SU2C Bake Off 2020: close encounters in the tent

The Bake Off tent has never shied away from a double entendre or innuendo, but this week things got downright dirty. Never in my life have I heard the word ‘poo’ uttered so much in a baking show.

I blame The Inbetweeners actor James Buckley for this. He was knee-deep in sponge and he looked to make cakes and ‘special fwends’ for The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off.

Although this wasn’t enough to distract from the tent’s main attraction this week – academy award winner Richard Dreyfuss. Such is the power of his stardom that the other contestants (EastEnders actress Patsy Palmer and Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffatt) were basically giddy. What’s more, even my boyfriend and long-time sufferer of my Bake Off habit ventured to the sofa to watch his antics.

Dreyfuss was less starstuck by the event. “I’m not going to add this to my resumé,” he said.

For their first challenge the contestants were asked to whip up a roulade. Most of them kept it pretty classic, with James, Richard and Patsy opting for chocolate with cream or vanilla fillings. Not Scarlett, though. In a tribute to Alice in Wonderland, she made an unbirthday cake purple-coloured vanilla sponge, with strawberry Irish cream liqueur buttercream.

“I’m just going to put alcohol in it, so the judges are too drunk to taste it,” she said.

Alas, no amount of alcohol could save this monstrosity and, given how messy she’d got in the process, it would be fair to question whether she’d be sampling the booze as well. Turns out, you shouldn’t whisk the life out of cake batter while it’s still on! Who knew?

“You need a machete to get through that,” Paul said when judging the pink and purple roulade. In another blow, it was dubbed “inedible” by Prue, who was far more appreciative of James’ efforts. “I’d gobble the whole lot up,” she said.

“I was ready for a fight,” James said in response. “I don’t know how to take praise.”

Patsy, meanwhile, suffered from over-whipped cream and a “cardboard-like” flourless sponge while the rather messy (and folded rather than rolled) roulade from Richard turned out to be delicious.

Patsy Palmer in the Bake Off tent

On to the technical – making six cannoli filled with an orange and ginger cream. Scarlett’s technical prowess continued to shine through, with comments such as “Egg isn’t a dry ingredient, is it?” and “Marsala? Like chicken tikka masala?”

The others also struggled as the pasta-maker caused issued for pretty much everyone when it came to rolling out the cannoli dough.

Prue, meanwhile, struggled with the concept of anonymous judging. “That’s the best,” she declared, after trying James’ cannoli. “Nice crack and nice flavour,” Paul added. Cue giggling from the tent (and from my sofa). The word crack, like buns, will always be funny.

After some deliberating, the judges named Scarlett second best, Richard third and Patsy last.

Scarlett Moffatt and Prue Leith in the Bake Off tent

Next came the showstopper, where the quartet were tasked with creating a cake of at least two tiers that represented their favourite place. This is where the humour became rather toilet-based.

James kicked things off by creating a cake in honour of his favourite place, the toilet. The vanilla sponge was complete with a few Malteser ‘nuggets’. Just typing that made me cringe.

“Anal hygiene is something that is very close to my heart,” James said, with a grin.

Patsy, or as Paul called her ‘pasty’, went somewhat more wholesome in a tribute to her garden that overlooks the sea in Malibu. It’s alright for some. Scarlett’s was closer to my heart – she aimed to depict herself on the sofa, dressed as a mermaid, with the sofa on a beach.

In a spot of fan service, Richard set out to create a chocolate version of the volcano from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Chaos ensued. James fell behind so Noel and Sandi helped decorate his toilet cake.

Upon presenting it, he said: “I can’t even look you in the eye.” I’m not surprised. I can barely look at my TV.

The judges were brave enough to tuck in, though, and praised the buttercream, even if the cake was a tad overbaked. “Delicious nugget,” Noel chuckled as he took a bite.

Inbetweeners star Jame Buckley crafting his toilet cake

Scarlett’s was also too dry and rather scruffy, with the fondant scraggily draped over the sponge sofa. Patsy’s was somewhat more put together with its ombre frosting and edible flowers placed neatly on top. It hit the mark for the judges as well, who said it was “spot on”.

The same could not be said of Richard’s mound of chocolate cake. “Nothing negative that you could possibly say about this I haven’t already said,” Richard announced.

“It does remind me of an emoji,” Paul added.

“Close encounters of the turd kind,” Sandi joked. I’m going to miss her when Matt Lucas takes over.

It’s fair to say that Scarlett and Richard were, sadly, out of the running for star baker, leaving Patsy and James to battle it out.

And the winner is… James. Turns out a crude cake, some casual swearing and a bit of luck can get you far in the Bake Off tent.

As his Inbetweeners character, Jay, would likely say: “Bake Off? Completed it mate.”

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