‘The Great British Baking Show’ Season 12, Episode 1 Recap: “Cake Week”

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'The Great British Baking Show'

We are so excited that The Great British Baking Show is back! We have missed this feel-good show and couldn’t wait to start this week with 12 amateur bakers tackling “Cake Week.” Each week the bakers will compete in three challenges to showcase their baking prowess. The show returns with hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas and judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood. Let the baking and drooling at the screen commence!  

Signature Challenge

For the signature challenge, the bakers were given a classic bake to put their own signature spin on. This week they were asked to make 12 decorative mini rolls. They had two hours to make them and could use any flavors they wanted, but an elegant swirl in the middle was expected.

This challenge was definitely the battle of the Black Forest mini rolls. Tom, Amanda, and Jürgen all used the classic chocolate and cherry flavors as their signature. However, it didn’t go too well for Tom and Amanda. Tom’s rolls only had a bit of a swirl and didn’t taste strongly enough of cherry. Amanda had wanted to put her stamp on the bake by having her rolls standing up like soldiers. However, they wouldn’t stand up straight. Her cherry flavor was also not strong enough and her rolls were more of a blob than a swirl. Jürgen triumphed in this battle, which is hardly surprising as he is from the Black Forest. His flavors were well-balanced with a good cherry flavor.

A couple of the bakers fell into the trap that the judges warned about. The bakers needed to bake their sponges as quickly as possible, because if the fillings were placed onto warm sponges then the fillings would melt and ooze out. Lizzie and George both had problems with this. George had forgotten to close his oven door when it was heating and so had to wait to put his sponges in the oven. As a result, his chocolate and hazelnut mini rolls were a mess. They had partially collapsed, filling had oozed out and they were still warm when the judges tried them. Lizzie also had problems as she was slow putting her giraffe-patterned sponges in the oven. As a result, her coffee sponges with tahini caramel were dripping filling out of the side. This threw her flavors out of balance as so much was lost.

‘The Great British Baking Show’

In contrast, Maggie, Chigs, and Giuseppe also stood out for having good mini rolls. Maggie’s chocolate orange mini rolls had a meringue-based batter which the judges loved for its flavor and texture. Chigs, who has only been baking for 12 months, made delicious strawberries and cream mini rolls with a lovely swirl. Giuseppe made stunning almond and orange mini rolls. His rolls were gorgeous and so elegant, whilst also being delicious with delicate flavors. He set himself up as one to watch.

Technical Challenge

Surprisingly, the technical challenge went quite well for the bakers. There was no complete disasters this challenge. The bakers had to follow a pared down recipe that they had never seen before. They had two hours to make a malt loaf with homemade butter on the side. The judges then ranked the bakes from worst to best in a blind judging, not knowing which loaf belonged to which baker.

‘The Great British Baking Show’

Judge Prue warned that there were several traps that the bakers could fall into. One being that because the mix was simple, it would be easy to undermix the mixture and leave lumps of flour in the loaf. This is exactly what happened to Amanda, who came in last place.

Another trap was that the loaf was easy to underbake or overbake due to its dark color. This made it difficult for the bakers to tell when it had finished baking. Chigs came in 11th place due to his loaf being underbaked and doughy in the middle.

On the other end of the scale, Freya and Maggie both did excellently in this challenge. Freya came in second with her loaf as it had good distribution of fruit and had a good chew. Maggie narrowly beat her, though. Her loaf had lots of fruit with a good texture and color. This set Maggie up in a good position for the next challenge.

Showstopper Challenge

For their showstopper challenge, the challenge where style matters as much as substance, they had to make an anti-gravity illusion cake. They had four hours to decorate a cake in a way that represents a precious memory to them. The judges wanted to be wowed and not be able to figure out how the cakes were still standing. This challenge served to divide the bakers once again, with some amazing designs and some disasters.

Giuseppe made a stunning “Jack and the Beanstalk” cake. The chocolate and raspberry cake showed the fairy-tale castle sitting on a cloud, suspended above the beanstalk. His cake looked stunning and the flavors were good. Unfortunately, the judges found it a little dry.

Jürgen stood out once again for his technical design. He used his DIY skills to create a Utopia book with a light suspended above it. His orange and cardamom sponge went down very well with the judges who gave him the title of “flavor king.”

‘The Great British Baking Show’

Crystelle and Freya also placed highly with their flower inspired bakes. Crystelle’s bouquet of flowers made of cinnamon sponge was stunning and beautifully flavored. Freya also impressed the judges with her flower pot bake, covered in intricately piped flowers and they loved her vegan chocolate sponge.

Amanda had a near miss with her cake. She made a cake shaped like a wave with dolphins coming out of it, made with elderflower and lemon sponge. The judges thought it looked great but that her sponges were dry and slightly overbaked. Once it had been judged, she took it back to her bench. As the next baker, Lizzie, grabbed her cake to take up for judging, Amanda’s cake toppled forward and smashed on the side. She was so lucky that it had already been judged!

Jairzeno had a disastrous bake. He planned to make a cake with a paint can on top, spilling color down the cake. Somehow, he wanted to have the structure held up only by cake. I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand how his plan was going to work at all! Which of course, it didn’t. His cake ended up a mess and he had to lose his entire anti-gravity element as the cake wouldn’t stand up. It ended up as a minimally decorated two-tiered cake. It was a mess, but the judges said that it did taste good.

Tom also didn’t do well in this challenge. He aimed to make a three-tiered cake from almond and lemon sponges. The decoration was inspired by a concert hall. The judges questioned how this was anti-gravity as his plan was just to produce a three-tiered cake that leaned slightly. It did not fulfill the brief and the judges weren’t impressed.


Unsuprisingly, Jürgen won the title of “star baker” this week. It is obvious that Jürgen can please the judges with his flavors and engineering skills. He was also made so much more endearing when he tried to phone his family at the end of the episode to tell them the good news and no one answered the phone.

Maggie and Giuseppe have also established themselves as strong competitors. We will have to see whether they just excel at cake or whether they are well-rounded bakers.

Sadly, Tom was eliminated this week. This was quite surprising to me as I think that other bakers such as Jairzeno, Amanda, and George were all in trouble. However, Tom didn’t too well with his Black Forest mini rolls and placed in the middle for the technical challenge. What clinched his elimination was his lack of understanding of the anti-gravity cake with his showstopper. His finished product didn’t look good and it seemed as though he had only done minimal planning for the challenge.

Baking Show Best Bits

Here are some of my favorite non-baking moments from this week’s episode!

  • Host Matt Lucas singing The Flintstones theme tune to Jürgen in German.
  • Prue hitting Paul after he said that she would have to clean the cake out of her dentures.
  • Pun of the week: Crystelle dedicated her bouquet showstopper cake to her aunt who used to bake and do flower arrangements. Noel dubbed it the “auntie gravity cake.”

Next week, the bakers will compete in “Biscuit Week.” Make sure you check out The Great British Baking Show on Netflix next Friday, then check back here for the latest recap!

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By Lynette
Lynette has been a lifelong nerd and over the last few years finally learned to let her freak flag fly. She likes to dip her toe into almost every fandom but is particularly passionate about Supernatural, Stranger Things, Marvel and Disney. When she isn’t binge watching programs, she loves to swim, sing and (true to her Ravenclaw nature) read. Lynette joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2019 and loves sharing her nerdy knowledge with the world.
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