Review: The Great British Bake Off (Season 6, Episode 1)

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Promising

A promising start to the beloved series that sees twelve bakers up against one another, with charm and wit added from the hosts and bakers alike.

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The nation took a collective sigh relief on Wednesday night (5th August), as surprising fan favourite The Great British Bake Off returned to BBC One for a brand new series.

The show began by introducing viewers to twelve anxious bakers, who ranged from a body builder, a full-time mum, a fire-fighter,  a 19-year old student, and the official UK photographer for the Dalai Lama, all of whom will be fighting it out for the next twelve weeks to be crowded the Great British baker.

As the bakers enter the white ‘Bake Off’ tent, hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins natter on in their witty and sarcastic way, which in any other instance would seem obnoxious but here, seem to work perfectly as they take the mick out of judge and renowned baker Paul Hollywood with the adorable Mary ‘Bezza’ Berry giggling along.

Mel and Sue announced that the first signature bake of the series is a classic Madeira cake (which is apparently a close textured cake with a dome and crack on the top – who knew!) and that the bakers have two hours to make it. From basic knowledge, this is not a difficult cake to make, but some of the bakers seem to make their lives much more difficult for themselves by adding unusual ingredients to the mix, in what seems some place just for the sake of it or to be “different”. One baker who did just that is firefighter Mat, whom made a G&T madeira cake with seven shots of gin in it. One could argue that he is playing a game and just making it for the sake of impressing Mary Berry and playing to her notorious love of alcohol by adding gin to his cake. However, come judging time, Bezza was less than impressed and was disappointed in the lack of gin! Another baker who had difficulties is musician Stu, whose icing glaze has turned to caramel and icing is too sticky. 

Moving onto the technical challenge which was set by Mary this week, the bakers were given basic and limited instructions to make a quintessentially British walnut cake. And from the go, Stu was having difficulties, he read the instructions incorrectly and mixed his batter wrong for starters, and when it comes to the caramel he’s completely lost. It’s no surprise that he is in the bottom and is risking elimination, in some instances it is a shock he even got onto the show, as he defies the recipe which is given to him by one of the best bakers in the country and yet still expects to win! In the top is the lovable Marie, who is proving to be the one to beat so far, with perfect Madeira and walnut cakes, and body builder Ugne who has perfect layers of sponge and excellent icing on her walnut cake.

At this point of the show, fans are used to seeing a VT of a history of cake. A feature that has been present since the first series and which aims to educate the viewers further into the history of cakes and in some cases the history of the nation. However this episode, the VT seems to have gone missing. It seems unlike the BBC to miss the educational factor in their programming, so one can only assume it was cut from this episode due to the large number of bakers in the competition.

Dorrett's unfortunate cake disaster that saw her mousse not set in time!

Dorrett’s unfortunate cake disaster that saw her mousse not set in time!

The following day sees the big one that can make or break you as a baker – the showstopper. This week it was a traditional Black Forest gateau with intricate chocolate work to be included. And this is where the disasters began, Stu started putting beetroot into his sponge, Ugne did not cut up her fruit enough for it to be evenly disputed, and poor Dorrett’s mousse didn’t set in time, meaning that she was presenting the judges with what can only be considered a landslide of a cake. Que the tears and hugs of comfort from Sue.

It is no surprise that Stu is this week’s eliminated baker and that Marie is the series first star baker, she is clearly one to watch alongside Flora, Nadiya and Tamal.

The reason everyone loves GBBO is because it is a simple concept – baking. Everyone can do it, it’s not difficult to follow a recipe and bake a Victoria sponge, yet it is the emotion and love that these bakers pour into there art that make its so addictive to watch. As previous series have shown, each week you fall more and more in love with the bakers and there little quirks (Everyone remembers and loves retired naval officer Norman and his injection of lavender into royal icing last year?), as well as the competitive nature of the show (Bingate, anyone?) that makes the Great British public tune in week after week.

The Great British Bake Off airs on BBC One on Wednesday at 8pm. 

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Third year Film student, Head of External Relations for The Edge and Vice President of FilmSoc. I love tea and I also love Disney. A lot.

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