The Great British Bake Off: The Roaring Twenties
September 26, 2019 2:16 PM - Season 10, Episode 5 - Subscribe

The challenges inspired by the roaring twenties include a slapstick Signature and a tiered Showstopper special (Channel 4 description).

For the signature challenge, the bakers were tasked to produce 4 custard pies which should be elaborately decorated with the theme of the 1920s. For the technical challenge, the bakers faced a difficult challenge set by Prue of deep-frying choux pastry to produce 18 Beignet Soufflés filled with raspberry jam and served with a zabaglione. For the showstopper challenge, the bakers were tasked to create a prohibition cocktail cake, with at least two tiers, in memory of the prohibition era in the United States. (Wikipedia description.)
posted by PearlRose (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it just me or are the cakes just sort of hitting obnoxious heights in recent seasons? I mean OK it can't just be a pan cake with buttercream frosting, sure, but good lord some of those were a full 60cm tall.

I'll miss Michelle and Helena - ok Helena was definitely a bit hit and miss (even though I loved how single-minded she was in design), but I thought Michelle had been fairly consistent up until this episode.
posted by Kyol at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

I jinxed Helena. I was just commenting on how much I like her attitude and then this happens. Well she took it very well. I will miss Michelle's welsh themed bakes.

I did love the comment about how rabbits want to die. All I could think is "She needs to make a watership down cake."

Oh and I think this is the first Hollywood Handshake of the season. As I recall last season Paul was handing them out all over the place. And this season he is VERY stingy with them.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:12 AM on September 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Booo, I’m gonna miss Helena.
posted by rewil at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

Michael got a handshake in bread week for his tear-and-share circular twisty bake with the red, remember? But yeah, it does seem like there are a lot more flops and a lot fewer successful bakes. Probably why there are fewer handshakes.
posted by fancyoats at 2:36 PM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

"[Alcohol] was only sold by gangsters like Al Capone."

Well, that' interesting interpretation.

This was a frustrating episode in a lot of ways. After all the teasing of a double elimination, the ones they chose this week to really do it to seemed...strange choices for this particular moment.

I like Rosie, she often makes really cool stuff and she's a vet! But I can't understand most of what she says, she talks so damn fast with that English clench-jaw thing. Thank god for closed captions, I guess. I'm worried for Michael's emotional health.
posted by emcat8 at 7:56 PM on September 27, 2019

I will miss Helena too.

I was kind of surprised that David had never made choux pastry before. My impression of him is someone with a solid grounding in the basics. I could understand if he'd tried it a few times but wasn't particularly good at it, but total inexperience seemed odd.

Kind of confused about the complaint about the coconut in Michelle's cake. At first I thought Paul was saying that there shouldn't be actual coconut in the cake. That seemed odd, since I'm pretty sure Paul has eaten quite a few cakes with coconut over the course of the show. I looked at Steph's pina colada cake recipe and it does have some real coconut in there, so I'm guessing Paul was complaining about the texture of the coconut rather than its presence in the cake? Maybe I was just tired but it seemed unclear.

I'm worried for Michael's emotional health.

It was hard for me to watch him in the technical, and apparently Michael himself found it hard to watch too, as he says in this twitter thread:

hey kids, let's talk about anxiety. watching last night's episode was uncomfortable but mainly it showed me that I can do things even though (and especially when) I think I can't.

He said after the technical that just getting through the damned thing was the only thing that mattered. And he was right, since Helena's 1st place couldn't save her and David's last place didn't put him at the bottom of the pack or even in the middle of the pack.

I don't know how he'll handle the challenges yet to be aired, but it looks to me that with some time and distance from Bake Off, he's got a positive attitude and a sense of humor.
posted by creepygirl at 9:45 PM on September 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

We were stunned by this weeks double-exit, particularly in respect of Helena. However, on reflection, I wonder if her weakness was that she was something of a one-note baker. Yes, it's nice if your creations reflect your personality and style, but I suspect the judges were beginning to wonder if she could ever get out of that channel.

