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TV Review: The Great Irish Bake Off (Episode 8, 7 Nov 2013)

Will”s Hook Head Cake

The final episode of The Great Irish Bake Off kicked off like a biblical epic, with dramatic music and voiceovers about how they wanted to win and never expected to get blah blah blah. The close-ups of those hideous aprons taunted us with their disregard for smoothness.

The Technical Challenge is Petit fours including vanilla fudge, poppy seed tuilles, fruit tartlets and salted caramel white chocolate lollipops. Half the challenge is to remember that. “The taste is very important on them because they’re so small” is Stephen’s curious rule of thumb. Maryanne’s lucky shades were back on her head. “God only knows what’s going to get pulled out of the bag” she guffawed.

We see each of their journeys, including facial hair growth, then watch judges taste and describe each petit four, followed by each contestant making each petit four. “Sweet Jesus Christ” said Will. Exactly.

Paul again reiterates how important it is to be able to bake, especially in the final. Maryanne announces that she’s added flour twice instead of icing sugar. Sponsor Odlums are probably happy with that though. Will is very confident about his petit fours. However, Biddy says they’re so large she can’t take them seriously. He enlarges his eyes like Michael Douglas in “Falling Down”. Stephen had no fudge, so Maryanne comes first, despite her sugarless tuilles.

Anna chirpily mentions the end is nigh as she reveals the Showstopper Challenge, “ something that either reflects the natural landscape or the built heritage of Ireland”. Not an auld wedding cake then. Poor Anna suggests “Rhubarb Crumlin” to tumbleweed.

“I’m expecting that they will look into themselves and choose something that has a meaning for them” says Biddy. “I’m melting all my chocolate and putting it on a balloon” says Will. “I’m making a Georgian front door” says Maryanne. Stephen is constructing past and present images of Dunluce Castle in gingerbread. In a nice ode to episode one’s Special K cakes, he’s made roofs out of things that look like Shreddies.

It’s the hottest day of the year, so Maryanne just sets up camp in an open fridge, whittering away the TV3 budget. Will has piled some black and white cakes on top of each other inside his blue chocolate balloon. “Tonight, Matthew, I’m…..Hook Lighthouse” the cake says. I think I’m going to get sick from laughing. Maryanne has broken down in tears, bless her. The judges are very nice about her hall door. Will brings crashing wave sound effects for his lighthouse, so they could at least pretend they were laughing at that. Stephen presented several gingerbread houses. They liked the gingerbread.

As the judges deliberate, the camera drifts over to a fork sticking out of a teapot. Stephen is announced the winner as all the contestants reform awkwardly like a gaeltacht reunion when you remember it’s only been a month ago and you don’t really know anyone. Well done Stephen. Paul’s taken him in for a go in the Merrion and he’s thinking of taking a year out from college. I’m sure we’ll see their books next Christmas. I’d buy Will’s for the lighthouse alone.

TV3 are looking for contestants for next year. Hopefully they’ll tone down the set and get Lucy Kennedy to present with Maeve Higgins.

Who do you think should present or judge? Do you need to be able to bake? Should I see someone about my obsession with the aprons?


  1. God save us from Lucy Kennedy. It should be to two Higgins sisters presenting and they should make sure that next years contestants can actually bake.

  2. Claire’s idea of the Higgins sisters is good. Anna just seemed kind of lonely by herself. She tried though, God love her.

    The judges were kind of awful. They seem like nice people but they were never good at describing their thought processes or how things tasted. “Jaysus. That’s lovely. That’s gorgeous. That’s beautiful” from Paul or “so moist!” from Biddy. Over and over. British and Australian versions had much, much better judges. The sad thing is that Paul was able to articulate things and gave good tips about baking in his solo bits.

    I say this knowing that anything I’d prepare would look like it had been dragged across the floor, but the standard of presentation seemed much lower than British or Australian versions. Maybe the cakes in the semi final and final tasted nice but they looked awful. That lighthouse with the buttercream smeared all over it! That hideous Belgian flag inspired cake. And what was the story with the cereal on the gingerbread castle?!? More cake wrecks than bake off.

    Still-I’d be happy to help judge the next one. I mean-for the good of the contestants, obviously. Not for selfish (hungry) reasons.

  3. I did really like Anna but I agree that she was a bit lost on her own.

    Imagine serving up gingerbread with shreddies to Paul Hollywood!

  4. I’m watching an old series of it on Good Food at the moment (the joys of maternity leave and night feeds) and a recent challenge was to bake two varieties of bread rolls and a basket to display them.

    • Oh fun! I’ve just started streaming season 2 online. Watched the Australian version on YouTube too. British is my favourite still I think.

      (I have no excuse though. I’ve just gotten addicted)

  5. There’s an Australian version? Excellent! I’m already hooked on the Australian Masterchef.

  6. I think Lily Higgins would be a better judge than presenter.