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‘Great British Bake Off’ Patisserie Week Brought Prue Leith’s Sadism to the Fore

“Vertical tarts” is the new two-word horror story

B&Q Gardener of the Year 2022
Prue Leith, wreathed in flowers.
Ian Gavan/Getty Images for B&Q

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. No longer filmed in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble, Paul Hollywood’s terrible handshake is here, sweaty as ever, and the tent stands on.

Great British Bake Off 2022 Episode 9 was Patisserie Week. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith judged a charlotte signature, a vertical tart technical, and a krokan showstopper.

Prue Leith is a sadist

The signature round was a little dull with some dinky Charlottes, but come the technical, Prue Leith really leaned into her evil side. Vertical tarts? They sound bad if they’re stacked or tall, but they aren’t even kind enough that. These are circular rings of pastry, thick enough to stand on their sides, in order to be filled with ganache and topped with piping decoration.

Doing this with practice would be hard enough; doing it blind? Pure evil. It leads to four pretty strong bakers — which isn’t always the case come this de facto semi-final — looking like, well, thinking about it, the amateurs that they are, but worse, actually.

And following it up with a tower of almond biscuit and marzipan that appears to only have been seen in public at a Swedish royal wedding? Very rude indeed Prue. Very rude.

The judging at least appears to make sense

Last year’s semi-final was the latest in a long line of GBBO travesties. Paul Hollywood gave out three handshakes in one round, snubbing longterm favourite Jürgen entirely, before eliminating him despite a victory in the technical round. The episode before that, Hollywood had justified eliminating Lizzie over Crystelle by saying that the latter had been stronger across the series.

Perhaps Hollywood and Leith were aided in this case by both Sandro and Janusz

So, who will win?

Syabira appears to be odds-on favourite, not just for her star baker collection, but for a general high bottom level of consistency that the other bakers can’t match. While Abdul is peaking with his first star bakery, it’s that key concept that tends to win the GBBO crown.

For the unfamiliar, “high bottom level” is a phrase used by Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel when describing teammate Paul Scholes. Schmeichel elaborates that having a “high bottom level” means one’s worst performance goes unnoticed, because it is so much better than the worst those around them can produce. Abdul and Sandro can’t match Syabira’s bottom level, and that’s why she’s the tip to win the whole thing.

Star baker: Abdul
Going home: Janusz
Running theme: Prue Leith inflicting pain.