The Great British Bake Off: Week 1: Cake
September 22, 2020 5:30 PM - Season 11, Episode 1 - Subscribe

IT'S HERE! After six weeks in a bubble the beloved baking show is back with a brand new batch of bakers. Week 1 brings Battenbergs, Bromeliaceae, and . . . busts? Airs on Channel 4 in the UK on Tuesdays and on Netflix in the US on Fridays.

The bakers seem delightful this year and Matt and Noel appear to have real chemistry. I thought the bust challenge was difficult but the results were hilarious (in the most good-natured sense).

also if you are not in the UK and want day-of episodes you might check /r/uktvland
posted by schroedinger (52 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
OK I'm only nine minutes in but I have an enormous crush on Lottie already
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:32 PM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]


The Guardian's liveblog of the episode. Contains spoilers and a lot of affectionate snarking.

Context for non-UK viewers: the episode was pushed back at the last minute to allow live coverage of the Prime Minister's public address on the latest COVID-19 measures. Since that happened with only a few hours' notice Matt Lucas' intro sketch was either astonishing prescient or the quickest parody I've ever seen. (The presence of Prue and Paul makes me suspect the former.)
posted by Major Clanger at 1:27 AM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]


God, some of those head-cakes gave me an enormous case of the giggles. Once I started I just couldn’t stop. But actually, considering it was week one, they could have been significantly worse.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:42 AM on September 23, 2020


Yes, Lottie is freakin' amazing.
posted by schroedinger at 8:58 AM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]


This Guardian ranking of the busts kills me.
posted by schroedinger at 3:20 PM on September 23, 2020 [10 favorites]


“You instantly recognise who it is,” said Paul Hollywood, the absolute liar.

My thoughts almost to a word.

I thought the Darwin was pretty good. Bowie definitely would have benefited from an abstract take like Darwin/Bob Marley since the colors alone make it so recognizable.

I thought Matt Lucas was great, and while Sandi was fantastic and I miss her energy, the chemistry felt like it didn't miss a beat.

I can't read the Telegraph article, but found this one. Six weeks for ten (?) episodes sounds like a lot-- two days on, two days off I imagine. And the days "off" are just practice-baking in an ersatz "bake-off tent" in a parking lot? Oof.
posted by supercres at 3:49 PM on September 23, 2020


The cake bust challenge was just insanely cruel. When I watch the show I often ponder how I'd approach each challenge, but for this one my mind kept shutting down. I'm so happy the show is back, though!
posted by Rora at 7:28 PM on September 23, 2020


The cake bust challenge was just insanely cruel. When I watch the show I often ponder how I'd approach each challenge, but for this one my mind kept shutting down.

The most successful contestants picked celebrities with a few noteworthy and simple-to-render features, things that would indicate who the person was even if you stuck them on a smiley face. Personally I might have gone with Groucho Marx.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:58 PM on September 23, 2020


also if you are not in the UK and want day-of episodes you might check /r/uktvland

It aired Tuesday at 8:15pm GMT, so it was over at 3:15pm CST where I live. I've been looking in all of the usually places for a source since then. Finally found one just a few hours ago. Anyone know what gives? They're generally available an hour or so after it airs.
posted by tzikeh at 10:42 PM on September 23, 2020


I have been wondering if here, in the US, we would get our annual GBBS; but trying not to fuss because ... pandemic. But with this OP, it seems there is hope!!

I can't wait to check Netflix on Friday! Thank you for posting. :)
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 12:56 AM on September 24, 2020


Predictably, my early fave is Peter, because I have never met a perpetually flushed, ridiculously youthful baking prodigy that I didn't love immediately and utterly. My favorite stock GBBO character by a long shot.
posted by merriment at 4:39 AM on September 24, 2020 [9 favorites]


My favorite stock GBBO character by a long shot.

Ah I was wondering why I was so impressed with Rowan ("temple" Battenburg, Marie Antoinette) and now that you say that I think it's because the meticulous older gentleman with grand plans that he can't execute on is usually the first one gone, but here he acquitted himself pretty well. Still a pretty good bet for early exit unless he can pare down.
posted by supercres at 7:57 AM on September 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it seems like maybe this year we're missing the grandmotherly type who has been baking her whole life and executes well but sort of fails to break out of their conditioning.

And I'm curious how much being in a bubble is going to affect things - on the one hand they have more time to practice their planned bakes because they're quarantined in a parking lot kitchen with nothing else to do, on the other hand they don't have their usual tasters to make suggestions.
posted by Kyol at 8:27 AM on September 24, 2020 [3 favorites]


I am hoping for the lady who walked her black cat, Ghost, on a leash. (I will manage to remember the names maybe when there are 4 or 5 left.)

