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And on! to the Technical! Having completely ignored their own edict to “keep it simple” this series, Paul ‘n’ Mary made up for it big stylee in the Technical by asking the finalists to “make a Victoria sponge with jam and buttercream”. Normally the contestants are given basic instructions, but in this case, the instructions were exactly that: “Make a Victoria sponge with jam and buttercream”.  Mwah-hah-hah-ha! Oh, that Mary Berry! She may look like a little old lady, but she’s the Vladimir Putin of baking underneath that twinkly exterior. She could kill you with a teaspoon, you know. True.

The contestants looked slightly wild-eyed at this, suspecting a trick. The trick, as it turned out, was that the VS w. J&B had to be perfect. Perfect! Andrew was so hyper-conscious of this that he measured both his ingredients and his mixture to make sure he had exactly the right amounts and the same amount in each tin. Once an engineer….. Candice sieved her jam to get the pips out, which turned out to be a bit of an error, as she thus turned it from jam to jelly, which we all know is either American or something you have with meat. In Victoria Sponge terms, neither is good.  

Both Candice and Jane made the schoolgirl error of leaving their sponges in a bit too long, so that rather than being a lovely inviting golden-brown, like The Boy Andrew’s, they were slightly darker, like the Danish pastry in Café Nero which you hope the assistant won’t serve you, because you know that when you bite into it, it will explode in a shower of slightly over-baked shards, usually all over your lap. 

And buttercream! One could write a whole chapter on buttercream alone. Apparently if you put all the sugar in at once it becomes gritty, so sugar must be added bit by bit. Go Andrew!  And all the contestants piped it, doubtless remembering Paul Hollywood’s dictum from a previous final: “It’s the final. You pipe.” Jane went so far as to say of hers “That looks yummy”, which is tempting fate, not to mention M Bez and The Baker, who were doubtless thinking “We’ll be the judges of that!” Which is fair enough, since they are, you know, the judges. 

And tempting fate it proved to be, since, when M Bez and Judge Bread (do you see what I did there?) brought their gimlet eyes to bear on the gingham altar offerings, it was Andrew who carried the day and Jane and Candice who failed. Hooray! Revenge for the handshakes!! And with all contestants neck and neck and a cheeky flash of Andrew’s knees, it was goodbye to day one. Ho!! for the final tomorrow!