Now, this need not be fatal - in some ways, Helena was very reminiscent of Kim-Joy last year (and I wonder if she was picked for the tent in the hope of being another Kim-Joy?) But Kim-Joy's bakes, whilst often eccentric in a way that was very characteristic of her, were a bit wider in range than Helena's. I think there's a lesson for future GBBO bakers here: be yourself, especially if you can do so in a distinctive way, but don't come across as only being able to be yourself.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:54 AM on September 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Whaaaaaat? I don't understand this week's exit either. How did they make these decisions? Helena won the technical!
posted by Anonymous at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2019

Helena’s signature and showstopper both didn’t taste very good. That’s... bad.
posted by Automocar at 7:33 AM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

The editing didn’t sell a consistent story vs the comments Priya got. It’s concerning, going for shock/surprise/unpredictability. Please don’t pivot toward American sensibilities, show.
posted by rewil at 8:17 AM on September 28, 2019 [7 favorites]

I also feel like in the past, if there were somewhat close or surprising results, they'd have a clip of the judges explaining their reasoning afterwards. Like way back in Series 3, after Ryan got Star Baker after finishing last in the technical, Paul and Mary talked about how his key lime pie was one of the best thing they'd had on the entire series so far (and Mary said she was going to go home and make it, which seems like far more rare praise than the stupid over-hyped handshake). So we got the message that the judges thought that pie was extraordinary. Or when Nadiya stayed on the show despite a vol au vent disaster, Paul said something like "her flavors saved her." We got reminded that even though her vol au vents looked bad, at the end of the day, things still had to taste good; otherwise this might as well be a show about architecture.

Now we're just hearing cryptic stuff like "it was close," which doesn't really give us much insight on the judges' mindset.
posted by creepygirl at 12:30 PM on September 28, 2019 [8 favorites]

Yeah, I was sure that Priya and Rosie were going home. I like them both, but Priya in particular has been really inconsistent, and Rosie had a bad week. I was surprised to be completely wrong.

I do kind of want to make a custard pie, though...
posted by suelac at 10:35 PM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

My husband and I were talking about how bad the editing has been this series. They seem to be spending a lot more time on things like Noel's jokes (note, I love Noel; I'm American and I'd never seen him before bake-off but I love him) and poor Michael, and just things that aren't baking or judging. Last week, during the mishti judging, they only told us how Henry's melted mishti was and didn't discuss the balls he made except to make balls jokes during the discussion of who might stay or go. Did they taste good? Beats me! Sometimes, we don't even hear what Prue thinks about a bake, especially during the showstopper. Paul says a lot and looks steely-eyed and then that's it, on to the next baker. They spend so little time on baking, compared to earlier series, that I sometimes forget what people made in the signature by the time we get to the showstopper. I had to go on Twitter before I remembered that Helena used too much lavender in the signature.

Priya's also getting a weird edit. Are we supposed to all hate her? Because she seems lovely, but they make it look like she's terrible and there's some kind of fix in to keep her. I was also annoyed about the judging of her mishti. Paul and Prue said they weren't colorful enough, which was ridiculous. There was plenty of color there. Also, their "let me tell you how the sweets you have repeatedly said that you love and are a part of your culture and taste great don't look the way we think they should" was garbage.

Apparently I have feelings.
posted by ceejaytee at 4:40 AM on September 29, 2019 [13 favorites]

Agreed that something's off with the editing. Noel was fine last season series (for me) but is coming across as rambly, annoying, and unfunny this time; I keep thinking wait, that was the best/funniest thing they could get him saying? They left *that* in the final edit? How much worse were all the things they cut?

And occasionally oh, fuck off and leave the poor baker alone, Noel, something I never thought during his first series.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:36 AM on September 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm seriously startled by David having never made choux pastry before - I guess if he had found out there was an upcoming eclairs challenge he would have learned it then? It seems like one of the things you had to know. And then did Henry say this was his first layer cake or something like that?
posted by PussKillian at 2:35 PM on September 29, 2019

Yeah, there's at least 3-4 things I think I could at least semi-successfully wing on account of having seen enough GBBO, given a set of ingredients. Now, whether I'd get the wrong merengue or the wrong kind of pastry dough, sure.
posted by Kyol at 7:16 PM on September 29, 2019

