who doesn’t have some from of pizza tray?

A word of advice about last night’s Moroccan Chicken pie, Paul Hollywood’s recipes must be followed to the exact mill, degree and second, don’t even think about deviating. But I found loads of stuff on YouTube plugging Warka pastry How-To’s that will take you through it so you won’t be alone.

The other element that wouldn’t be the norm for me, was who went home.  I wasn’t predisposed to picking out any of the three on that step; Rosie , Alice or Henry the Tie man, whereas I’d normally be more inclined somewhere.

In many ways a case was there for any of the three, and with what has been broadcast so far, Rosie could be considered likely as she is the only one without a Star baker notch, and yet I could never deny that she is as good as any other Baker to reach a Bake Off Semi final.

I didn’t have high hopes for Henry at the start of the season, but he was a great contestant, and full of personality. Last night, even in the heat he didn’t wilt, or fail to be a great addition to the Bake Off alumni.

Nonetheless lads, Henry is leaving with both a Hollywood handshake and a Star Baker, so in keeping with the programming technical conditions applied last week, he is currently second runner up GBBO Season 10.

So what harm to him, besides, I’d say he’s going to be great craic on Friday night’s Extra Slice.

I only land on it occasionally, and the part I like the most are the its meant to be a insert etc cake and they ended up with this.  But I will be setting the box for this one.  I think a star has been born.

Hon’ the Steph, and wasn’t she there in it again from the Signature. You know what she does so well? She gets the most out of an ingredient.  Like last night, she wrung out those shallots for everything they had to offer in her Tarte Tatin.

The girl has a flair for pastry, its so naturally inherent that she doesn’t even recognise it.  I don’t for a moment consider her self doubts about her prospects for Pastry week as a blaggard to lower expectations.  She’s just naturally gifted, and shur didn’t we see evidence of this hidden talent back twenties week.

This is a good time to chip in a bit about Tarte Tatin, at home here, it’s a use up stuff before it goes off bake, and there’s no work in it.  But I never considered a savoury version.

So this is another plug for a bake that any level home baker can accomplish.  Buy your puff, and onions which are always included in your shop anyway, come fully loaded with sugar and will naturally caramelise.  I’ve done Onion Tarts before but not in a Tatin formation. I will now tho’

Having dumbed down the Tarte Tatin there, let me strut now for a bit; from the intro to the Judges and the fancy drawings, I already had my fingers crossed that Henry’s Crab and Spud recipe would be put up; and it’s our lucky day.

Especially as only two recipes were given away to us this week, the technical is a formality and lucky us, goodbye Henry’s; which I suspect will be hacked by many, and not just the home bakers, but chefs and bakeries up and down this Country will be having it too. 

I’m not going to bother pestering ye with commentary about last nights Showstopper, only to say that we’ve seen stacked pies before, and S8 finalist Kate’s recipe for Potato Curry Pie deserves to be plugged again.

David has finally broke his streak with a win at the technical, and yeah, he is an alright semi finalist; but I’ve been with Steph all the way from Cake Week, so it would probably break my heart for it to end.

It looks like a Patisserie Semi Final, and do you know what?

I expect Steph and Rosie to progress while David and Alice rattle those stools with their squeaky bums.

So same time same place; ’till then Bake!

Pic: Channel4

 Steph (centre) won Star Baker for the third time last night with her’choff-ee’ lava bombe (top) on Channel 4’s Great British Bake-Off, watched by Vanessa Foran (above)

I could easily have been in that tent last night with the running commentary that was going on; Ah Priya that looks like a faded Wexford Jersey …. too many nuts Steph

You’ll already recognise why I’m singling out those two. It was absolutely Priya’s turn to go no matter what she got up to last night.

In fairness we’ve all had good days and bad bakes, yet each sending off to the Extra Slice this year has kept in sync with their rankings; well with my 1-13 anyway.

