Great Celebrity Bake Blog 2019: Episode One

Never have I heard the word “vagina” uttered on a non-medical TV show quite as frequently as it was in the Bake Off tent last night.

That’s the kind of influence Russell Brand has on an otherwise wholesome show.

Sure, we’re used to the playful innuendos and double entendres, but to hear Prue Leith utter the words “you’ve got this great big vagina” was, quite frankly, what we’ve all been waiting for.

And so we enter the second series of Great British Bake Off: Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Russell was joined by comedian Jon Richardson, American actor John Lithgow and Paralympian Hannah Cockroft.

Brownies were the dish of the day for the signature challenge – 12 decorated brownies. Though why brownies need decorating is beyond me.

Russell created football idol brownies based on West Ham’s 1986 line-up; Hannah made cookies & cream brownies, complete with cookie on top; while John drizzled his with cognac and topped them with hand-iced US and UK flags to represent our “special relationship”.

Jon, meanwhile, concocted vegan orange and ginger brownies. “It’s important for me to have the moral high ground in case I don’t win,” he said. Besides the brownies, his main concerns seemed to be the washing up and cleanliness of his station and criticising the tent’s choice of carpet in the kitchen – lino is the obvious choice, he explained.

He did get complimented for his lovely cleaning, although the texture of his brownies was off. Russell’s varied between overcooked and perfect, depending on where they were in the tray, and Hannah’s were also overbaked. John’s, meanwhile, were declared delicious.

On to the technical: making a striped orange and black Swiss roll filled with jam and cream. For John Lithgow it was a spectacular disaster. “It looks like a Swiss guard’s discarded underwear,” he said.

Paul and Prue seemed to agree as he came last in the technical, followed by Russell and Hannah who, in fairness, didn’t do a bad job. There was no denying that comedian Jon knocked it out of the park.

Into the showstopper and the birth of Russell’s legendary biscuit vagina. Prue did say she was hoping for something unusual in a challenge, with the bakers tasked with creating 3D biscuits of their finest performances, featuring 24 biscuits. Clearly, she got her wish.

“I’m commemorating, in the medium of biscuit, the birth of my second daughter,” Russell declared. “The vagina frames everything in this biscuit diorama,” which features a shortbread version of Russell and women in a birthing pool.

Jon’s was also amusing, albeit less risqué, opting for a vegan madras curry biscuit featuring a scene from his stand-out role as the donkey in his primary school’s nativity play.

Hannah was somewhat more sensible about her choice of biscuit display, opting for a lemon shortbread depicting her double gold medal win at the London 2012 Paralympics, while John created a gingerbread version of 10 Downing Street to commemorate his role as Churchill in The Crown.

It was a rather impressive display, even if he did manage to give the Queen a black eye thanks to his rustic icing style and make his gingerbread a bit soft. Jon’s was held together by his love and “sheer affection for the whole process”. The judges ruled his dough was overworked, resulting in tough but tasty biscuits. Hannah’s were also deemed delicious, but she was let down by the design.

Russell’s scene, meanwhile, was well-baked, “complex, funny and delicious”, according to Prue, although he was a bit short of the 24 biscuit criteria. “I know you wanted 24, Prue, but would you take a glance at those labia and tell me it’s not adequate?” he said.

Can you argue with that? It seems not as Russell was, perhaps rather surprisingly, revealed to be the episode’s star baker and the proud owner of a Stand Up 2 Cancer pinny.

“I shall wear this with nothing else on,” he said. Now that’s an interesting mental image to leave with.

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