Friday 27 April 2018

Great British Bake Off Victorian Week: Pigeon pie and tennis cake

Mat Riley who has become the latest contestant to be voted off BBC1's cookery contest, The Great British Bake Off.
Mat Riley who has become the latest contestant to be voted off BBC1's cookery contest, The Great British Bake Off.
Vicki Notaro

Vicki Notaro

It’s Victorian Week!

This week, the bakers took a step back in time for the first time ever, devoting an entire week to the style of modern baking popularised under Queen Victoria. Alvin is no longer with us, to the despair of pretty much everyone – but can you imagine his little face when confronted with this vintage craziness?

The signature challenge involved baking game pies with a thin crust and ornate, intricate decoration, while the technical involved fruit cake and a marzipan tennis court. The showstopper was a Russe with 3D design and lots of jelly. If you’ve never heard of any of these things, you are not alone.

Most people, contestants and viewers alike, were perplexed by the theme. But of course Insufferable Ian loves Victorian week. “This is the week I’ve been really waiting for.” Sure, mate. You’re on your own.

Here are the highlights...


1 Pigeon pie?!

The contestants raised their game to make a Raised Game Pie. Sounds quite innocuous, but no, it means pigeon pie along with some other random meats. Think four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, or Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street. We watch Bake Off for delicious sweet treats and carbohydrate goodness, not gelatinous goo and uncommon meats. Is the show losing the run of itself?


2 Ian loves eating dead animals he finds on the road

Ian absolutely loves eating roadkill, inspired by a hare he found not quite flattened on the road near his home in Hertfordshire. Now he likes to collect dead animals and bake them.


3 Paul frightens and delights

Every word Judge Paul says to Contestant Paul seems to cut like a knife, while Tamal got a handshake from Hollywood, a rare and exciting occurrence. That man has the power to destroy and conquer.


4 Tennis cake?!

Technical challenge: Tennis cake. Rich fruit, royal icing. It seems nobody has ever heard of a densely packed fruit cake with a tennis court on top, oddly enough.


5 “I don’t know what a tennis court looks like”

Well Nadiya, at a push, we’re not sure we could construct one in such a highly pressured environment either. Especially on top of a cake.


6 Mat put his icing decorations in the oven

The tennis cake caused last week’s star baker Mat with one t to lose the plot. First he struggled with his icing, then he put his decorations in the oven, much to the chagrin of Nadiya (and everyone on Twitter).


7 Tamal loves the floor

Has anyone else noticed just how much Tamal utilises the floor in his baking? It’s decidedly odd.  But he was wearing a lovely lavender t-shirt, so the ladies of Twitter let him away with it.


8 Woble wobble

Gelatine was a big deal back in Victorian times, so it features heavily in its baking. The contestants were charged with making a Russe, which is basically rusks, bavois and jelly, a texture that wasn’t exactly telegenic. But opulence was the name of the game, with Contestant Paul taking a chisel to his apple.


9 “Everyone else is doing lots of stuff”

Shrewd observation Mat with one t. Everyone was doing lots of stuff, from building 3D structures to carving fruit. He seemed on the edge this week, and a split Russe almost crushed his indomitable spirit.

Tamal the dreamboat earned Star Baker for the first time, but Mat with one t's flame was finally distinguished. Devastating.

Next week it's the quarter final with only five contestants left...

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