After watching the season premiere about six (okay, 14) times, I’ve begun to suspect we’re on the precipice of the greatest season The Great British Baking Show has ever blessed us with. I’ve spent all week telling myself to stop being so foolish, as I damn well know better than to be optimistic about anything this year. As long as the tent doesn’t go up in flames and the appliances don’t get hacked we’ll be happy with whatever this show gives us. But Biscuit Week has me believing that we are witnessing the sort of magic that I’ve all but lost faith in, because it’s an episode that’s not particularly dramatic or exciting, and I still want to watch it again and again. I am legitimately in love with every single person in that tent and want my time with them to last forever.
After Cake Week’s short videos introducing us to this year’s bakers, Biscuit Week brings us videos that depict their lives outside the tent, which are so spectacularly boring, they’re actually charming. These people are starring in one of the biggest shows on planet Earth, and when they’re asked to share something interesting about themselves, we get riveting television like this:
If Rowan decided to start an OnlyFans where he polishes antiques while sitting between his grand piano and cranberry-scented candle collection, he would make eleven jillion dollars a week—twelve jillion if he wears a vest. It should also be noted that this is the more exciting of the two hobbies Rowan chooses to showcase this week; I chose not to include pictures of him gardening, because he does not wear a vest when pruning his petunia bushes.
Laura, who impresses the judges with her rich salted caramel biscuits, likes to spend her free time eating pizza. When Dave isn’t busy laying the smackdown with his feathered chocolate mango florentines, he’s out walking his dog. Living goddess Sura, she of the miraculous sohan florentines, spends her free time doing yoga, completely alone, in a public park. These are the sort of extreme thrills we crave. When Prue told Mark she was “worrying a bit about [his] very large nuts,” it wasn’t about his mango macadamia biscuits, but the video of him enjoying a picnic with three other people.
Last week’s star baker, 20-year-old badminton enthusiast Peter, makes a Florentine inspired by one of my personal favorite desserts: sticky toffee pudding. It’s an ingenious idea that bowls Paul over, and I was nearly certain Peter would earn the season’s first Paul Hollywood Handshake (patent pending). After some dramatic deliberation Paul and his hands moved on, though not before lavishing Peter with just enough praise to keep me happy, knowing that his sweet Scottish baby face will probably be around for a few more weeks. We do get a handshake, though, for the ever incredible Lottie and her “Quarantine Florentines.” Lottie also gets the year’s first Allison Robicelli Finger-Gun Salute (patent rejected) for bringing her grandparents into the public consciousness.
What’s clicking so well for me this year is how profoundly “normal” these bakers are—a quality I don’t think any of us appreciated enough before this year. I like to pretend that if this cursed virus wasn’t upon us, I could be friends with all of these people, and a badminton/life coach to 20-year-old Peter. As much as I love this show, the past few seasons didn’t have the same kind of charm that the early ones did, when it wasn’t a global phenomenon, but rather a twee BBC show about amateur bakers and lovely little cakes. This year feels like a return to The Great British Baking Show’s roots, with bakers seeming to care a lot more about having a good time than winning. Everyone involved with this season probably feels like a winner because they got to get the fuck out of the house.
Contestants are expected to have a such a thorough knowledge of the pastry arts that they can churn out perfect versions of whatever ludicrous bullcrap Paul and Prue demand, like Richmond Maids of Honor, or kek lapis sarawak, or a three-dimensional sculpture made out of at least three types of bread. Then, when they’re asked to make one of the easiest recipes in the entire cookie catalog, nobody knows what they fuck they’re doing. These people have nearly two hours to make cookies that I can slap together in less than 40 minutes on a bad day, and they still freak out about running short on time. Last week everyone was making human heads out of cake, and this week, two-thirds of the bakers can’t figure out what “cook until golden brown” means. I don’t understand how any of this is possible, but I appreciate their mistakes. I’m not doing anything perfectly right now and don’t expect to start anytime soon. As long as no one’s macaroons are made with rat poison and fiberglass, it’s all good in my book.
None of us need to pretend that this challenge comes even remotely close to the tour de force that was Cake Week, so there’s no point in going too deep into analyzing everyone’s showstoppers. Instead, let’s take some time to appreciate the talents of this week’s star baker, Dave. There’s so much to write about when it comes to this show that it’s hard to give everyone the attention they deserve (I still love you, Linda and Hermine!), and Cake Week was so exciting that I just blew past Dave’s incredible contributions. Let’s all pause and reflect upon both Dave’s remarkable taco-themed biscuit showstopper and his edible homage to Blink-182 guitarist/preeminent UFO activist Tom DeLonge:
Stare into Tom DeLonge’s eyes. Let him into your heart, and offer him your soul. This cake is our god now.
Rowan was nearly eliminated this week after making every single bad decision that presented itself, putting the #AllInForRowan ❤️🌈❤️ movement in serious trouble. Is he the best baker? No. Is he a delight? Yes, and that is all I require from him. It’s not like I actually get to taste any of these things. Instead, obscenely handsome novelist Mak is the one leaving us this Biscuit Week. If only he had worn a vest.