Even if the Handshakes aren’t.  Jesus Christ give her a handshake ya bollix. 

Would you have preferred a Hollywood handshake or your third Star Baker?  Well if it’s of any use to you, I couldn’t tell you what I’d pick either, but I do think the Hollywood was being a prick about it last night; and he has only given out two over 18 by x no. of bakers so far.

Even if her Signature Eton Mess Meringue Cake had already placed her in the running for Star Baker, Steph was definitely short changed by the Hollywood for her showstopper Bombe just as much as she was last week with her Sour Lime Cocktail Cake.

And now, since we’re entering the business end of this season in the tent, a quick bit of Star Baker revision wouldn’t do any harm.

The Three-in-Row Star Baker was previously achieved, in season five, the Ice Cream – Freezer gate one, Richard got five in total, and his last three were consecutive.

An important note to add about this little Bakeoff’ricity is that he didn’t win the final.  Nancy did. Who oddly enough, only got one Star Baker, week one – Cake week, which is exactly where Alice is.

So, Steph keep it to together girl.

Speaking of keeping it together, Michael was definitely in better shape last night. So I’m still singling out Steph and Michael for the final, and maybe Alice – based on previous like

A quick word about last night’s Signature It’s great to see every day bakes being featured; especially ones that can be adapted, tarted up or dressed down, no matter what the occasion or what’s in the press.

Meringue is every baker’s best shout when caught short; the only problem with Meringue is that it’s fussy about who it works best with.

So David and his Cloves should have a clatter from Paul.

Actually you could tell desserts weren’t his thing anyway, and you know, I’d say he was already planning his work out to shift those Meringue Cake calories –

And that makes him a Fake Baker in my book; send him home next Paul.  I don’t care if he’s got a handshake.

You can’t call yourself an amateur home baker and get to this level without being one of us; it’s all about desserts and the treats, and the sugery chocolately creamy stuff, and always, always worth the calories.

A quick note specifically to the still-not-convinced about home baking and the Bake’Sheet monologues; Meringue is just two ingredients; egg white and sugar; in a 1:2 ratio, that you bate until white glossy and lickable (although I wouldn’t.) And par for the baking bit, 120° for 120 minutes.

The oven is never too hot for smallies, and you can stuff it, paste it, fill it, or crumble it with anything you like.

Speaking of crumbling – Eton Mess is my new name for Brexit.

Onto the technical.  Ah so what; posh fancy pants trifle.  But Prue’s receipe does break down into nice elements, like that Streusel is something you might want to keep for that whenever occasion we keep promising ourselves with.

The Bombe Showstopper has been dabbled with before in the tent, and like the Signature, this can be dolled up or down, depending on the occasion or your mood.  Skill level or ingredients don’t really control the effort or the outcome.

All in all, it was a good week in the tent because all the challenges can be attempted by all and any level of home baker; and better again, no kit is really really needed beyond a bowl, a mixer, a tray and an oven.

Unfortunately there isn’t much to offer this week by way of recipes; but given the challenges – Meringue, Trifle and a cold Dessert Bombe, I don’t think it would stop anyone from giving a Meringue Cake a lash while Lorenzo passes over.

Next week is another original; Festivals, so I suppose anything can happen inside a tent at a festival.

So ‘till then; BAKE!

Pic: Channel 4

From top: High tea with the Great British Bake-Off presenters, from left: Prue Leith, Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, and Paul Hollywood; Vanessa Foran

Last night.

Great British Bake-Off viewers were transported back to the roaring 1920s in the fifth episode of the Channel 4 series.

Vanessa Foran writes:

I loved the theme especially the idea of a Cocktail Cake, but to the veteran Bake Offender and Hollywood watchers the ending was predictable from early on; the Hollywood’s facial expressions pretty much gave the game away anyway.

But the brilliance of Bake- Off is that sometimes even knowing the ending doesn’t matter, and it certainly didn’t ruin Roaring Twenties’ night for me.

Like last week I’m opening with the ending.

The moment Helena said lavender I could feel the Hollywood’s eye roll so didn’t really need his this isn’t going to end well smirk as he moved on to know how he really felt.

Serious contenders for this competition would know by now Paul Hollywood has no grá for lavender.  (He’d be right at home in my house; I can’t stand it either.  It smells nice in the garden tho’.)

The only thing that could save Helena after that was a showstopper to make him forget she put soapy custard in front of him the day before.

Now I have stood by Helena up to now, but in the end she just took the Halloween shtick too far.  By last night it was silly, sloppy and childish.

But worse again, she ignored the task and snubbed the theme of the week, so she had to go.

Over the years of this series people, and especially rejected bakers, read too much into the Technical, but they only count when it’s a close call; I suppose you could call them the photo finish of the Bake-Off Tent.

And last night’s, ah here Technical, Prue’s fried choux balls pretty much had the batens’ of everyone, so I knew it would be the double elimination show.

I know choux makes a fool out me all the time.  But in all fairness, how could a sauce with three ingredients – one of them liquor get so badly mangled.

I am not surprised to see Michelle go either since all parts of her weekend were Depression-era stuff.

Steph’s has been my champion since week one, and when I saw that razor thin pastry last night I knew she was on the Star Baker short list again.

Even though it was David who got the Handshake last night; I’m still not convinced but I do like his recipe and they were Flappertastic looking; too good looking to eat maybe.

So that’s two HH’s and we’re halfway through so they must mean something and I’ll never question or doubt Paul Hollywood.

All through the show Michael looked in need of an assistance animal or something to relieve his anxiety.  Star Baker in Bread week and the first Handshake of the season ffs, he needs to get a grip on himself now if he’s to do himself any justice.

His baking is definitely final level stuff.  And last night, now I tried to get video it from the telly but I made a mickey of it, but when he introduced his signature Lime and Mango tarts the Hollywood was visibly smacking his lips.

See Helena, Michael did his homework, Lime is one of the Hollywood’s favourites.

And so did Steph – I am totally drooling over her Lime sponge Showstopper and totally deserved a Handshake.

Her recipe says it needs skill, but that really only applies to the decoration; and shur’ since when do we decorate to match the picture on the recipe?

Henry the tie man and Pirya are still in it, so them surviving last week was no fluke.

And a back-to-back for my shout out Steph Star Baker was well deserved last night, I really saw no other contender after David’s showstopper sagged.

Dr Rosie went to great lengths with her Impressive Domes, went one further by showing tribute to what custard pies are more known for, slapstick splat.

So much for my earlier reservations as she showed some real class in both her signature and her showstopper, so much so I was really hoping to have her White Russian Cocktail Cake recipe for ye today.

That’s it folks, if ye’re up to it lets hear what your own Cocktail Cake would be, and in the meantime Tip of the Week:water’ spray on the drizzle, thank you Henry.

Next week:
Desserts, or as gaeilge, Afters, so till then; BAKE! 

From top: Disgusted by the quality of cakes, Paul Hollywood walks out of the tent during last night’s Great British Bake-Off on Channel 4; Vanessa Foran

And the responsorial psalm is Full fat all the way;

I know he went home (and we’ll talk some more about it later) but for many of us that’s pure gospel; maybe a truck driver called Phil is my Patronus; maybe not, but he speaks to my spirit anyway. Full fat all the way.

There’s so much to talk about in last night’s Signature, but first I want to just bring us back to our own Bakesheet interests.

The first bake I did from the new kitchen here was Millie Murderlarks Buttermilk Sponge from last season’s Bakesheet; I remember her saying it was a Friendly Cake.  I didn’t share this with ye before because, well, nobody was really in the humour for cake least of all a Friendly Cake at the time.

