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‘Great British Bake Off’ Dessert Week Was Sabotaged by Prue Leith

The eighth GBBO of 2020 was a reminder that not giving people enough time to complete a challenge is stupid

National Book Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals Mike Marsland/WireImage

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 8, Dessert Week, tackled, well, desserts, kind of, with a signature challenge covering cheesecake, a technical challenge covering Sussex pond pudding, and a showstopper covering jelly. It was ... Well, look at the photo. Here, now, is Great British Bake Off 2020 Dessert Week, (sort of) as it happened.

Great British Bake Off 2020 Dessert Week: The Introduction

Matt Lucas is a giant bakewell tart. That is all.

Great British Bake Off 2020 Dessert Week: Signature Challenge

Cheesecakes. Baked ones. A scratch-made base.

2:12: Peter has an “aversion to cheese.” Sad, Peter. He’s doing a ginger and lime cheesecake, which is “pretty much what [Paul] would have chosen to do.” For once, following Paul Hollywood’s life choices might prove solid.

4:10: Laura has dropped her biscuit for her passion fruit cheesecakes. Not a very auspicious start. It’s quickly emerging that passion fruit is in literally all the cheesecakes except Peter’s and Marc’s. Dave is using passion fruit and orange. Hermine is going the mason jar cheesecake route, delighting small all-day bistros in most large U.S. cities. Marc is helping Matt Lucas devise the first song for Great British Bake Off, the musical. Meanwhile, a compelling hosting appeal...

10:11: Laura’s cheesecakes haven’t set and Peter’s curd is unusable. Two early contenders for jeopardy. Meanwhile, Noel and Matt have drawn a face on a spoon and are making it talk. Filming in a bubble is obviously long but lads, seriously, get a grip.

Oh, it turns out Mr Spoon has been resurrected from 2018 and is terrifying. Sounds about right.

There’s a running theme in the online commentary. Sorry Laura.

Not sure who this is:

21:14: Signature challenge tiers

  • Cheesecake tier: Dave, Laura
  • Cheesebreak tier: Hermine, Marc
  • Cheesestake tier: Peter

I do have to draw attention to the fact that Prue told Marc that she didn’t get any apricot until she bit into the apricot, in a cheesecake whose only apricot quotient was, indeed, the apricot. Or, to put it another way:

Great British Bake Off 2020 Dessert Week: Technical Challenge

25:02: Sussex pond pudding! A suet pudding with citrus and sugar melting out into a pond! Respect to this, to be honest, it’s a genuinely difficult technical, especially as Prue Leith is giving them two point five (2.5) hours and it’s going to take around two (2) hours to steam effectively such that the whole lemon inside doesn’t spurt out angry and raw like a certain alien-based eponymous film franchise.

30:12: I dissociated a little but everyone’s got their pudding steaming, with simply not enough time for their puddings to steam. Dave’s have collapsed into a suet mess. Everyone else has learned how to unmould a pudding... Wait, no, Peter’s ... Marc’s... They’ve all collapsed actually. It’s gone, well, absolutely terribly.

However, again, I have to draw attention to the fact that they had two-and-a-half hours to do this, and steaming a pudding takes, around, two hours? A little sabotage from the judges to inject some drama into an otherwise fairly lifeless series? Could be, could be. Prue literally says that one of them needed another hour, so ... Change my mind.

36:30: Technical challenge tiers

  • Prue screwed them over tier: Dave, Hermine, Peter, Marc, Laura

Great British Bake Off 2020 Dessert Week: Showstopper Challenge

41:12: A jelly ... Art ... Cake? Have the judges been watching TikTok? Dave says, “I’m ready for this jelly,” just far, far, too sincerely. Alan Partridge dies, out of shot.

42:00: Peter says gelatin is a scary beast. Hermine basically dismisses jelly as Anglo-Saxon, which, true. It’s time to reflect on a dessert week that includes collapsing suet and jelly art. Deranged, not requiring baking at all, why, why, why.

44:42: Laura is doing a koi pond from her garden, personally disappointed she’s not doing her pizza oven. Everyone online is distracted by Prue Leith being 80 so no good tweets to share right now. This showstopper is vintage good GBBO, because it’s pretty nuts, but also vintage bad GBBO, because it has absolutely no basis in baking, really, at all, and is extremely stunty.

47:00: The injecting-jelly-sequence is a lovely blend of body horror and food art. Laura drops a cake for the twentieth time this series. The releasing-jelly-stress montage is gorgeous. Very good stuff.

56:00: Showstopper challenge tiers

  • Wibble wobble wibble wobble jelly on a plate tier: Laura, Hermine
  • Wibble wobble wibble wobble jelly off a plate tier: Dave, Marc, Peter

Great British Bake Off Dessert Week: Results

Star baker: Hermine.

Going home: Marc. Another showstopper victim, but the unbalanced judging feels more natural this week given the technical was a unilateral disaster.

Running theme: Contestants need enough time to complete challenges!