Week Two in the Bake Off tent, and the remaining contestants have to risk it with their biscuits to have a chance of winning the title of Star Baker. Val is currently indestructible, even if her bakes are not, while Tom and Michael are both coming across like the kind of young men who never survive the third reel of a Friday The 13th sequel. Meanwhile, watching serenely over them all, and no doubt the subject of a million piping bag dreams, is Selasi.
Oh, Selasi. Have you seen the way he twirls his pastry scissors around his fingers like a GODAMNNED GUNFIGHTER? This week, he was finishing his challenge ages before anybody else and watching calmly as almost everyone else (and their bakes) collapsed into a brittle mess. When the chocolate chip cookies are down, he’ll survive until the final week before being unfairly booted off, leaving a distraught nation to fondly reminisce about how he handled his rolling pin. Perhaps his soothing tones (‘Don’t stress, don’t stress’) could be downloaded as an app.
The first challenge this week is to make 24 biscuits. Candice ends up doing exactly double that, and such going the distance is doubtless going to serve her well in the future. Meanwhile, Louise makes 24 sheep, the counting of which apparently puts her to sleep as they end up on the floor, which can be best described as shear misfortune.
Mel is on her own this week (finally ending the confusion in your household about which is Mel, and which is Sue) and has fun demanding the technical challenge: ‘Viennese whhhurrrls’, she, uh, whirls, resurrecting the accent she employed for The Sound Of Music Live. ‘Do you need a pair of warm hands,’ she asks Rav. ‘Either on your bag or on you?’ There’s a carefully considered pause before Rav responds in a voice that sounds ever so slightly scared.
Louise doesn’t do at all well in the Technical Challenge, but takes it stoically. ‘Tomorrow has got to go better, because ..’ She can’t finish the sentence, opting to laugh instead. Well, if you can’t laugh ..
In the final Showstopper Challenge, the tent begins to smell like aversion therapy for Hansel And Gretel, as the bakers are required to construct a gingerbread story. Val builds New York, which is perfectly acceptable up until the Statue Of Liberty’s head drops off. Unfortunately, she doesn’t try to pass it off as a tribute to Cloverfield. Louise peppers her creation with gravestones, which is the sort of omen-baiting that suggests she hasn’t seen a single Final Destination movie.
Everyone gets somewhat too ambitious, and it doesn’t help that there’s a kitchen timer beeping every three seconds, almost as if the tent has been converted into the headquarters of CTU. (although, the image of Jack Bauer failing at a Victoria Sponge is a seductive one: ‘Godammit, Chloe!’) With not much time left, one of the walls of Candice’s biscuit boozer falls over like a comedy drunk. She keeps the resultant swears behind firmly closed (and fashionably painted) lips. But if you can keep your gingerbread while all around are losing theirs, then the chances are good that you’ll be the Star Baker.
Kate, Mel and Mary have a bonding session over the Brownie salute, Kate promising to do her very best. Paul seems left out, not even showing any interest when Mel asks if he has anything to say on the subject of Beavers. Michael has constructed his gingerbread story on his childhood memory of meeting Santa Claus, a mere ten years ago, hereby depressing the nations viewers as they realise that ten years is about the amount of time that’s passed since they last picked up that Nigel Slater book they bought with such good intentions.
When it’s time to present their gingerbread edifices, everyone is doubtful that they can keep theirs up (and that innuendo you can have for free). Andrew has the least distance to walk (do they swap people around each week, to keep these things fair?) and is told that his gingerbread reminds Paul of the gingerbread his mother used to make. ‘In a good way?’ Andrew asks nervously. Later, Paul tells Rav that his gingerbread is the best that he’s ever tasted, so it’s fair to assume that Paul and his mum are going to have a terse conversation later.
Louise’s offering of a gingerbread church collapses (perhaps she should’ve swapped one of the gravestones for one of those thermometer fundraisers to try and replace the church roof), while Candice fares much better with the testament to her youth. ‘That pub was brilliant,’ Mary enthuses. ‘We’ll remember it forever’. Or, at least until it’s converted into a Tesco Metro. ‘Can you come and grab my jugs please?’ Candice asks. A nation stops to engage on Twitter, but are stopped in their tracks by Mary’s next line: ‘I could eat a bit of carpet.’ The silence that follows is a nation of daughters and mothers awkwardly wondering if they’re required to explain the gag.
So Candice wins Star Baker, while Lou loses. It’s fair to assume that the Tom and Michael are not long for this bake, while Benjamina could be the one to watch for now (and, yes, we’re going to change our bets every week. So sue us). Jane’s experience as a garden designer means that she’s a keeper (for now), and the same applies to Andrew, the aerospace engineer. Although it was a pity that he didn’t attempt a gingerbread large hadron collider. Ah, well. There’s always next week.