This seems like it’s been three particularly brutal themes in a row: bread is always a rough week, and then dairy? and then roaring 20s?? I feel a little like let’s get back to BAKING! Agree with what everyone else is saying about the strange edits—Priya was barely in the last episode, for instance.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:17 PM on September 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I must have missed something why so many pina colada cakes? That isn't even a signature 20s cocktail, its more 1970s. For 1920s, I would think Sidecar, Bee's Knees, or a Mary Pickford. Hell, I would even go for a classic Aviation (mm, creme de violette!) over a pina colada. What gives?
posted by happyroach at 11:04 PM on September 29, 2019 [7 favorites]

The bakers are all 12, so history isn't their strong suit?
posted by Kyol at 5:40 AM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]

I didn't see either of the bakers who left going this week, so I was completely surprised. I don't really watch GBBO to be surprised, so that was...disappointing.
posted by xingcat at 8:13 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

The theme was really weird. It also opens the door to lots of random things. Future Week! Baking Powder Week! Upside Down Week! WACKY WEEK! Anyway, the possibilities are endless, unfortunately.

This is still the season for me where 4 has settled in and made this its own, and I’m not digging it nearly as much.
posted by hijinx at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

why so many pina colada cakes?

I trawled through wikipedia's lists of bakes for previous series and did a control-F for "colada":

Series 2
Jason made a pina colada macaron for the Showstopper (one of three "mocktail" flavors) and was named co-Star Baker that week.

Series 4:
Christine made Caribbean Pina Colada Trifle for her Signature and was named Star Baker that week.

Series 6:
Mat made a Pina Colada Frangipane Tart for his Signature and was named Star Baker that week.

Series 7:
Benjamina made a Pina Colada Roulade for her Signature and was one of the judges' favorite bakers that week, but was not named Star Baker.

Series 9:
Jon made a Hawaiian Shirt Pina Colada Cake for his Showstopper and was one of the favorite bakers that week, but was not named SB. In a different week, Ruby made a Pina Colada Roulade for her Signature and made it to the next round.

I think it's fair to say that Paul will definitely reward a well-done pina colada-flavored bake. Prue has less of a history than Paul, but she didn't seem to penalize Jon or Ruby for their pina colada bakes. With more obscure cocktails, you run the risk of the judges being grossed out by some of the ingredients on their own, or by the combination of the flavors. Pina colada is a safe choice.
posted by creepygirl at 11:19 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

This week's technical was even worse than last week's; one shot had a glimpse of the half page of directions. It seemed that everyone was winging it. It felt very unfair, especially because the producers (according to a Radio Times article a kind MeFite sent me) survey the candidates and have a really good idea of their experience.

At least the fake drama of "two bakers could leave" is over.

Happyroach, I would have *totally* made an aviation bake, or a gold rush (bee's knees with bourbon). I think the bakers chose flavors they were familiar and comfortable with. And Michelle had made that cake before, she said.
posted by JawnBigboote at 4:35 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I totally disagree that the technical was unfair or unusually rigorous--they're meant to be tough and there are always a few failures going back years. Last week's technical was a shitshow, but I would never step in that tent without knowing how to do choux pastry, and I think it's totally legit to ask contestants in a bake-off to make something like this with minimal direction.

I guess ideally the technical would be something that the top one or two contestants would be able to make nearly perfectly, but show separation between the top contestants and the less accomplished bakers. This time the top ones were only pretty good, so I guess it's not one of the better technical challenges, but it seems perfectly fair to me.

I think dropping two this week was good, to avoid the cheap drama, and also because everybody had been given enough time to establish themselves and get used to baking under tent-filming conditions, and no use keeping extra people around who don't have a realistic shot at winning. And to met to me it sounded like that was the explanation for Helena and Michelle, it was based not on that one weekend but in general they had fallen behind. I think they're giving Priya and Rosie credit for being inconsistently good over Helena and Michelle showing less upside. And I agree with that, at this point it seemed really unlikely that either of them were in the running for the even the semifinals, whereas if Priya or Rosie can become more consistent, they have the potential for some spectacular stuff (Rosie in particular, I think).

