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 4 tackled chocolate, with a signature challenge covering chocolate brownies, a technical challenge covering chocolate babka, and a showstopper covering tiered white chocolate cakes. It got emotional, it got raw, and that was just the brownies. Here, now, is Great British Bake Off 2020 Chocolate Week, (sort of) as it happened.
Great British Bake Off 2020 Chocolate Week: The Introduction
Nothing to speak of. Let down.
Great British Bake Off 2020 Chocolate Week: Signature Challenge
Chocolate brownies are... Pretty easy? But the 90 minute timeframe is difficult, as they need to cool down. Prue’s key warning is not to overdecorate it, so inevitably...
3:30: Linda is doing Christmas brownies laden with Turkish delight and white chocolate. Marc is using praline and buttercream. No-one is listening!!! Dave’s got honeycomb! Peter is doing “healthy” brownies. Cursed. Wrong.
Brownies don't need a topping. Not meringue and definitely not cheesecake. Keep it simple. #GBBO— Ruth Raven (@RuthieR) October 13, 2020
8:01: The apparent simplicity of this challenge appears to be messing with the bakers’ heads. Twice-baked brownies; cook them for ten minutes and flip them brownies; do a little dance, vote for Brexit and then complain about Brexit food standards. Wait that’s Prue, sorry all. Mark’s method for testing meringue is “Trump hair.” Topical points for thee, Mark.
9:42: Laura is joining Mark in S’more brownies. Now it’s the baking tension segment. This writer has always found success in chilling them down out of the oven and then in the freezer, as it “sets” the under-baked centre required into something dense and fudgy rather than sloppy and gooey.
13:00: There’s a lot of goo. Lottie has wet freezer juice on her brownies. A dense and fudgy treat has turned into a dense and fudgy nightmare. It’s a bit of a chocolate bloodbath, in all honesty.
They really fucked the brownies didn’t they!? Amateur hour #GBBO— Eoin Murray (@eoinymurray) October 13, 2020
Eoin ... Is not wrong. Eater London is aware of the frequently shared meme in which a famously shouty U.K. chef shouts “IT’S RAW,” but will not be deploying this meme at this time. This judging round is honestly painful to watch, so the tiers are designed to reduce the pain.
21:14: Signature challenge tiers
- Cooked tier: Peter, Mark, Sura, Hermine, Linda, Dave
- Raw tier: Laura, Lottie, Marc, Lottie
Lottie rounds up the challenge: “we all tried to make it harder than we needed to be.” She’s right, but the absolutely nuclear tone of the judging doesn’t quite vibe with Bake Off.
Great British Bake Off 2020 Chocolate Week: Technical Challenge
25:02: Chocolate babka. 2018 Instagram-bait, come on down! Babka is difficult, so technical challenge: Yes.
27:12: This year’s technical challenges are going the way of the professional kitchen round on Masterchef:
|￣￣￣￣￣￣￣￣￣￣￣|— Sam Whyte (@SamWhyte) August 24, 2018
I The Professional I
I Kitchen Round I
To expand — just as the babkas are supposed to do — there is little explanation of the workings of each bake, so viewers are unlikely to learn much; the waiting sequences have lost a little charm with Matt and Noel being so similar to each other; it just lacks some energy. Perhaps it’s another symptom of the gruelling filming schedule.
36:30: Technical challenge tiers
- Swirly tier: Peter, Linda, Mark, Laura
- Whirly tier: Marc, Hermine
- Uhhh-ly tier: Lottie, Sura, Dave
Great British Bake Off 2020 Chocolate Week: Showstopper Challenge
40:00: White chocolate tiered cakes!!!!! In a country recently anguished by tier-related announcements? Bold.
White chocolate is a pervert's fancy and I can't believe a whole showstopper challenge was wasted on it. #GBBO— Stephanie Faye (@StephanieEphani) October 13, 2020
Wow. Mark says white chocolate is a crowdpleaser. Not so sure about this buddy. Prue reminds Lottie that the ultimate aim is to be “not the worst” — whew — while warm weather is adding some serious jeopardy to the challenge of tempering the chocolate. This is more like it! Matt Lucas points out the slight logical flaw in asking for a white chocolate cake and then questioning sweetness.
56:00: Showstopper challenge tiers
- Tier 1: Mark, Dave, Peter, Hermine
- Tier 2: Lottie, Marc, Linda, Laura
- Tier 3:
- I’m done tier: Sura
Great British Bake Off Chocolate Week: Results
Star baker: Mark
Going home: Sura. It was probably a close-run thing with Lottie, but GBBO’s enduring showstopper-means-all judging bias was always going to go against her.
Running theme: A chink in GBBO coziness, and a reminder that while filmed in a bubble, people do not exist in one. It’s stressful, it’s intense, and when your primary ingredient melts easily, it can easily get too much.