We’re back for season 13 of The Great British Baking Show. This season is going to begin with 12 new amateur bakers battling to remain in the competition in “Cake Week.” They’ll face three tricky challenges, and at the end of the week, one baker will be crowned Star Baker, and another will be eliminated from the competition. Grab yourself a slice of cake, and let’s dive into season 13!
The Signature Challenge gives the bakers a chance to show off their own personal twist on a given dish. This week the bakers were asked to make a batch of 12 identical mini sandwich cakes. The bakers could use any type of sponge, and the cakes could be any shape and flavor. However, they only had two hours to do this. The judges expected originality, excellent flavor, and for the cakes to be identical.
Sadly, the challenge didn’t go too well for Rebs. She made hazelnut mocha latte sandwich cakes with caramel filling and topped with chocolate ganache and hazelnut spikes. Her coffee flavor was a little overwhelming for the judges, and her other flavors were not strong enough to compete. Her caramel ended up a little runny, resulting in some of the upper layers of her cakes sliding slightly and looking a little wonky. Judge Paul Hollywood also thought that her ganache was too hard.
Will also struggled with this challenge. He made ginger and caramel squares with three types of ginger: ginger powder, stem ginger, and fresh ginger syrup. He planned to sandwich them with Swiss meringue salted caramel buttercream to show off his skills. However, when he made the buttercream, it split, and he had to remake it. His second attempt also split. He then had to make a very quick basic buttercream. The loss of time meant that his decoration was rushed and messy. The judges thought his flavors were bland and didn’t have enough ginger flavor, which was surprising considering the amount of ginger he used.
Most bakers received constructive criticism on their bakes but did quite well. The standard of baking is high this year. A few bakers stood out from the crowd, though. Janusz made cherry vodka liqueur chocolate sandwich cakes. They were inspired by Polish wuzetka. The sponges were sandwiched with pistachio cream and kirsch-soaked cherries and topped with chocolate ganache. His cakes looked immaculate. His sponges were light, and judge Prue Leith thought his boozy flavors were amazing. Unfortunately, Paul disagreed and thought the alcohol was too strong, although they were texturally perfect.
Abdul did very well in this challenge with his cacti cakes. His chocolate and hazelnut sponges contained a little kick of chili powder. They were sandwiched with raspberry jam and mascarpone and topped with rosewater buttercream cacti. They were baked in tribute to all of the houseplants that he had accidentally killed off. They looked amazing as they were covered in crumbs, making them look like garden soil. His sponges were very light and delicious, with the judges loving the kick of chili and the raspberry and hazelnut flavors.
Sandro also did very well with a flower-themed bake. He made chocolate flowerpots topped with white sugar fondant roses. His flowerpots were made of dark chocolate and contained chocolate, orange sponges, and red wine ganache. These looked amazing, and the judges loved his flavors, particularly the red wine ganache. They thought they were rich and indulgent.
For the Technical Challenge, the bakers must follow a pared-down recipe they have never seen before. This week they had two hours to make a layered red velvet cake. They had to make six crimson sponges, sandwiched and decorated with cream cheese icing and decorated with sprinkled red crumbs. The judges then rated the bakes from worst to best in a blind judging, not knowing which cake belonged to which baker.
Surprisingly, James came in the last position. Instead of putting the cream cheese within the cake to sandwich the layers, he used most of it to decorate the outside of the cake with fancy pipework. This is not what the judges were looking for, even if his sponges were good.
Rebs came in eleventh place as she, unfortunately, took her cakes out of the oven too soon. This resulted in them sinking. The judges thought her cakes were undercooked and claggy, which lacked the desired height.
Maxy came in tenth place, although her cake was attractive; she had also underbaked it, which was very dense. Then, in order, came: Will, Carole, Janusz, Abdul, Maisam, Kevin, and Dawn.
Sandro came in second place because the judges liked the texture and flavor of his sponges. His cake was very neat, but he had decorated the cake with too many crumbs.
This left Syabira in first place with her perfect cake. It looked amazing, had nice layers, and the flavor and texture matched. Paul said that her cake was better than his. This was a lovely moment for her as a red velvet cake was the first cake she had baked and kickstarted her love of baking.
The Showstopper Challenge is the challenge for bakers to showcase that they can create something that looks as good as it tastes. This week they were asked to make a 3D replica of somewhere they had lived out of cake. They had four hours to create their home, and the judges were looking for stability and lots of detail in their cakes.
Once again, Will struggled with this challenge. He made a replica of his North London flat out of chocolate and orange sponges. His architectural details were made of gingerbread. However, with these three elements, he bit off more than he could chew. He ran out of time baking them and so had to rush the decoration of his cake. The judges weren’t impressed because his sponges were overbaked, and the chocolate flavor was not strong enough.
Syabira was a contender for Star Baker this week after the judges liked her signature bake, and she came in first place in the Technical Challenge. However, she missed out on the title by a narrow margin after the mixed feedback on her Showstopper Challenge. She made a cake modeled after her Malaysian childhood home with a coconut tree in the garden. Her sponges were flavored with milk tea and sandwiched with strawberry, cinnamon jam, and matcha buttercream. The judges loved the details of her cake and thought it was baked perfectly. However, it lacked a strong flavor as the milk tea was not strong enough.
Rebs managed to redeem herself slightly with this challenge and narrowly avoided being eliminated. She made a pina colada flavored cake replica of her home. Her rum-soaked coconut and vanilla sponges were sandwiched with flambéed pineapple, coconut, and rum buttercream. Her bake almost ended in disaster. She had taken her cakes out of the oven, allowed them to cool, and then began to slice them when she realized they were undercooked in the middle. She managed to salvage the situation by sacrificing one of her cakes and cutting circles out of it to fill in the middles of the other cakes. The presentation of her cake was original as she brought over a spray bottle of rum to represent the rain in Northern Ireland. The judges loved her decoration and flavors, which proved to save her from elimination even though they said her cakes were overbaked. It’s quite impressive to be able to overbake and underbake a cake simultaneously.
Carole’s cake also stood out in this episode despite receiving mixed feedback. Her cake representation of her cottage was stunning with its intricate pipework. It had a lot of details, including Carole’s flowerpots. However, the flavor of her coffee and walnut cake surprised the judges. She used chicory as a coffee substitute, which was much too strong of a flavor. Paul said that he had never had a coffee cake that strong before and that it was burning.
Janusz once again stood out amongst the bakers with his stunning bake. He made his mom’s flat in Poland out of chocolate cake (which had soy sauce in it) with spiced orange buttercream. He represented his mom’s balcony which always contained flowers. The judges loved the color and decoration of his cake. It was perfectly textured and delicious, with the right amount of spice. The judges could not fault it.
Unsurprisingly after the Showstopper Challenge, Janusz was named Star Baker, beating Syabira and Sandro. There was a lovely moment after he had been given the title where he phoned his partner to tell them that he had been named “Star Caker in the Bake Week.”
Sadly, Will was eliminated after consistently not performing well across any of the challenges. This meant that Rebs and Maisam, who also didn’t perform too well, survived to compete next week.
Here are some of my favorite non-baking moments from this week’s episode!
- The season started the way it means to continue, with cheesy puns. This time with some Star Wars puns, including “Darth Baker” and “Prue-bacca.”
- Maxy had been very nervous about presenting her Showstopper Challenge to the judges. When she went to remove it after judging, Paul yelled, “boo,” and she almost dropped her cake.
Next week, the bakers will compete in “Biscuit Week.” Make sure you check it out on Netflix next Friday, then check back here for the latest recap!