Also I really like Noel, though I don't think he's particularly funny, or at least his humor on the show is not the kind of thing that makes me laugh. I felt the same way about Mel though, and she was the best.

Just wanted to put something out there as someone who has seen every season (even the very uneven first season) and still likes the show a lot.
posted by skewed at 8:21 AM on October 1, 2019 [8 favorites]

Really bummed at those two leaving. I wouldn't say that I liked Helena, but I liked watching her, if that distinction makes sense, and she seemed to be a talented baker. Michelle was my absolute favorite, and one of my favorites of all time. Such a great attitude and sense of humor. She seems like she would be a great Mom Friend. I was so fucking proud of Michael for digging in and getting that challenge done. His comment of "I can do anything for five minutes" is one I learned a little while ago and has been so helpful. You do it for five minutes, and then do it for another five minutes, and so on until you are done.

I absolutely think Rosie should have gone home this week. I know the dropped tart was bad luck, but she really didn't complete that challenge at all. I say this despite wanting desperately to support anyone in the veterinary field - her comment about rabbits just wanting to die is a standard refrain, and I love the fact that she felt she had to specify that the horse syringes she used for those really cool floral jellies (such a shame they melted) were new. I also think that her biscuit chicken was one of the most impressive creations I've ever seen on the show, but I think she was much worse than Michelle this week.

> miss-lapin: As I recall last season Paul was handing them out all over the place. And this season he is VERY stingy with them.

I think he must have gotten a note (or realized it himself) that it was becoming too much of a thing.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:43 AM on October 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

I saw this reading the threads over at Primetimer, and couldn't remember if it got posted here, but two former contestants and a host are doing The Bake Down about the bake off. It's fun getting behind-the-scenes details. (For what it's worth, both contestants, while very reluctant to make any negative statements about the current contestants, felt that people should go on the show knowing how to do choux.)

I'm going to miss Helena.
posted by PussKillian at 1:53 PM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Guardian: 'I've never seen tent rage like it!' How Bake Off lost its way
"It used to be a respite from the cruelty of reality TV – but impossible technicals, mean comments and a needless double-dumping are spoiling the mix."
posted by dnash at 9:18 AM on October 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think Helena was done in for non-baking reasons. Thanks to her poker playing past (!), she could not be flustered by the judges and refused to bend the knee. I hope the final episode of the series features her raiding the tent, a Flayed Gingerbread Man banner hanging high over her spooky octopus crown.

That Guardian article resonates with me - Bake Off is supposed to be a calming experience where the most stress you feel is over whether or not dough rises enough. Instead we have weird themes, arcane technicals, at least one baker who is always almost literally on fire, and judges more interested in building their brand than anything else. Paul has devolved into a caricature of himself and Pru has really stepped up her jerk game which is not something we need. I wonder if that's why there are no sweet old grandmas this go around - making MeeMaw cry is still, thankfully, beyond the pale.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:42 PM on October 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

I was trying to figure out how to make a Bloody Mary themed cake with that one canned tomato soup chocolate cake recipe. I dont think it’s doable
posted by bq at 10:58 PM on October 2, 2019

This season of Bake-Off isn't working as well for me. Perhaps it is the editing that is leaving me confused as to who is really doing the best (or the worst). I miss the judges telling us why they were making their decisions, I miss the little history sessions, Noel seems to be fixated on telling sex jokes about Paul Hollywood. Additionally Paul and Sandi both seem colder and meaner in their comments and Prue doesn't even seem to be a real presence.

Is this all down to editing?

I'm usually sad to see the Bakers go home, but at least I usually get why its happening - that is not the case the last two episodes. Well to be fare, I've been confused by the judging since last season (I don't get why Rahul won at all)

I'll continue to watch, but I feel the changes that have come with the production's move have been getting worse and worse.
posted by Julnyes at 8:19 AM on October 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

Apparently the ratings are the lowest they've ever been, so clearly something isn't working. However, the production company has all that Netflix money now, so maybe they don't care.
posted by Automocar at 10:03 AM on October 3, 2019

Apparently the ratings are the lowest they've ever been, so clearly something isn't working.

