It’s Pastry Week on The Great British Baking Show, and across the pond, “pastry” means pie dough, “tart” means pie, and “crusty slag” means Paul Hollywood.
Before I knew anything about the outcome, I knew that this week’s recap would be a Linda appreciation post. Her bakes haven’t been all that memorable, but goddamn if this woman isn’t an absolute delight. The past few seasons of The Great British Baking Show have jammed younger bakers down our throats, and while the producers succeeded in making the show at least 36% sexier, they also made it about 83% less charming. There are already young sexy people everywhere! I do not need any more young sexy people! I came to this show many years ago in search of adorable bakers that could populate my coziest fantasies. Young people are no fun to watch, because they’re all frantic and self-conscious, and never seem to be having any sort of fun. Older people are just happy to be there, living their lives with zero fucks to give.
Another problem I’ve had with the casting of young people: I am very uncomfortable with how good they are at baking. I think about this every time I look at wide-eyed babe in the woods Peter, who at only 20 years of age is a strong favorite to win this year. In the first episode of this, season 11, he told the judges that he’d been watching the show for over half his life. After enjoying the light in Paul Hollywood’s eyes grow a little bit dimmer as he pondered his own mortality, it hit me that some of these youths are so good simply because baking is all that they do. Outside of school, which is mandatory and boring, baking is “their thing” and they have been training for this show years, since before they even started puberty. Every time a young contestant talks about their hobbies, it’s never anything cool like shooting dice—it’s garbage like this:
I look at Peter and see a young man who knows little of the world besides baking, badminton, and his brother’s gluten intolerance. This is why Peter is able to make beautiful fish-shaped Cornish pasties with a kedgeree filling that everyone fawns over. That’s the sort of finery you can give your all to when the real world hasn’t broken you yet.
Everyone else’s pasties are pretty dandy, too, though Linda made more of a samosa than a pasty. Does she let this get her down? Nah. Linda’s not going to ruin this whole experience for herself by getting stressed out. Linda is the kind of person I aspire to be more like every single day, and I wish to purchase an inspirational calendar devoted to her wisdom.
I like a fancy eclair just as much as the next person, but this challenge from Prue is completely ridiculous. There’s too many different components, too many finicky temperatures, too many technical skills to test, and not nearly enough time for all of it. This is one of the challenges that’s meant to set everyone up for failure, and as such I will not allow myself to be emotionally baited by it.
Peter wins this challenge, as he was the only person who made anything close to whatever unrealistic expectations Prue had. Linda was a goddamn disaster top to bottom, messing up every single thing that was expected of her, and guess how she reacted?
I have not said these words in decades, but right now, there is no better option: Linda, YOU GO, GIRL.
I don’t think much about putting foods in cages in my personal life, and this episode made me wonder why that is. As far as 3D challenges go, this one was pretty simple, since
pie crust pastry holds its shape very well and can be made into cages, coffins, or ramshackle lean-tos rather easily. I could build little prisons for all my food if I so desired, but I am a kind and benevolent ruler who wants her food to run wild and free, to feel the cool breeze and sunshine before I pulverize it with my powerful molars.
Unbelievably, this round wasn’t utterly disastrous, which is something I normally expect from any 3D challenge. Everyone’s tarts were gorgeous, and with the exception of Mark, who used rough puff even though he knew it wouldn’t work, and Linda, who underestimated the importance of horizontal bracing, everyone’s cages held up rather well. High fives for nearly everybody!
Laura—yes, Laura—was crowned Star Baker, despite the fact that she used a lattice cutter for her cage, which I personally feel is cheating. Linda, sadly, has to go home, which she does with smiles, hugs, and plenty of good feelings.
If anyone at The Great British Baking Show has unblocked me on Twitter and finds themselves reading this, please, please, pleeeeease give us an all-gran season. because we need guidance and wisdom just as badly as we need tasty bakes.