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‘Great British Bake Off’ 2019’s First Episode Is Full of Snakes

Proving bread next to a python is simply Big Dough Energy

Great British Bake Off 2019’s snake cake, from David Great British Bake Off/Channel 4

Welcome to the Eater round-up of Great British Bake Off 2019, as Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig, and Noel Fielding return to Channel 4 with the 10th series of cakes, puddings, breads, and inevitable recourse to terrible baking puns.

Great British Bake Off 2019 Episode 1 tackled cake, with a signature challenge covering fruit cakes, a technical challenge covering angel cake slices, and a showstopper covering birthday cakes. Contestant introductions were many, cutaways were rife, and there was an awful lot of abject feathering. Here, now, is Great British Bake Off 2019 Episode 1, (sort of) as it happened.


03:57: No mention shall be made of that Wizard of Oz intro. Sandi Toksvig once narrated the computer game adaptation of the Winnie the Witch picture books. Treachery. Noel Fielding is tasked with introducing Cake Week, and like everything else he says on voiceover, it sounds like he doesn’t quite believe what he’s reading. Anyway:

04:44: How much is a “significant amount of dried fruit?” Only Paul knows. The Secret In His Blue, Far Too Blue Eyes.

05:00: Fielding has been taking hand gesture and intonation lessons from Gordon Ramsay.

05:43: Bleeder of the Week is Michael. The first cut is the deepest.

06:03: Amelia is making a Christmas cake, and is appropriately the first to be visited by the ghost of cakes past, Paul. Pour one out:

07:01: Five bakers are leaning into family recipes. Nothing like potentially dishonouring the forbears’ traditions on national TV. Michelle is making a Welsh rum cake, and says her husband thinks she looks like Noel Fielding. Mighty douche. Rosie, meanwhile, is concerned that everyone at work thinks she’s a crazy person for drying her own fruit in ... Where? The office? No. Wait. She’s a vet. No. Wait. She proves dough “in the warmth of her pet python Minnie’s vivarium.” Snake bread? Cancel the show, the winner is here: That’s Big Dough Energy.

10:22: Michael inadvertently cuts himself for the 30th time.

11:05: Foolhardy Manoeuvre That Will Quite Obviously Backfire As Soon As It Is Mentioned of the Week goes to Dan, who is adding extra fruit to his fruit cake at the last minute. Good night, Dan. Paul gives him the death stare.

12:05: “I love healthy baking,” David says as he ferociously grates his butternut squash with all the focus of Patrick Bateman. The squash is subbing in for butter:

12:54: “I’ll show him,” Dan says, as he puts his fruit cake in the oven. Oh Dan. It didn’t have to be this way.

13:30: Phil is putting a ring of marzipan in there. He drops a Nelson Muntz-esque “HA HA!” in his cutaway.

15:20: Alice uses cake to demonstrate coastal erosion at work. With molten icing on the horizon if the fruit cakes are too hot to sustain its solidity, she wins Inadvertent Global Warming Metaphor of the Week.

15:40: Jamie has an identical twin and his cutaway uses him in a terrifying trompe-l’œil, like all those mirror scenes in Us and Duck Soup and Mirrors. Cue Conspiracy Theory of the Week, kindly sponsored by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen:

16:28: Helena lives like every day is Halloween. Halloween in January??? Her cake is both pumpkin AND maple, doubling down on seasonal drink flavours inflated by capitalism.

17:00 — 21:30: Fateful scrambled montage of cakes being removed from tins, icing running down sides, decorations collapsing, general pandemonium.

19:18: Dan’s cake is not done. Of course it isn’t done. He added extra fruit. It was written this way. The Foolhardy Manoeuvre That Will Quite Obviously Backfire As Soon As It Is Mentioned of the Week cannot be stopped.

22:00: Signature challenge tiers

  • God tier: Priya, Jamie, Henry, Steph, Michael
  • Screams Christmas tier: Amelia
  • Spicy tier: Phil, Helena
  • Molten icing as a metaphor for global warming tier: Michelle
  • Overboard with spices tier: Rosie, David, Alice
  • Foolhardy Manoeuvre That Will Quite Obviously Backfire As Soon As It Is Mentioned of the Week tier: Dan

29:11: Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood’s Machiavellian schemes start off in earnest with a Genoese sponge. “You like a bit of cruelty,” says Prue.

33:03: Not much going on in the technical challenge. Everyone’s worried about timings. And the climate.

35:30: Judging is blind and ranked from worst to best, but no time for that here...

36:30: Technical challenge tiers

  • Like the feathering on this tier: Rosie, Henry
  • Nearly accidental product placement with “exceedingly good cake” tier: Steph
  • Pastel shades tier: Amelia
  • “Flavours are there” tier: David, Alice, Michelle
  • Many shades of tough tier: Phil, Priya
  • Redemption from Foolhardy Manoeuvre That Will Quite Obviously Backfire As Soon As It Is Mentioned of the Week tier: Dan
  • Still! Not! High! Enough! tier: Michael
  • No buttercream, sorry tier: Helena
  • Where’s the bottom tier, tier: Jamie

39:50: The showstopper is birthday cake. Pretty free rein. No real birthdays to speak of.

41:00: Paul Hollywood’s Kneady Sleazy Wheeze of the Week is inflicted on Helena, with his “fairy garden” mishearing.

43:15: Priya’s childhood featured an Easter bunny who lost his eggs.

45:00: Jamie forgets to add eggs to his cake mixture. Is he the Easter bunny who lost his eggs? Or:

47:40: Snake chat. David had an albino Burmese python. Noel had a garter snake. Paul had a slow-worm. Make dickswinging comparisons at will.

49:30: More snake chat. Snake dough proving. Snake cake. Snakes wrapping themselves around computers. Reptile of the Week.

53:37: Phil’s wanking his nose cone.

55:21: Collective anguish descends. Violins play. Panic rises. And, from the distance, a clarion of truth sounds:

56:00: Showstopper challenge tiers

  • Snake tier: David
  • Prue is dribbling and also it’s faultless cake tier: Michelle
  • Good job with your fairy garden tier: Helena
  • Good tier: Michael, Alice
  • Where’s the passion fruit tier: Dan
  • I can remember 1969 tier: Phil
  • Slightly drier tier: Priya
  • Saved by the blackberry tier: Henry
  • Paul hates it but will only tell you with his eyes and not his words tier: Amelia
  • Was this your twin tier: Jamie
  • Paul and Prue don’t agree tier: Rosie
  • Great concept, weak execution tier: Steph

Star baker: Michelle, a slight surprise — Henry was perhaps favourite, but things went badly on day two.

Going home: Dan, victim of the first Foolhardy Manoeuvre That Will Quite Obviously Backfire As Soon As It Is Mentioned of the Week.

Running theme: Snakes.

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