I think the core "ingredients" of the show: the bakers, are what's not working for me. I would put that blame on whoever is in charge of choosing the mix of personalities, not the character of the individuals themselves.

Yes, the "competition" in this show is mild compared other reality shows, but it's still a competition and we're now half-way through it and I'm neither rooting for anyone in particular, nor am I rooting for anyone to lose.

Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw, or again, a person behind the scenes who made subpar choices about the mix of personalities and skill level, but the group dynamic is just not compelling for me this year.

I think a lot of what others are noting: editing, goofy jokes, the tougher challenges, etc. can be seen as the producer's compensatory behavior to make up for the lack of character interest.
posted by jeremias at 3:03 PM on October 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh I am so in line with that Guardian article linked to above (thank you, dnash).

So disappointed with the mood that I forgot to watch last week's episode until Saturday. What is up with these skits? People could be baking.

Outlandish bakes I would never want to eat! Erratic judging and cruel remarks. I was so pleased when, I believe it was Phil (in the episode he departed) turned to Noel and said (I'm paraphrasing but I'm damn close): "Mate, get out of my way!" This is something I am frequently yelling from my armchair. The bakers are fighting the clock, do the hosts not get that or is their job to obstruct for... fun?

This is the series I turn to for de-stressing. Yes, I know it's a competition but for quite a long time it was a jolly competition with likable people and bakes I attempted at home. Now I am just annoyed.

Save Henry!! And somebody please make a Madeira cake, please. Thank you, sorry for the rant.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 11:50 AM on October 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

In terms of Noel getting in the way, remember when the hosts used to do things like help the contestants? I sure do. It's great the contestants still help each other (one of the things I love of GBBO) but it was also lovely that the hosts would do little things to help as well and not just make jokes. (Although the rabbits want to die line still makes me laugh. Mainly because I joined a FB forum last year because I was thinking abut getting rabbits and holy crap! How do these creatures survive AT ALL?)
posted by miss-lapin at 12:14 PM on October 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, usually by this point I have a fairly good grip on what the remaining bakers are good at, what their personalities are, what they're weak at, etc, and I'm starting to cheer them along or wait for the low performer to finally meet their match.

This year, though, ech. Not so much. Either the editing hasn't or the challenges they've been presented with haven't done a good job of making really _anyone_ particularly memorable. I can sort of put a face to a name from the wiki list, but mostly only by remembering their jobs and then going back to the first couple of episodes.
posted by Kyol at 1:25 PM on October 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, usually by this point I have a fairly good grip on what the remaining bakers are good at, what their personalities are, what they're weak at, etc, and I'm starting to cheer them along or wait for the low performer to finally meet their match.

This year, though, ech. Not so much. Either the editing hasn't or the challenges they've been presented with haven't done a good job of making really _anyone_ particularly memorable. I can sort of put a face to a name from the wiki list, but mostly only by remembering their jobs and then going back to the first couple of episodes.

Wasn't there more backstory included in the episodes also? I feel like they had more videos of them with their family, little bits about their interests other than baking? Or am I imagining that?
posted by peacheater at 1:23 PM on October 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

You definitely weren't imagining that. It's why we had a better sense of who the bakers are. I don't know if they cut that for budgetary reasons, but it's a pretty key element to the show.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:49 PM on October 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I was sure that Priya and Rosie were going home.

I caught up on the past two seasons over Christmas break, and while I enjoyed the previous season, this one isn't working for me at all, and choosing to send Helena and Michelle over Priya (and possibly Rosie) was just baffling.

Priya was in the bottom 2-3 in almost every previous episode - and she's not fun to watch. Rosie was doing quite a bit better but she seems like a real crab.

Michelle and Helena had both performed much stronger than Priya, in every previous episode and even in this episode. I think Michelle did hit the "making a version of my family's traditional X" one time too many in this episode with the rice pudding but she had the potential to grow out of that. And did they feel like Helena was pulling too much focus from the judges and was just too charming and professional to be allowed.

I'm very very disappointed and I'm not sure I'll finish out this season, since I don't really like any of the remaining contestants very much. Priya didn't even have a typical humble interview about thinking she would go home and feeling like a mistake had been made! Ugh.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 2:40 PM on January 2, 2020

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