Anyway, it was a no brainer for me to follow through with because I usually have a litre of buttermilk in the fridge just for baking.  Just like a baker will always have both plain and self-raising, and a range of sugars from caster to dark muscovado to icing.

And of course tubs of sour cream for just about everything else.

I was delighted with myself following the Signature last night, like there was more going on than just cultured dairy to share with the bakers at home; I loved that it was Cake, and pretty much all of them are easy, well the four here are tagged easy.

I wouldn’t be so sure about Helena’s spooky sponge or Michael’s Sour Lemon sponge with cheesecake filling – but feck I would have ate it, all of it, even the plate it was on, no matter what condition it came in.

The only difficulties are, and by way of an Ask a Broadsheeter – oil spray or butter for those fancy Bundt tins?

It is well established by now that I hate to promote anything here that requires kit that isn’t already in the everyday kitchen baking press.

But since I’ve a healthy suspicion it might be on a lot of bakers Christmas wish list; and I’m getting one anyway, so I thought I’d ask and share a Mary Berry’ism that I live by myself; get the very best you can afford.

So if you have fifty yoyos – spend the fifty, and not go home with one reduced to twenty.

And in fairness, Steph’s Rasa Chocolate Fudge was made for it.  Shur you’re worth it.  (and if someone can post up a reliable source for the freeze dried rasas’ you’ll be on the short list for the hamper.)

Another whinge for what was a great mutual Signature collective experience is that Rosie’s homemade Limoncello isn’t included in the recipe for her Limoncello & Basil cake and I think we are being short changed here.

OK, I know we are getting the recipe for free from the producers, but in fairness she got a brag and they got a telly moment out’ve Prue sneaking it away. It’s a Just Saying, that’s all.

The Technical; so bad it was good.  Even the Hollywood turned his backside to it.  Good in the sense we were introduced to a bake we’d never heard of, and one we wouldn’t dream of, Mary Anne Boermans excepted of course (who has the best bake blog going – @wotchers btw.)

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she came up with that technical for the producers.

Is it any wonder I’m now gagging at sharing this, I’d say that tent smelled like baby’s vomit – in the back seat of a ten year old car, in July.  And no matter the state of it was, Steph was the best of the lot.

Showstoppers; would ye?  Definitely not for me, boiling milk and stirring and stirring? I’d rather change the beds.

So I’ll be leaving it for the milk sweet experts and the lovers of Mishtie, the only interest I had in it was hoping Helena’s lemon sherbet recipe would be shared, and shouting you silly boy! at Henry to leave the freezer closed.

Jesus he couldn’t leave it alone, I was convinced he was going, I really was, so when Phil got called out, I too was shocked.

But you know, he wasn’t going to progress all that much further anyway; and it’s worth remembering we don’t get to see everything in the tent or witness the full depth of the judging.

Yet even from my own viewing of this year’s bakers, I would agree that Henry the tie man and Pirya deserved another round of challenges before being culled.

Big shout out to my fav from the start, Steph , Star Baker was well deserved last night.  She’s enjoyable and endearing; and good telly , also my pick for the final, along with last week’s Star Baker Michael.

Another great night for Helena who is clearly thriving.

I’m not getting Michelle or Dr Rosie but they deserve to be taking seriously in fairness.

Roaring Twenties next week.  Cocktails and Custards apparently.

I think I’ll have to go all out and put feathers in my hair.  Till then; BAKE!

Pic: Channel4

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.

Michael’s treasure chest is worth a shout out, and David’s snake was very accomplished; like him actually, a bit too practiced and way too proficiently efficient and unfussy.

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.

I’m also expecting Phil to still be around in October.

Yet I couldn’t call Star Baker last night.
Although no complaints when Michelle got the call up. I don’t fancy her chances.

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

From top: hosts and contestants on The Great British Bake-Off 2019; Vanessa Foran

Season 10; who knew?

And who remembered?

Channel Four kept it all very quiet, there was no word at all until they announced the cast (as you were btw) and the Season Premier a fortnight ago.

