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In other matters

...I hope it is not an indication of age that I prefer The Great British Bake-Off to The Borgias. The former has got to be the most British of TV programmes; a baking contest presided over by Mary Berry. If you've been watching you will know she's the queen of baking and very renowned and respected, as the contestants were endlessly reminded;

'And it must be so daunting to have Mary judging you,'
Right answer:'Oh yes, no, I wouldn't want to let Mary down...'
Wrong answer: 'Who the fudge is Mary?'

It involves a little bit of food history, the man who baked Churchill's 80th birthday cake, including a decoration on the side referring to Winnie's expertise in bricklaying; the origin of the cup cake stemming from, er, cups, the background of the battenburg, that sort of thing. I watch with the awe of a child who could never boil eggs, never mind bake a proper cake. The whole thing is almost anal in its precision (the cup cake mixture must not spill out over the cake case apparently. What happens if it does? Does it automatically qualify as a muffin or something?) But the judging is so gentle...'One of you has not impressed the judges enough to go onto the next round...'

My favourite bit, of which I am desperate to find a proper transcript*, was an exchange between a wildly enthusiastic presenter and a young man with earrings, the latter attempting to make a Thomas the Tank Engine Cake. Said cake was decorated with green icing, to represent the verdure of the valleys, on which the baker was going to create train tracks plus a tunnel out of which Thomas would emerge.

'A tunnel!' squeaked the presenter, 'A real tunnel?'
'No,' said the young man, eyeballing her with a look of wonder, 'A cake tunnel.'
'A cake tunnel!' She echoed happily, 'Not a real tunnel, of course, a cake tunnel.' She tried not to seem crestfallen. Cake tunnel yes. Cake is what the show is about. Berry is judging, Brunel must wait.

As it turned out, the young man may as well have been digging a real tunnel for all the good it did; his efforts were deemed poorest. It's never fun to come last but it must be particularly galling when 'last' means behind even the guy who threw a layer of his cake on the floor. But there was something so heartening about the way everyone leapt in to help rescue the wreckage, and the judges gallantly tasted the scraped remnants, only to announce that it was delicious.

And the Borgias? Oh, someone got stiffed and the pope got a new mistress. Woteva.

*recorded here as precisely as I remember


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 17th, 2011 12:33 pm (UTC)

We enjoyed it too

Aug. 17th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
It's sweet isn't it? I can't quite work out why I'm so taken with it, considering my distaste for all things kitchen centred. larians and I tried to make a cake together once. The result was, um, unforgettable.
Aug. 17th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
Y'see I rather like both programmes - totally different types of entertainment.

I loved watching The GBBO last year, so was delighted to hear of its return last night. The standard of some of the contestants is awesome. The show's also good for learning stuff about why some cakes turn out better than others. (I learned all about overbeating cake mix last year.)

Ultimately though, if my cupcake mix runneth over I care not provided it tastes good... and that is why I would never go on a show like that. ;o)
Aug. 17th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
And there I was thinking you'd be a natural for it - only I don't know what the prize is and if it would be worth all the grief! One phantom of last year' series that continues to haunt me was the chocolate cake decorated like a forest floor - all confectionary mushrooms and leaves! I so wanted it! This year there was something about butter and eggs curdling if they aren't at the same temperature, and sprinkling in flour to amend it. But as you are going to add flour anyway, doesn't it mean you just carry on and the curdling isn't important?

The whole thing is so methodical and exact it does my head in!
Aug. 17th, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC)
You might regret asking...
I forget what the curdling does, but it's something negative.

Also, the eggs are beaten into the creamed sugar and fat, whereas the flour is then folded into that batter. Beating a little of the flour into the curdling bit will hopefully bring it back in line and thus allow the baker to fold in the remaining flour. Beating in all the flour will take the air out of the mix and result in a flat cake.

That is unless you're following a different kind of sponge recipe, when the rules change.

I'll stop now, shall I? ;o)

It's the exact and methodical that I like about baking, and eating the outcome too, of course.

As an aside, someone else tried to point me at the competition last year, but I know my theory isn't good enough to withstand the technical tests. Add to that I'm not great on perfecting the appearance and I'm not really suited to the kind of scrutiny the judges put the food under.
Aug. 18th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
Re: You might regret asking...
Thank you for this. One day I will try to make a cake for us all, on the understanding that no-one is to valiantly make a go of eating it if it's horrible!

I admit, I have great faith in your baking, but even more in your unflappability under stress and ability to create wonders in awful conditions. But would it be enjoyable for you? There I'm not so sure.

Hoping to catch up in September:-)
Aug. 18th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
Igh can resyst everything except temptation and cake.
Aug. 18th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
My mum was never into baking, which may have saved me from a lot of puppy fat; Mr Kipling never impressed me much. Now that I've been introduced to fine cakeage, my waist line is constantly under threat.

As for temptation...let's not go there!
Aug. 19th, 2011 11:07 am (UTC)
Mygh weighst dis:appeared many years a:goe. Knowe how igh can get it back?
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )



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