Super curious how this will work -- usually the bakers bring in weird shapers their father made for them, or their sister's backyard honey, or whatever local thing. How long did they have between filming episodes? Did they all get their own kitchen with any supplies they wanted?
posted by jeather at 12:05 PM on September 24, 2020


Super curious how this will work -- usually the bakers bring in weird shapers their father made for them, or their sister's backyard honey, or whatever local thing. How long did they have between filming episodes? Did they all get their own kitchen with any supplies they wanted?

It was two days on, two days off, and they did all get practice kitchens. This article has some info:

Producers set up practice kitchens for the bakers during filming.

“It was really interesting, because at first glance you think it would be much more difficult for the bakers,” suggests Leith.

“But when you think that, in a normal situation, they are probably at work, they don’t get home until 6/7 in the evening, and then they’re practising all evening, and then they’re going to work the next day and they’ve got children underfoot and a hundred responsibilities.

“In the bubble, they had nothing to think about except baking. It was jolly tough for them because, when we had two days off between filming, I would lie on a beanbag in the sun and do nothing, but those bakers, even in a heatwave, were baking all the time.”

posted by showbiz_liz at 12:49 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


I loved the episode and thanks to reddit, I could watch the next day. Peter is my favorite--so adorable and off to such a good start. His Boris Johnson was excellent and he seemed so sweet, especially when he blamed his beauty for distracting Sura and causing the accidental destruction.

The celebrity bust challenge made me laugh until I cried. And it was all so casual and happy, like the best Bake Off always is. I really needed this episode.
posted by ceejaytee at 2:18 PM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


Finally found one just a few hours ago. Anyone know what gives? They're generally available an hour or so after it airs.

It was up on UKTVLAND maybe a few hours after airing. Not sure when it made it anywhere else, though.
posted by schroedinger at 4:01 PM on September 24, 2020


That answers the most obvious of my questions (do they have practice space) but not about how they get their own purpose-made stuff or weird specific ingredients etc. (I'm also very curious about work, but I assume they are just all taking leave.)
posted by jeather at 5:06 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


But when you think that, in a normal situation, they are probably at work, they don’t get home until 6/7 in the evening, and then they’re practising all evening, and then they’re going to work the next day and they’ve got children underfoot and a hundred responsibilities.

I wonder if the quarantine format will actually equalize things more between the contestants. Most years it seems like some bakers are able to get much less practice than others because of life demands. Granted, this year's format would have ruled out people who couldn't afford to take X weeks off, but this way at least if someone hasn't practiced their showstopper it won't be because they had to choose between that and work or family.
posted by trig at 12:18 AM on September 25, 2020 [6 favorites]


As it did last year, the episode hit Netflix in the NYC area (and elsewhere?) around 4 am Friday. I am an insomniac so...

So much laughter on the episode, what a delightful change. And the judging was pleasant, the harshest comment seemed to be "dry sponge" which I know is awful for the bakers to hear, but neither Paul nor Prue went on about it.

I know the atmosphere will tighten up in future episodes but it was nice to not be cringing. I may have just missed it in the credits of other episodes, but there is a psychotherapist listed in the credits.

Prue's voice worried me, seemed very hoarse and kept catching. I didn't realize she is 80 years old.

Anyway I am looking forward to the rest of the series.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 12:19 PM on September 25, 2020 [2 favorites]


Say, for the Brits in the room - is it typical there to top pineapple upside-down cake with whipped cream? I've never seen that done in America, and I'm wondering if it was just an added hurdle to mess with the bakers (since so many of them melted off), or whether it's just traditional.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:40 PM on September 25, 2020 [2 favorites]


No, the whipped cream surprised me too. I've never seen single-serving pineapple upside-down cakes either; between the two things, when I saw photos before I caught up on the episode, I assumed they'd made rum babas. When the pineapple is the whole point, it seems really odd to hide it!
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:11 PM on September 25, 2020 [4 favorites]


I wasn't sure I'd watch the show again after the last season -- the umpteen unfunny 'Sandy in a bag' jokes, the increasing meanness of the judging and ridiculousness of the baking challenges (that pita bread on an outdoor fire one? ugh), but seeing the generally positive comments here I decided to give it a go. So far, so good, I think. Noel still seemed to be being needlessly snarky to the contestants during baking, but, Matt had a pleasant self-deprecating kind of cheerfulness, so maybe they'll balance out better in the long run compared to how Noel and Sandy did.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:08 PM on September 25, 2020 [3 favorites]


ridiculousness of the baking challenges (that pita bread on an outdoor fire one? ugh)

I still think that would have been a great challenge if it had been in like week three, and if they had allowed them to make more practice ones. It was mostly just making it part of the final that felt unfair to me.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:29 PM on September 25, 2020


Paul in particular seemed to be in much lighter spirits than in the past. He wasn't nearly as harsh in his critiques, nor did he seem to loom over the bakers while they worked as he has done previously.
posted by briank at 7:21 PM on September 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


Lottie seems like a combination of Orphan Black clones and I am here for it.

