The Great British Bake Off - Channel 4 edition

Yep. She’s clearly incredibly talented.

Heads up. New series of the Bake Off starts this Tuesday (22nd). The series will be available - one episode at a time - on Netflix the following Friday (25th).

Given I’m back in lockdown, this is a good thing.

Yeah, can't wait! It's what the world needs.

Sorbicol wrote:

Heads up. New series of the Bake Off starts this Tuesday (22nd). The series will be available - one episode at a time - on Netflix the following Friday (25th).

Given I’m back in lockdown, this is a good thing.

Netflix worldwide or just in the UK?

Jonman wrote:
Sorbicol wrote:

Heads up. New series of the Bake Off starts this Tuesday (22nd). The series will be available - one episode at a time - on Netflix the following Friday (25th).

Given I’m back in lockdown, this is a good thing.

Netflix worldwide or just in the UK?

I believe worldwide but I’d have to check to be sure.

Jonman wrote:
Sorbicol wrote:

Heads up. New series of the Bake Off starts this Tuesday (22nd). The series will be available - one episode at a time - on Netflix the following Friday (25th).

Given I’m back in lockdown, this is a good thing.

Netflix worldwide or just in the UK?

It was worldwide (or at least US Netflix) last season so I assume the same this year.

So, that was thoroughly enjoyable and a little bubble of normality in these increasingly abnormal times:

Immediate thoughts:

There is a much better spread of bakers this year - ages, personalities, backgrounds. It already feels much more like "bake off" in that regard compared to last year
There are at least 6 people in the tent who would have wiped the floor with last year's batch, this is a good thing. Some of them, even in this first show, look very good indeed.
The "Bingate" incident (there is one in this show) is so massively underplayed it's like they were trying too hard - "nothing to see here, move along!" and hardly anything from the victim. It was all a little peculiar.

The Star Baker - I did feel there was one other person in the tent who did better than they did, but on the other hand there wasn't that much in it.

The person leaving - there were at least two people in the tent worst bakers than they were, but if you're going to go for more exotic flavour combinations, you'd better be sure you can get it right. They very clearly didn't, and Paul does not like bad flavour combinations. Mind you one of the other bakers had such a bad time I was surprised it wasn't them. So were they by the look on their face when it was announced!

Agree with all that. It feels like a good bunch. I am aware that do take a couple of episodes before I really develop favourites. I am just so happy to have it on television.

My initial impression is that Matt Lucas is mainly there to taste cake and I approve. Noel still feels off.

A small bit of normality back in my life. I enjoyed it immensely and am still thrilled Noel is there. Already missing Sandi. Matt is a nice addition, though.

Sorbicol wrote:

So, that was thoroughly enjoyable and a little bubble of normality in these increasingly abnormal times

30 seconds in, I felt normal and relaxed for the first time in 6 months. Instantly started crying.

Anyway, great start to the season. I don't have any strong feelings, good or less good (bad is too strong a word for Bake Off), about anybody just yet. A number of folks could have been eliminated this week. I'm sure they'll go before we're halfway. But I feel so much worse for those sent home now. More motivation to bake your ass off so you can stay in the quarantine bubble where hugging is allowed.

The person leaving - there were at least two people in the tent worst bakers than they were, but if you're going to go for more exotic flavour combinations, you'd better be sure you can get it right. They very clearly didn't, and Paul does not like bad flavour combinations. Mind you one of the other bakers had such a bad time I was surprised it wasn't them. So were they by the look on their face when it was announced!

Yeah, I was still a bit surprised though -- those other two had such disastrous weeks.

We enjoyed the episode, for sure. Definitely felt the Showstopper was basically a 10/10 for difficulty, which was a bit odd for week one.

Still, the kid who won Star Baker (Peter) was basically perfect across all three bakes. Saw that coming a mile away.

Figured the one guy (Marc with a c) would leave as he did nothing right all weekend, but when the judges tell you that you've overflavored and then you do it again... Bam. She stayed true to herself and I was surprised she was booted, but that's how it goes sometimes. The bottom is quite clear at this point.

Sura smiling was a great reward! Best part of the episode. I see quite a bit of myself in her, or at least how she was depicted.