There was barely a mention until the competing bakers were announced this day last week.

Even I needed reminding that the tent was back up, and the news came from a lad who’d have an anxiety attack if he had to separate eggs.

Before we flour our worktops and roll out this year’s Bake-Sheet series, I need to make what I think is an important disclosure; towards the latter end of last year’s (Season 9) I got stumped in a swamp of lethargy and fatigue.

Out of the nine series so far, I have only missed one show, last year’s final, and between one thing and another I couldn’t even summon the curiosity to see what the bakes were or follow the recipes. I still haven’t. So, I will be somewhat lacking in background to bakes and winners.

I just lost my appetite I suppose. I couldn’t even gather the excitement for Celebrity Bake Off, and it was the best run yet; Russell Brand ffs  (on a side note Harry Hill a Star Baker himself, is signed up for Junior Bake Off 2019).

Hopefully this gap doesn’t interfere or hinder Bake-Sheet 2019; after all it always and only ever is about the bake in front of us. And the Hollywood handshake.

On that I don’t care what conspiracies are rising out there, or his threats to cease delivering the award. There is no bigger currency in baking than a Paul Hollywood handshake. It will never lose its lustre or its true value.

So now to tonight, and a few eye-openers.

Season 10 has increased the slices from 12 to a baker’s dozen (Yes OK, there were 13 bakers in Season 4 (the year Frances Quinn won) and 10 in year 1; I just thought we had settled on 12.

Then there’s the very noticeable age profile of this year’s Bakers. Again, that might just be me; you will meet only one baker tonight older than me.

Admittedly Bake Offenders like myself are always left dazed at what young smarty pants hipster bakers produce, and the flavours and ingredients they introduce, last year’s Kim-Joy being one of the most exciting and unique bakers that ever set foot inside the Tent, so I’m, for now anyway, suggesting that maybe the majority of applications are coming from the under-35s.

Then there’s the reality check; maybe I am that the oul’ wan with the durty laugh, and the old school wooden spoon baking tips?

Fair enough, but I will also have to admit that it would break my heart to see Channel Four exploit their Love Island success, because it would ruin all the previous nine series and what Bake Off grew into from that touring floppy tent in Season 1.

Even with the genius holding up the decision, it still took enormous courage to cast Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding into a mainstream household format.

They took a huge risk by replacing Mary Berry and introducing ad-breaks and sponsors. So, for that reason I trust the producers won’t leave Season 10 down.

A few more things to watch out for; two from Essex. So be prepared for a load of yu’au’ roi darlin.

And there is a Man Bun that might force you to look away.

They took my advice and returned to Cake; but with a twist. Fruit Cake is your episode 1 tonight.

For planning purposes, tonight’s show is 90 mins – maybe two will go and bring us back to normal. Or maybe they are giving us more time with each baker, which was always an issue in the early season.

That would make sense because the contestants were confirmed as far back as February, so maybe, just maybe they couldn’t separate two of them?

Anyway, I am going to leave us all completely open-minded and not cause suggestion that might influence.

So just to remind you all again that I will not be following any GBBO Social Media or Tabloid coverage, and will try to take each bake one by one as independently and as uninfluenced as I can.

In the meantime, grease your baking tins with this

And one spoiler alert. Bread Week is rumoured to be EPIC.

Vanessa will be reviewing each episode.

Pic: Channel 4

Great British Bake Off‘s Paul Hollywood congratulates baker Rahul Bajer (right) last night

It was pastry week on The Great British Bake-Off on Channel 4 last night.

Vanessa Foran writes:

I’m going to work backwards this week, and apologies for missing Spice Week.

Dan. Desperately disappointed to see him go, but in all fairness, he had to. We have now tipped over into the business end of Bake Off 2018 and there is nothing but baking talent left in the tent.

Any weakness, flop, or soggy bottom just isn’t tolerated, and there isn’t room left to hide or provide cover.