I don't think I've wanted anyone to turn out to be a stealth bad ass as much when that woman said Lupita. It really never was going to turn out well.

I love that someone always comes through with the elderflower. I love it so much and it's rare in the godforsaken americas, like so many things...
posted by provoliminal at 12:01 AM on September 26, 2020 [5 favorites]


I was in the same boat here as oh yeah!; my wife started watching this ep thinking I had no interest. But given These Dumb Times, and my relative dislike of last season, we really both needed some GBBO comfort – and I was willing to give it another shot.

First, Matt Lucas didn't grate on me at all! I'm surprised. And yes, I also noticed everyone seemed to be a little more gentle – wondering how much that had to do with the quarantine and the bubble created during the show.

The head cakes challenge... definitely not quite a straight-up baking challenge (I know, it's a Showstopper), so teetering on the line of a polite Nailed It! and GBBO. But it was enjoyable to watch. Here's hoping to no truly wacky themed weeks this season.
posted by hijinx at 6:45 AM on September 26, 2020 [1 favorite]


The rolls of flesh-colored-fondant were so distressing as to be delightful.

And Lottie's Louis Theroux cake reminded me of nothing but /r/catloaf.
posted by Wulfhere at 9:22 AM on September 26, 2020 [2 favorites]


If anything, this gave me more sympathy for Nailed It! contestants. Sculpturing a head is hard!

(That said, these cakes apparently actually tasted good, and the heads were cake instead of an armature/form/Rice Krispie sculpture, but still! Making faces is hard!)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:26 AM on September 26, 2020


I feel like I would have done ok on the show, and then I saw the heads. Oy. I'm not an artist. Maybe I would have gone for Charlie Brown :)

I've also never put whipped cream on pineapple upside down cake, though I'm sure a bit would be delicious. There was too much on theirs. And most of those caramels seemed too light to me. But I like that bitterness. I've also never made the caramel like they did. I've always started with brown sugar and butter. Maybe that's why the caramel seem so light to me.

I didn't watch last season, so I wasn't familiar with the more negative aspects of it. I did find this episode delightful.

I can't wait for next week.
posted by kathrynm at 9:51 AM on September 26, 2020 [1 favorite]


I wasn't sure I was willing to go back, so much did last season annoy me (I still! STILL seethe over some of the really stupid things that were said), but I found this episode actually pretty fun. I do wish we'd gotten some kind of explanation about the new presenter--I recognize him from things, but it would have fit nicely in with the explanation about the quarantine to know something about it. It was a surprise for some of us.

Don't know who I'm rooting for yet, but I was a little disappointed in who got sent home, so maybe it's better to not invest at this point. I'll be seeing some of those heads in my nightmares.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:58 PM on September 26, 2020


I do wish we'd gotten some kind of explanation about the new presenter--I recognize him from things, but it would have fit nicely in with the explanation about the quarantine to know something about it. It was a surprise for some of us.

kitten kaboodle, Matt Lucas is so well-known in the UK that it would have seemed odd for there to have been an explanation in the show of who he is.
posted by essexjan at 8:00 AM on September 27, 2020 [3 favorites]


I thought that Lottie using the skull baking pan as a foundation was genius. Made more sense to me than anything else for this challenge. Even though I don't know who Louis Theroux is, I suspect hers looked more like her idol than most other folks' did.

I also really love that someone did David Attenborough. First because he deserves it and second because he has kind of a doughy face and I thought he would take well to representation in cake form.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:08 AM on September 27, 2020 [6 favorites]


Matt Lucas is so well-known in the UK that it would have seemed odd for there to have been an explanation in the show of who he is.

Oh yeah, I figured that. I just meant that it would have been nice to have a "this year we're joined by a new presenter" or something. They don't even really acknowledge the change, like Sandy leaving didn't even happen. They know this goes to multiple countries. It just seems weird, especially since they never even give their names in the voiceover. Yes, most of us can go look it up, but I was just wishing we didn't have to.

