The Great Irish Bake Off drives Julie mad, so naturally we’re getting her to review it each week. The review below is of the episode that aired on Thursday 17th October.
I love the Great British Bake Off. I love the dedication of the contestants, how funny the presenters are and how slick the whole production is, especially the historical segments. Tough and experienced judges, clever editing and an incredibly high standard of baking always make for a nail-biting conclusion. The TV3 version has the same opening credits and Anna Nolan sports the same outfits as Mel and Sue, but it’s there that the similarity ends.
It didn’t bode well from the start, where contestants were asked to make cupcakes. Yes, cupcakes. Then judge Paul Kelly, Executive Pastry Chef at the Merrion Hotel, outlined instructions for a cake with crushed Special K on it. Last week, they were asked to make a crumble. Yawn. Lazy and fewer challenges (due to the ginormous ad breaks), no history bits, a bored Anna Nolan and a lurid set full of random tat makes it a different animal.
So, last Thursday we were down to seven bakers. The ‘Signature Bake’ is a chocolate cake. All the ingredients are in kilner jars, apart from sponsor’s Odlum’s flour which is in clearly-marked sacks. Second judge, Biddy White Lennon (actress turned cook booker), keeps going on about the cakes being soft and gentle in her mouth. Maybe there’s a deodorant sponsor too.
The contestants include Maryanne, who wears sunglasses on her head all the time. Maybe something terrible has happened to her where they became stuck. She refers to herself in the third person, and pipes a diabolical “signature swirl” on all her cakes. I wouldn’t think she’d take too kindly to you blocking her view at a Michael Buble concert. She forgets to put sugar and then praline in her chocolate praline cake. “Well done Maryanne!” she says. I think she’s being sarcastic.
Aoife’s mother told her not to put butter in the ganache as she didn’t like the taste. Despite this being the setting agent in ganache, and Aoife’s mother not being a judge, she doesn’t put the butter in and it runs down the side of the cake. Oh, Ireland.
Will has a lot to say. “Some people go in and talk about it a lot, as to what (challenge) might come up, but there’s no point talking about it in my head”. He’s obviously some kind of genius. In his head.
He says he’s doing a bundt cake with honeycomb lava and volcanic ash. He produces a burnt-looking bundt cake with lumps of crunchie. Paul Kelly says he has a great imagination. He certainly does. In his head.
Jarek is a dark Polish man, silently simmering with rage. Or indigestion. Either way, we don’t see a lot of him, so he’s probably being kicked out.
The judges decide Ireland’s top bakers’ cakes all taste grand but look rubbish. Except Jarek’s, which looked and tasted rubbish.
The last part is the Technical Challenge – a Trio of Chocolate Bavoir with orange and mango jelly, cookie crumble, with biscuit wheels and a quinelle of fresh cream. It looks like chocolate, butterscotch and banana Angel’s Delight in a glass.
Oonagh forgets to dissolve her gelatin leaf, and ends up with a dodgy plastic lump. “It looks like an old sock!” she exclaims. Yes, if you wear plastic socks. Will is looking at his orangey mango mixture. “I thought it would be clear” he muses, “maybe it will go clear when it’s set”. Maybe, in his head.
The desserts are tested anonymously, but we see the baker’s photo in front of them. They are all standard headshots, apart from Maryanne’s, which seems to have been replaced with one of her smouldering over her shoulder, shades still atop her head. Each and every dessert is painstakingly tasted and commented on. Anna Nolan is losing the will to live.
Oonagh’s Angel’s Delight wins the challenge. A grubby piece of paper saying “1” that looks like it’s been peeled off the floor of a nightclub is placed in front of it. Jarek is raging. “I feel confident and I think my dessert was nicer and my dessert looked more nice than the other people” he sulks.
Someone elbows Anna back to consciousness. “This week you’ve made me really happy” she reads off the autocue, “locked in a tent with tons of chocolate and Ireland’s best bakers”. Despite coming third in the technical challenge and taking her mammy’s poor advice, Aoife gets Star Baker. Jarek is the contestant to go. “That’s fair enough. I knew that” he lies. Outside, Oonagh confides that they’ll miss him, saying “Jarek’s great fun. He’s the life and soul and hilarious!” Obviously they edited out all his japes to make room for the Odlum’s Flour shots.
Paul Kelly said “it was down to a game of inches”. Maybe that’s something they play in the Merrion kitchen while waiting for their Special K cakes to cook. We get a glimpse of next week’s show. Biddy says “I’ll be watching for technique. It’s got to be perfect”. We then see a pile of profiteroles that look like they’ve been driven over by a truck. It’s probably an Odlum’s truck. We’ll see next week.