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‘Great British Bake Off’ Custard Week Was Wobbly on Every Level

The critiques melted on close inspection and the baking was almost non-existent

The Great British Bake Off judges and presenters with some custard.
The Great British Bake Off judges and presenters with some custard.
Love Productions

Welcome to the Eater round-up of Great British Bake Off 2022, as Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Matt Lucas, and Noel Fielding return to Channel 4 with the 13th series of cakes, puddings, breads, and inevitable recourse to terrible baking puns. It’s no longer filmed in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble, but Paul Hollywood’s terrible handshake is here, sweaty as ever, and the tent stands on.

Great British Bake Off 2022 Episode 7 was Custard Week. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith judged a floating islands signature, an ice cream technical, and a gateau showstopper.

Great British Bake Off forgoes something somewhat important — baking

Aside from the sponges in the showstopper, nothing was baked in this episode at all. Now, GBBO is not exactly known for its adherence to things like “cultural norms” or “reasonable levels of respect,” but, and can I just shock you here: Custard can be baked. Creme brulees are baked. Custard tarts are baked. Baked custard, is, believe it or not, baked. So why are the bakers just making myriad versions of creme anglaise and not putting them anywhere near an oven?

Great British Bake Off brings back something important — freezer terror

There are but two truly great Great British Bake Off great moments. One happened during the previous edition of Custard Week, in which contestant Deborah accidentally stole contestant Howard’s custard. The challenge was trifles, so each had their trifle judged as normal, but then had to come over mid-process to have Paul Hollywood hammer their efforts once more.

The other was Iain’s baked Alaska, which ended up in the bin after contestant Diana took it out of the freezer to make room for her own. So this week’s technical, which combined custard and a freezer to make ice cream, was always going to be an absolute whizzbanger.

Despite the return of a staggered system, in which contestants could start their challenge a few minutes after each other, in order to prevent prolonged waiting to be judged — and thus, prevent melting — things soon collapsed. Given both ice cream machines and freezers were available, it’s not exactly clear how, but Syabira and Janusz’s pistachio and praline cones were more soup than solid. As anybody knows: custard is a soup.

Brief pause for literal wobbling

Kevin’s eventual downfall was his showstopper gateau, which was one of the most ambitious in terms of the amount of custard. But much like Icarus, he was stupid in choosing to what he did, and was forced to separate his three layer masterpiece into a two-and-one structure. While Paul and Prue agreed his flavours were the best in the tent — and, before the challenge, had said everyone bar Syabira and Sandro were in line to go home — they still did what they normally do, focussed entirely on one small bug bear that doesn’t represent the show as a whole, and booted him from the tent.

Back to abstract wobbling

Syabira’s victory as star baker felt a little harsh on Sandro, given that his ice creams were much better than her soup cones, and there was little between them in the other two challenges. But as this writer has learned over the years, trying to find logic in the GBBO judging is like cooking custard in a pan and calling it baking.

Star baker: Syabira
Going home: Kevin
Running theme: Gloop