I can't say I've ever been fond of him in the things I've seen him in, but he won me over with his "distracted by my beauty" thing. (I was irrationally annoyed by her waving her hands about and ruining someone else's bakes! What a dumb thing to do at that point in time! So I really appreciated him defusing the situation.)
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:00 PM on September 27, 2020


Just as an FYI, the Boris Johnson skit that UK viewers saw at the outset of the show was cut from the Netflix version (as I expected it might be); you (or at least Americans) can view it here, at least for now.
posted by carrienation at 12:15 PM on September 27, 2020 [1 favorite]


That answers the most obvious of my questions (do they have practice space) but not about how they get their own purpose-made stuff or weird specific ingredients etc.

I believe they get a stipend to purchase stuff, but there is also the ability to get stuff in an emergency on bake day (if you spill all of your must-have spice on the floor or something). I recall Henry Bird saying that their ability to source random stuff out of thin air is supernatural.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:30 PM on September 27, 2020


We just watched it on USA Netflix an hour ago and the whole Boris bit was there.

I hope that Rowan does not keep flying too close to the sun with his ambitious ideas. I am usually Team Baker In a Garden Avec Flute, so want him to do well.

I'm sorry for all the Lottie fans, but it's 2020 and if someone says they like Viking Metal, they need to immediately follow that up with saying they are not a neo-nazi. Thems the rules since the Milkshake Duck accords of 2017.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:19 PM on September 27, 2020 [6 favorites]


I watched it on US Netflix on Friday - no Matt Lucas as Boris bit then. But, after robocop is bleeding's message, I rewatched, and it's there now. I wonder what prompted them to not include in originally, and what made them restore it?
posted by ShooBoo at 8:22 PM on September 27, 2020 [2 favorites]


I was happy to see that they still have that "We are all sorta working together against the true evil, Paul Hollywood" thing going on.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:13 PM on September 27, 2020 [3 favorites]


I went back to the show this year after having taken a break after it had switched to channel 4. 2020 definitely feels like a year where I need bake off.

Sadly channel 4 is as obnoxious as ever with its adverts; we watched on channel 4s catch up service where they only ever seen to be able to sell four advert slots so you are forced to see the same damn advert for poker stars in each of the incredibly frequent breaks. Switching from mostly streaming things this year, it's very annoying!

That said the show was great. Loved all the contestants and I thought Matt and Noel worked really well together. I guess they have been on the TV circuit together for a while, but I don't think they've actually been on the same shows much before. Despite being on little Britain, I've always been fond of Matt Lucas, having Ben introduced to him via shooting stars and rock profile.

I'm also intrigued by Noel's heavy flirty vibe with Lottie and Sura... I mean I guess they are trapped in a bubble together for six weeks...

The set up is kind of funny as in a way while no one wants to be knocked out in this show, at least this time they get to go see their loved ones again!

The show really has transitioned from the old days. I can't imagine the first few seasons of the show tasking the contestants with making a cake bust in their first week! It's such a ridiculous task because, well, it's a fricking cake, so those of the contestants who tried to make something realistic obviously ended up with something uncanny
posted by Cannon Fodder at 10:38 PM on September 27, 2020


I guess I'm the only one who was underwhelmed and disappointed by the show.

I thought the cake bust challenge felt like the kind of thing an American cooking show would do. Please don't turn this into Cake Boss or some other ridiculous show where the look of the baking is more important than the cake.

I didn't catch new bald guy's name when watching, but I really didn't care as he rubbed me exactly the wrong way. I think I described him as "somebody who isn't funny trying too hard to be funny." I also didn't think too much of the whole timing and wait for it opening gag between him and long-haired dude.

I'm sure I'll be back for more episodes, as I'm hoping this was just first episode with new presenters roughness, but certainly wasn't fun.
posted by sardonyx at 7:12 AM on September 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


I referenced a Henry Bird interview earlier, and here it is. It's exactly the opposite of a professional interview, but sort of endearing in its complete low-rent "Ooooh, spoon. Do you need a spoon? I'll get you a spoon to do this. Hold on" authenticity.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:14 AM on September 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


You know who would have been a good and easy (maybe too easy) subject for the bust? A presenter with a round shaved head who could model for it live.
posted by ShooBoo at 4:52 PM on September 29, 2020 [3 favorites]


Some stray thoughts, while I wait for episode 2 to hit the US. (On that note, I wish we got stuff like the historical bits.)

