Remember the summer of 2014? Germany won the World Cup, Spain appointed a new King and the British public exploded over treachery in the Bake Off tent. The infamous scandal concerned the bearded Iain Watters, who dumped his melted baked Alaska in the bin claiming sabotage by rival contestant “Dirty Diana” Beard. His #bingate strop made front-page news and earned Watters a slot on Newsnight. Quite the furore over a bit of cake.
Well, there was similar scandal afoot in the second episode of this year’s The Great British Bake Off (Channel 4) when French girl Manon turned the air blue during a stressful Showstopper challenge, causing producers to deploy the bleep censor. Swearing on the Bake Off? Pardon your French, Manon, but we’ll have none of that on such a tranquil and wholesome family show.
Hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding were quick to scorn her, but it’s shock moments such as these that truly capture what Bake Off is all about, allowing the viewer to delight in the schadenfreude of a collapsed sponge or melted icing.
There was further drama on Cake Week, which unfortunately fell on one of the hottest days of the year. “Nobody should be dealing with chocolate on a day like today,” announced Leith with a smirk as the bakers were set a two-tier chocolate collar cake showstopper. The searing summer heat saw tempers frazzle and tears flow.
Yorkshire Karen was more upset than a wet weekend over her raw Monet cake (another fiendish challenge by Leith, who’s becoming more forthright by the day, involving spinach purée and some delicate knife skills), Terry’s Eiffel Tower looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and DJ Luke threw in the tea towel (and was sent packing) after serving up cake “as tough as old boots”.
Fielding tried his best to keep spirits high by dressing up as Marie Antoinette, but it was Hollywood, giving out handshakes like an over-eager salesman, that brought order back to the tent. After running such a hellish gauntlet, the contestants deserved to have their cake and eat it.