I’m mainly bothered because of all the bakers though the tent over the years, Dan was one who stuck to simple everyday ingredients, and managed with the skills we all already have, mainly our own two hands.

He did the basics better than anyone, he didn’t need exotic flavours or ambitious designs to get three Handshakes on the trot and a star baker for himself. In one regard, I would have him there as one of the most talented home bakers I’ve seen in the tent tbh,

OK, he’s no Mary-Anne Boermens  or John Whaite I highly regard him because I doubt he has any further interest in being recognised as a pro, and I feel his interest in baking will remain in the same spot as all of ours, our own kitchens.

But I do hope we hear from him again.

Pastry week is a blue ribbon event anyway, more blue plaster week last night, but I must admit that Jon  calling it “the Heavy Metal of all baking” was a spot on as you’re going to get for an Irish Baker, since we don’t have the great big celebration breads you’ll see the Hollywood drooling over and restaurants named after. Although there’s noting stopping us from developing one for ourselves.

We all do quick breads here, like brown sodas and potato farls, the outcome of our famine history. Black 47 the fillum, although they cut it very fine with the timing, did lean heavily into representing its origin.

The Irish have no historical grand plaits, and our holy feast bread was the communion wafer. So, for the Paddies, Pastry is our own specialist Signature.

Well that’s what I think anyway; and its why I will always try different versions of the same pastry. Except Puff. Shop bought all the way. So, Jon’s remark that Puff is Slipknot in terms of Pastry hardcore made absolute sense.

I really enjoyed the Signature last night, maybe because I was not alone in having never attempted them before, ate plenty ov’em mind, although I’ve never had a sweet one, unless the MaccieDs Apple Pie counts.

It was one of those Signatures that would encourage anyone I think. The pastry is quick, and every Irish house has at the very least a chip pan.

There is a great tip for anyone like me, who has the full spice and seed collection of pots, bags, tins and tubs, here in Rahul’s savoury; and the great thing about this recipe that you can change out the filling but keep the tip, the pastry and the raita recipe for the drawer. And I would be really tempted with his sweet if only to test if Prue’s reaction was required.

Nothing to say about the Technical, but I just wouldn’t myself. If ye have too much time on yere hands then let us know how you got on with it  .

Now here is where I found some more common ground with Dan, at the showstopper. Because I do that exact bake, salmon coulibac. It’s Russian, it’s easy and its great hot or cold. And if anyone has communions, dos, what-have-yas look into it.

I must also mention Ruby’s pie , You might remember Kate’s Curry Pie.Both definitely worth a try as everything is doable for any standard of cook.

Delighted for Briony  getting Star Baker, and even more so because there was no doubt attached to the decision; she’s worked hard and grafted challenge after challenge and deserves to be there. Not that that means anything at this stage, but she didn’t put a foot wrong last night, even with the dress. Pastry was the makings of her.

Just a word on appearance; I think Kim-Joy should do Noel’s make up next week, ‘cause its obvious Prue did it last night.

Vegan next week. Yeah I know. But lets wait and see….

Pic: Channel4

Baker Rahul (left) faces the judges on the Great British Bake-Off last night

it was a big week on The Great British Bake-Off on Channel 4.

Frilly Keane was watching with ‘kitchen mitts’ to hand.

Frilly writes:

Finally; the marquee event that is Bread week.

Bread week Signature opened with another traybake style, and unusually for The Hollywood, he repeated a challenge; Chelsea Buns. If memory serves they were a Technical in the BBC2 era. If not, well Noel’s Chelsea boots were something I’m sorry I noticed; now I feel shabby for mentioning Noel’s appearance again. Sorry.

But it had to be said; there’s a time an’ place for that type of nonsense footwear, and the Bake-Off tent is not one’ve ‘em nor is Bread week.

Enriched dough is special and there’s no need to repeat what I said the last time .

But one thought crossed my mind last night as they were doing the rounds that I’m not sure I shared before; this multitude of flavours that Bake-Off competitors seem to think they need. OK it’s a competition but the best bakers always do their everyday family favourite in the Signature anyway.

I myself never see the need to muddy up flavours, road-test techniques or crowd the textures and colours. Like why should a raspberry hav’ta share your pallet with pistachio, lemon oil, pomegranate seeds, and chocolate chards laced with turmeric?

Enhance it and support your main feature ingredient and keep the work to a minimum; so it was no surprise that Dan was the man and the only handshake. I would recommend this recipe for the 1st time enriched dough attempt, and have no fear with it just give it all the time you can, although I’m not sure about the brandy, I think I’d nearly try that coffee Jemmie.

Before I tear off into the Technical, Cinnamon Peanut Butter; now it can be bought, and there are recipes available, from vegan to gluten free but here  with just 5 ingredients. Now that’s a deffo alongside that coffee Jemmie.

Last night, I just couldn’t wait to get to talk t’ye about the Technical, I literally leapt when I heard Naan without yeast, and by using the grill. Even now, like just minutes ago, the dependent said it was last night’s stand out and had to be tried.

Listen everyone, even if you’re not a baker or even have the patience for me here, you have to give these a go and can’t wait meself.

Fresh Coriander is my favourite savoury herb; and here it is with melty butter n’ garlic, from under the grill and no yeast and proving. So, no excuses. One tip, I’d nearly put the grill on first thing, and do let us know how ye get on @bakesheet

And fair play to the Come Back Terry with the Technical Tash  for winning the Technical. Although he’s still sitting in the bottom half for me.

Showstopper time. You know that wouldn’t be my thing really, I wouldn’t do a celebration bread so I’m not going to indulge on last night’s.

But Kim Joy  did introduce a technique I had never heard of, Tangzhoung and I would follow up on since I do use roux a lot for stove top stuff, so it gets a mention; and her Showstopper might be of interest since it has two things going for it, the flavours are typical and uncomplicated, and the skill level is set as easy.

Annuder thing I noticed from last night’s Bread Showstoppers was how simple their plaiting was to be effective. Which sorta brings me back to my own baking policies about not needing to be overly grand with convoluted ingredients and styles and presentations for any bake to be treated equal.

Rahul is your back to back star baker, and is getting more squee by the minute, although I’m still holding back till I see his desserts; but last night definitely started to see some favourites pull away.

For me, Dan, is growing inta a strong favourite of mine, he is a home baker that bakes for the right reasons and with the right attitude.

Bollywood Banker Antony was always only there for a short time so I doubt any bake-offer will miss him.

Before I get back to work, a quick shout out for all the bakers, judges, presenters and crew behind last nights Bread Week. A three-hour Signature, plus one-hour Technical followed by a five-hour Showstopper.

That was one busy weekend, but in all fairness, they never had a sweeter smelling work place; butter, cinnamon, rum, coriander, orange, sugar, doesn’t that make you want to take the afternoon off and dip some crusty chocolate pasted bread into a flooding foamy Chai latte and watch this

No apologies for going on a bit this week since it was Bread week, and the best Bread week Bake-Off produced in nine seasons. Ok it didn’t have the laughs of last year’s, but it was like getting a one to one masterclass.

So, if this is all a chore for you, and you needed to pick one just to see why I do this, then this one is it.

Desserts next week everyone, and I’m expecting Manon to come good again, although I’m not looking forward to those earrings.

Frilly Keane can be followed on Twitter: @frillykeane

Pic: Channel 4

Star Baker Rahul (right) on last night’s Great British Bake-Off

A week after taking the biscuit

A cake-strewn Great British Bake-Off episode 2 aired on Channel 4 last night.

Frilly Keane writes:

Yes, its Cake week, which is what it’s all about, and I’m am absolutely confirmed in my opinion now that they shouldn’t have started with biscuits.

Cake is a far more relevant entry exam for Bake-Off Tenters and last night proved that beyond doubt.

Every baker, no matter how diligent or occasional they are should have a daycent traybake within their set of recipes and abilities. And if you’re like me you’ll have developed two oul’ reliables; one for the smallies and a grown-up one.

You should also have two tray options; square and rectangular, and as with all kitchen paraphernalia, tools, and appliances, always get the very best you can afford.

I’m telling ye all this ‘cause last night’s signature was a great demonstration of what the everyday baker can do very simply, and most importantly, tidily.

Traybakes don’t need trappings like sugar twirls or piped ornaments on top like you saw last night to be any less than they are.

There were loads to choose from last night; but for the grown-ups I would have to recommend Terry’s rum n’raisin, although I’d skip the candied walnuts; OK there are loads of ingredients to measure out, but most kitchen presses would have them anyway.

Briony’s Turron and Orange would make great treat-eats, but d’ya know wha’, I’d no more make marmalade than take up jogging. Also, something for my unlikely to-dos is to finalise a Lemon Meringue traybake recipe; if it ever happens ye’ll be the first t’ know.

While I’m here on traybakes, I need to disclose that I love Black Forest an’ting; but for me all that fresh cream and kirsch is wasted on a shallow tray measure; Black Forest deserves to be full-on drag, all glammed-up and never in a corner as a baby no-guilt sized portion. Nonetheless, it’s clear the two last night got away with it.

When a Le Gateau Vert was revealed as the Technical it got greeted by a garish and earthy ah’ ffs and its getting another one here now – ah’ ffs! Like why would ya be arsed? Spinach? Pistachio? Green cake?  Garish is right for it all day long.

I would stop on about it now only I think I should point out that Monet loved his grub, so I’m obliged to mention this book since Broadsheet is all about the non-fiction lately.

And that was a handy tip from Jon  about blending your butter with a dab of your cake batter before adding into the full mixture.

Jon is obviously one to watch already, and I think Bread week might be his star turn, yet I’ll remain open about them all and there’s no favourite yet for me. Although unlike the Black Forest, Anthony’s Bollywood smiles are long past their clichéd date already.

Yay! Showstopper time now. But they were far from yays last night; loads of promises alright but nothing you’d put into a shop window really.

OK none of us temper chocolate  at home, well maybe Martco does. But then he has a kitchen crew to clean up after him.

Most of us don’t do fancy stuff with chocolate or sugar because its too much cleaning up afterwards, you need specialised kit and it all tastes the same anyway.

I’d no more bother with a chocolate collar than I would iron me tea-towels. That sorta carryon is just for the telly or for places that charge eight yoyos for a slice, and a mane one at that.

One showstopper I want to mention is Luke’s Raspberry & White Chocolate. OK,  he made a hames of it and had to go, but that cake promised so much and still does as it has everything the Irish palate loves, craves, and deserves. So just for ye, I have reached out to the lad and asked him for the recipe.

Some final bites from last night;

I hope the Hollywood doesn’t get handshake regret after last night. None last week, but he lost the run of himself with cake week.

Star Baker Rahul is no doubt a serious and accomplished baker but has yet to make something I would try myself or even recommend. I’d go so far and say even now in the early days – I don’t think he’s going’ta make it into the big three.

Probably my favourite BO innuendo ever; six inches takes 45 minutes eight about an hour; not in my experience but who am I to contradict so enjoy.

And I’m loving the range of accents, but tell us, would it be a Commonwealth of accents or an Empire d’ye think?

Next week for the rising and somehow, maybe tis just me and that chintzy ‘tash, but I don’t think Terry is cut out for it all.

In the meantime, for convenience and t’ keep things more orderly @bakesheet is now set up on the twitter so tag on.

Frilly Keane can be followed on Twitter: @frillykeane

Pic: Channel 4