- I miss Mary, Mel, and Sue dearly. Duh. Last season was so mean. I'm still going to watch this one, but it's way more American-reality-TV-esque and stunty. Mary was so good at finding at least something nice to say about even the worst bakes, and neither Paul nor Prue really do that. Unless that's a factor of editing, but the editing also makes everything feel more fraught and stressful than when it was on BBC.

- I really liked the rapport between all the bakers, and it felt warmer than previous seasons' first episodes. Probably a silver lining of the quarantine they had to go through first. I'm so curious to learn about what that was like! Guess I should go poke some behind-the-scenes stuff.

- I don't like marzipan or fondant, so the bakes themselves were disappointing to me. Normally when I watch bake off I need to make sure I have tasty food handy, but I was not tempted by anything here. (Maybe I'd eat the pineapple upside-down cake but it's not the first thing I'd order off a dessert menu.) I also have no desire to try recreating anything at home. The cake busts were a stunt and seemed out of place for bakeoff, especially week 1.

- I feel so bad for Sura, not even able to enjoy her first place in the technical challenge! It was absolutely an accident, though understandable that Dave was upset too. But I really like her and hope she does well (black cat on a leash didn't hurt). I also really like Lottie, Hermine, and Peter.

- I think the chemistry between Noel and Matt is much better than Noel and Sandi. The jokes were still kind of awkward, but I didn't get the sense they're just gritting their teeth getting through the scripted bits together.

- As for Loriea, I knew the judges weren't going to like it once the peppers started going into her showstopper. I didn't think she deserved to be cut, and especially this year with the quarantine bubble I wouldn't have minded a one-time jubilee where they all got to stay. I think she could have adjusted to the judges' tastes in later weeks and her bakes were at least interesting! Though bubble gum and cream soda cake didn't sound appealing at all.
posted by j.r at 12:45 PM on September 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


Though bubble gum and cream soda cake didn't sound appealing at all.

Yeah I wanted to yell "just because Nadiya got away with it doesn't make it a good idea!" Seriously, why do people still insist on serving the judges flavors that they have repeatedly said they hate? Even if you succeed, the payoff will be "this is less terrible than I assumed from the description" and almost never "this is actually good on its own merits." If you go for a recipe with matcha in it at this late stage, you're a damn fool.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:49 PM on September 30, 2020 [3 favorites]


If you go for a recipe with matcha in it at this late stage, you're a damn fool.

I do not like matcha (and I really do not like bubblegum or cream soda) but the absolute refusal of the judges to learn anything about flavour profiles from anywhere else in the world infuriates me.
posted by jeather at 2:04 PM on September 30, 2020 [9 favorites]


I knew who Matt Lucas was, but I'd managed to miss the fact that Sandi Toksvig was leaving, so I'd have appreciated an on-screen acknowledgement of the change too. If I hadn't happened upon a mention shortly before watching the episode, I'd have been very taken aback!

Sadly channel 4 is as obnoxious as ever with its adverts

Oh yes. Last year I taped it and fast-forwarded through the adverts; this year, I've got All4+ (because I wanted to watch the whole run of ER and there was no way I was going to make it through that many adverts), which makes for a much better experience.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:07 PM on September 30, 2020


Many of those cake busts were nightmare fuel - I hope to forget the Bowie and Lupita ones one day.

That said, I have hopes this season will play out more gently like older seasons of Bake-Off.
posted by Julnyes at 1:46 PM on October 2, 2020 [1 favorite]


"I do not like matcha [...] but the absolute refusal of the judges to learn anything about flavour profiles from anywhere else in the world infuriates me."

Yes! I'm not sure why they're continually perplexed by flavors that aren't traditionally European. More innocuously because this is a US thing, but why is Paul still surprised that peanut butter goes well with jam or chocolate or banana?

I'm not the biggest fan of matcha either but that one is fairly standard as far as not-traditionally-Western flavors go. And I can still appreciate a thing that incorporates it well, especially if it were my job to do so. Like, I hate coffee and I'm not a fan of banana, while Paul is huge on those two flavors together (banoffee?). But if I were judging a baking competition I'd suck it up, and not penalize the baker because I happen to not like coffee.
posted by j.r at 1:56 PM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]


Banoffee is banana and toffee. Much tastier than the alternative.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:29 PM on October 2, 2020 [1 favorite]


Ah, that makes much more sense.
posted by j.r at 8:47 PM on October 2, 2020


Doesn’t seem to be the strongest batch of bakers this year. Slim pickings b/c of the circumstances?

Not digging the new host. Pleasant but dull.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:58 AM on October 5, 2020


« Older Dollhouse: Ghost...   |  Borgen: Full Season 1... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments