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‘Great British Bake Off’ Biscuit Week Raised the Hollywood Handshake From the Dead

The second GBBO of 2020 ended in controversy, but the bigger problem is that the handshake WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD

Great British Bake Off Biscuit Week, with judges Matt Lucas, Prue Leith, and Paul Hollywood
Immediate Media/Channel 4

Welcome to the Eater round-up of Great British Bake Off 2020, as Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Matt Lucas, and Noel Fielding return to Channel 4 with the 11th series of cakes, puddings, breads, and inevitable recourse to terrible baking puns. Filmed in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble, producers had originally said that Paul Hollywood’s terrible handshake was cancelled, but somehow, it is still here, as sweaty as ever.

Great British Bake Off 2020 Episode 2 tackled biscuits, with a signature challenge covering Battenberg, a technical challenge covering pineapple upside down cake, and a showstopper covering ... well ... wait and see. Contestant introductions were many, cutaways were rife, and cakes toppled to the floor.. Here, now, is Great British Bake Off 2020 Episode 1, (sort of) as it happened.

Great British Bake Off 2020 Biscuit Week: The Introduction

From a coronavirus briefing to ... some fake biscuit facts. Sorry folks, that was rubbish.

Great British Bake Off 2020 Biscuit Week: Signature Challenge

04:35: It’s Florentines. Biscuit; fruit; chocolate; snappy. Matt Lucas and Noel
Fielding do another weird ready, steady

**interminable void**


gag and things can actually begin.

05:00: David knows the snap is key; Hermine is just scared; Prue once again refers to a baked good, on a show about baking, as “fattening.” No-body-cares.

05:43: Peter is riffing on sticky toffee pudding for a sticky biscuit. Sura is riffing on Sohan-e-quom, an Iranian brittle of rosewater, cardamom, almond, and pistachio. Noel takes the opportunity to remind Sura that she knocked David’s cakes over last week. Traumatic stuff.

07:27: Linda remembers that common childhood story of stealing florentines. Not for all. Mark wants a “bite of nuts.” Stand by for Paul Hollywood’s Kneady Sleazy Wheeze of the Week... but wait, because Mark, Mak, Hermine, and Dave are all using mango. Dave loves eating “all things mango.” How many mango things ... Are there? Laura is going for salted caramel florentines, and her interstitial reveals that she is the landlord of a pub with a pizza oven, bloody hell what a ... Oh, no, it’s a sign in her garden. Still. Nice pizza oven.

9:47: A little interlude on measurement features Mak saying that “some people measure, but I don’t have the patience.” I feel a Foolhardy Manoeuvre That Will Quite Obviously Backfire As Soon As It Is Mentioned of the Week coming on.

12:10 Lottie DROPS THE QUARANTINE FLORENTINES. @fionashields can rest easy. Mark’s switching oven shelves and Laura is timing to the second. Meanwhile, some niche discomfort:

14:45: Rowan is doing waistcoat florentines in honour of his own waistcoat collection. Matt Lucas tells Paul “that this is what posh people talk about.” Where’s that Channel 4 pay scale...

15:22: Rowan’s Battenberg is a visual representation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which, absolutely, why not. Linda’s Battenberg is going to be an ambulance, which, absolutely, why not. Mak is doing a pistachio marzipan, because he hates almond marzipan, which, absolutely, why not. Hermine is adding marmalade and orange liqueur to her marzipan, which, absolutely, why not.

16:20: Everyone’s tempering their chocolate. Paging Sohla El-Waylly...

17:00: It’s notable that where Sandi acted as a sort of grounding, wearily straightforward sounding board to Noel, Fielding and Lucas’ double act is predicated entirely on each other being ambient-weird. It may grate, over the series. Matt Lucas says “if you communicate through rap, the kids really take it in.” At least you didn’t put blackface in the script this time my dude (:

18:41: C H A O S M O N T A G E

19:15: Signature challenge tiers

  • God tier: Sura
  • Somehow winged it tier: David
  • Very surprising tier: Marc
  • Never had anything like it tier: Peter
  • Paul wants something bitter tier: Laura
  • Don’t stop dreaming (but maybe do, because, they’re bad) tier: Rowan
  • Too chewy tier: Hermine
  • Prue was worrying about very large nuts tier: Mark
  • It’s not a florentine tier: Linda
  • Foolhardy Manoeuvre That Will Quite Obviously Backfire As Soon As It Is Mentioned of the Week (and it’s not a florentine) tier: Mak

The Hollywood Handshake was supposed to be dead and gone. Dead and gone. Dead and gone.

Great British Bake Off 2020 Biscuit Week: Technical Challenge

29:11: Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood’s Machiavellian schemes continue with macaroons. Not macarons. Macaroons. With more mango. Big week for mango.

30:22: Matt Lucas does that macaron macaroon macarooon joke nobody asked for.

31:10: Noel inadvertently recognises the horror of the Hollywood handshake by asking Lottie what it felt like when “Paul’s sausagey fingers grasped your tiny hand.” Lottie says she felt nothing. Correct answer.

32:00: There’s not been enough jeopardy on the technical challenges so far. Sura’s toppling of Dave’s cake last week was an event, for sure, but much like the professional kitchen round on Masterchef, the gap between the preparation and the judging just feels ... too long? Long-time fans will remember that they used to be punctuated by historical segments explaining the origin of each bake, but those are long gone. So, there’s a lot of fiddling with greaseproof paper and Laura is gracious enough to admit that when it comes to mango curd, she’s talking out of her arse.

35:04: Some good old-fashioned craning necks into ovens and trying to define an inscrutable baking term (“golden.”) This is the GBBO of yore. Some trolling from Matt: “you have five minutes ... Until we tell you you have ten minutes.” Great stuff.

36:30: Technical challenge tiers

  • Actually baked tier: Mark, Mak, Dave, Hermine
  • Does taste very good tier: Sura, Linda
  • Squashy tier: Laura, Rowan, Lottie, Peter, Marc
  • Squashy and messy tier: Rowan

Great British Bake Off 2020 Biscuit Week: Showstopper Challenge

39:50: The showstopper is ... Well to be honest it could be anything after last week:

The cakes are not heads. The biscuits are not heads. The biscuits are... A 3D [opens book] sculpted [rifles through some pages] table setting [shuts book] trompe l’oeil [looks at camera]

44:00: Prue: It’s not going to be easy. Rowan, who is surely favourite to leave right now, is doing a lighthouse with a flashing light on top. “Worse things happen at sea,” it’s called. Counterpoint: they do not. Countercounterpoint: Rowan stans... They are many.

46:24: Viking biscuits. Ethiopian coffee ceremony biscuits. Haggis biscuits. A tale of two tea sets: one from Sura and one from Mak.

54:12: V E R Y L O N G D E C O R A T I O N C H A O S M O N T A G E

57:20: Showstopper challenge tiers

  • An amazing toast and tea tier: Marc
  • An amazing job tier: Dave
  • A great job tier: Peter
  • Great snap tier: Sura, Mark
  • Look good taste bad tier: Hermine
  • Not enough work tier: Laura
  • Too much work tier: Linda
  • A bit clumsy tier: Mak
  • Rubber lighthouse tier: Rowan

Star baker: Dave, proving that this series consistency looks to trump wow factor.

Going home: Mak. Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh nah should have been Rowan mate. Rowan had 0/3; Mak 1/3; Rowan’s error is always the same, hubristic ambition that ends in disaster, across two weeks. Honestly, the judges have had a shocker, and that’s not even accounting for the Hollywood handshake. Prue even said OUT LOUD that “Rowan doesn’t take any advice.”

Running theme: Controversy and outrage.