Ah, Bake Off, Bake Off, I love you so much! You never ever disappoint. Last night I gorged myself on a double helping of the episode itself and its spin-off show, An Extra Slice, with the redoubtable Jo Brand. This week was bread week and was stuffed full of juicy double entendres, what with hot buns, good rises, soggy bottoms and Luis literally gilding his olives. Magnificent! Sadly, though, my fears came to pass and we had to bid farewell to Jordan.
Oh, Jordan, you take a little piece of my heart with you! Snaggle-toothed and sweet-souled, if our outsides reflected our insides he would be better looking than George Clooney. (To digress slightly, I have often thought that if our outsides did indeed reflect our insides, Colin Firth is probably the only person in the world who would carry on looking exactly the same.) Jordan has a girlfriend, for whom I have one word: keeper. A kind heart and a sense of humour will sustain you long after looks have faded.
Jordan, alas, was undone by his bebuphobia, which Wikipedia tells me is what the fear of blueberries is called (isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing?). In week one, his cakes flavoured with blueberry and lemon did not go down well with Mary. Twitter has taken to calling her looks of disapproval “Mary Berry’s Death Stare”, and Jordan had clearly taken his mild scorching by MBDS to heart. At the last minute he changed his showstopper recipe, a sweet loaf stuffed with blueberries, to one stuffed with strawberries and raspberries. The fruit leaked, the dough was wet, and disaster ensued. To quote Paul Hollywood, who leads on bread week as he is, in fact, a professional baker: “It’s raw”. Enough of the technical talk, Paul, say it how you mean it, why don’t you? Poor Jordan. Undone by soft fruit. He forgot rule number one of any big undertaking, be it swim, show, talk or bake, never change ANYTHING at the last moment. If you do, it will inevitably lead to problems. Just do it like you practised it. Really, trust me on this.
Elsewhere, interesting things were happening. Some of those who looked like winners at the beginning were starting to fray a little. Nancy’s showstopper, whilst packed with good things on the inside, was sadly plain on the outside, a bit like Jordan. Martha is gamely hanging in there, although her sunflower stuffed bread showstopper looked more like a mutant space hedgehog than a loaf. Norman, Scottish to the bone, is really struggling to grasp the full meaning of the phrase “A bit too plain”. He reminds me of Frances, who last year had to be told about twelve times by Paul to concentrate less on the look and more on the taste (I kept expecting to see him in the background, furiously snapping one of her carefully crafted display boards over his knee). Mind you, she went on to win, so who can tell?
Kate, meanwhile, leapt to stardom with a near-perfect ciabatta. As part of this technical challenge, the contestants had to prove the dough “at room temperature”. This, as Paul confided to the camera, was vital, since if the first proving was carried out at too high a temperature, the dough would not hold its rise. For some reason all of the contestants except Luis and Kate interpreted this as meaning “room temperature in a hot room in the Mediterranean on a sunny day”, and, since the Bake Off tent was at “English spring day on a day when spring has decided to take a little break and hand over to its mate late winter for a short comeback tour” room temperature, they all put their dough in the proving drawer. Shot of Kate looking worried and Luis murmuring reassuringly “Don’t crack…”
He proved to be absolutely right. All the dough rose, but Kate’s came out firm, springy and pleasingly bulky, a bit like Paul Hollywood, whilst the dough of those who had used the proving drawer came out flaccid and slimy with an unpleasant tendency to spread outwards, rather like Michael Gove. On the back of this Kate won the technical, which was most pleasing, as she is a friend of a friend of mine. She seems to be learning and growing in confidence, so I shall be keeping my fingers crossed….
Next week is dessert week. I don’t know how the Bake Off team do it, but dessert week always coincides with the hottest weekend of filming, creating much drama as the contestants desperately try to temper chocolate while sweat rolls down their faces and drips off their chins. I imagine the production team sending a complimentary Mary Berry gateau and a box of Paul Hollywood doughnuts to the BBC weather office at the start of filming and awaiting the tip-off that temperatures are about to rise: “It’s going to hit 35° in the South East next week! Activate Plan Meringue!!!” I can scarcely wait….