Matt Lucas fits in. I'm SO glad. (Still miss Mel and Sue. #forever)

I still miss Mel and Sue (and Mary) too. I could take or leave Matt, maybe he'll grow on me. He seems an odd choice for a host since he is so understated and generally subdued. I also mentioned to my wife when they announced the showstopper that is seemed much more challenging than they usually give them in week 1.

I hope we get into a bit of behind-the-scenes of their bubble, like how many days do they have to prep between filmings and does each person have their own mini-kitchen to practice and such? How much they could practice seemed like a big part of previous years' outcomes.

Sandi was absurdly subdued too.

So, biscuit week.

I think everybody was more settled this week, and there considerably better performance across the board - several of the first week’s strugglers did very well this week, I was quite impressed to be honest, I think this years bunch are even more talented than I thought!

The Lucas / Fielding dynamic is very much ‘blokes having a laugh’ which I’m not sure is entirely what bake off needs, but on the other hand it’s fairy gentle and not directed at anybody but themselves so it more or less works. I was a little worried Fielding was going to go too far with his gentle teasing of Sura for last weeks bingate incident, but he kept that the right side of things.

The right person was clearly star baker, but again I’m not sure that right person left. Not a lot in it but there definitely one person who did worse than they did for the actual baking. Then again Mark - who I felt had the worst week last week - did really well this week so what do I know?

Also first Hollywood handshake of the series. A bit more restrained than last year!

Next week is bread week. They are sure going to have to earn that handshake.

Bread week! and a handshake!

I was fairly bored by the week. Happy it exists, but bored.

Rainbow bagels were silly.

garion333 wrote:

I was fairly bored by the week. Happy it exists, but bored.

Rainbow bagels were silly.

I did think it was fairly predictable who was going to leave, but there are quite a few people I thought weren't very good, that now they have settled are actually quite good! You also get the impression any one of them could have an outstanding week one week and really have a catastrophe the next.

I think it makes for great viewing personally. It all feels more than a little unpredictable.

Oooof.

Brutal comments this week and some nightmare bakes. Still if you can’t bake a brownie for the bake off, you should be in trouble.

Also the White Chocolate showstopper finale involved so much white chocolate I actually felt quite nauseous just watching it!

Quite a few of them had a bad week this week but the person going had a disaster in that final round and the writing was on the wall. Let some others off the hook though.

Really sad actually, they’ve definitely been one of the better bakers over all but just got completely tripped up this week.

garion333 wrote:

I was fairly bored by the week. Happy it exists, but bored.

Rainbow bagels were silly.

Honestly i was furious with the whole "i think it represents the NHS" bullsh*t. There has been a concerted effort to appropriate the LGBTQ+ flag by media and corporations to represent the NHS ever since covid started (to the point where some companies started rebranding "Pride flags" and selling them as "NHS flags"

pyxistyx wrote:
garion333 wrote:

I was fairly bored by the week. Happy it exists, but bored.

Rainbow bagels were silly.

Honestly i was furious with the whole "i think it represents the NHS" bullsh*t. There has been a concerted effort to appropriate the LGBTQ+ flag by media and corporations to represent the NHS ever since covid started (to the point where some companies started rebranding "Pride flags" and selling them as "NHS flags"

Yeah, I had no idea that was a thing. Obviously I know what the rainbow means for LGBTQ+, but had no idea there was any effort to undermine that in the UK. When Paul made that comment I assumed that the rainbow was already somehow associated with NHS (seeing as I'm American and all).

Google has been recommending articles all this week about his comment though and it's a real shame. How in the hell did they think this would go over well? Wtf?

So, yeah, just watched the latest episode and...

NOOOOOOOOOOO!

*sigh* Didn't want that person to go. Oh well. 2020, you win.

What a rough week in general.

So, Pastry Week.

The general standard - with one exception - was generally better this week, and the showstopper round produced several actual showstopper pieces that really did look the business. However, some of them are clearly hitting the limits of their abilities and I think are on borrowed time.

The star baker won on the strength of their showstopper (and to be honest I think they deserved to) and the person leaving because they didn't really actually do what they were asked to do in any of the challenges - including one of the worst attempts at a technical I can remember. It wasn't a good week for them.

My wife is an avid Bake Off viewer whereas I just drift in or out or it's something in the background as she watches it while I do something else in the same room. I read her the headline of this story and she was immediately defensive but when I read her the rest she had no rebuttal for any of it, and especially agreed with the part about the technical challenge. She says they said they were "going back to basics" and that lasted all of one season before the technicals went back to being things nobody had ever heard of.

https://www.theringer.com/tv/2020/10...

Thoughts? I'm curious to hear responses from other people who are really into the show.

The technicals this season have been pineapple upside-down cake, bagels, macaroons, and babka. I guess those might be obscure in England (I doubt it though) but this is clearly being written from an Americans perspective (hence, the bitching about cookies). Anyway, I think he's completely wrong about the technicals. The best way to test technical skill is to take away preconceptions about what they're making. The complaint about vague instructions makes no sense since those would be just as vague for a common thing.

The only point that is kind of valid is the overabundance of sculpture based showstoppers. The complaints about the cast are all subjective whining. And, it's been 11 seasons, f*ck off with the cookie vs biscuits stuff.

Yes as Mr Pants says, the technicals this season so far have been entirely reasonable. The pastry week’s technical was Eclairs, which was good divider of the group. One issue with the technicals is that every year the cohorts get better. Most of this years group would be finalists in the early years. It really seems like there aren’t any weak ones in this group like other years.

Spoiler:

For example I think Lottie had a bad week and definitely seemed to not be enjoying the experience but I don’t think she’s at her limits. Linda really went out this week for a bad technical and not following the brief in the signature. There hasn’t been a repeat star baker this year so far, nor do I think there should have been. It’s the strongest set of people I think I have seen.

Macaroons and pineapple upside down cake (dreamily reminiscences about my mother’s pineapple upside down cakes from my childhood) are staple British deserts and cakes. From the 1970s admittedly, but they certainly are. Bagels are in wide circulation, and Eclairs as well. Nothing there ‘non-britsh’ (even if we stole Bagels from the US/Netherlands & Eclairs from the French) but they have been technicals where all of the contestants knew what they were baking. The only exception this year (so far - next week is Japan week so none of them will have a clue) was the Babka, but I’d also say that was the best technical for most of them, nobody really got it wrong.

As for that article. What’s wrong with the bake off? I’m not sure that’s the right answer. Last years Bake Off was by far the worst there’s been. Too many bakers who were clearly picked for TV appeal rather than baking talent (this year I’d only really pick Rowan in that category, but he can clearly bake) Paul & Prue being bad cop and nasty cop, Sandi was really the only bite of lightness in the judging/presenting quartet.

Channel 4 seem to have listened to all last years criticism and toned all that down. Got bakers who can bake first and for most, and told Prue to tone it down. Now it’s a more considered approach Paul & Prue but still with some very harsh commentary, but Noel and Matt’s duel buffoonery doesn't really quite work. Noels not so bad at a kind word when things are going wrong but I’m not sure Lucas is quite there yet. Neither, however, have the empathy Mel, Sue or Toskvig had. It’s really lacking this season.

The only thing that article really gets right is that Paul, Mary, Mel & Sue were perfect and made the show what it was. They’ve never been able to replace that. Get rid of Hollywood though and most people will stop watching.

However, so far this season has felt like channel 4s best season for me. The challenges feel right and it’s the best spread of good bakers in years. Get that right and 90% of what the show is is sorted.

Edit: The other thing that article gets wrong is biscuits. British biscuits are biscuits - they snap. Cookies are something completely different.

I agreed with a lot in the article, but not some/most of the conclusions.

I haven't found this year to be particularly good for baking (see: brownies) but they've also started off with the challenge turned up.

We all want to go back to the old Bake Off, but it's long gone. Shame, but we've still got a decent show that no other knock off has managed to top.

The brownie failure was an awesome example of a Red Queen’s race. Every contestant was worried that another contestant would produce something technically novel and so tried for a technically novel brownie. None of them tried to do a normal brownie (because it would be too simple and easy to upstage) and all of them got hammered for not making a normal brownie. I s certain that everyone of them has a standard chocolate brownie that their families love.

Oh, I agree, but these were practiced bakes and none of them came close to even a decent bake. Like, nowhere close.

Can't say I recall that ever happening.

(Perhaps the brownie overdesign is because they're all locked up in the same hotel and see what they're all doing.)