Halftime Leisure

Return of the tent: My knight in shining gingham

October 14, 2020

Spoilers for GBBO Series 11 (Netflix Season 8), Episode 1 Ahead!

Let me set the scene: it is September 2020. Times are bleak. Instead of wallowing over my first midterms in a bopping, renovated Vil B, I wallow alone in a nest of spare sweatpants and too-empty notebooks, surrounded on four sides by endless 2006-era Indianapolis Colts memorabilia—tragic reminders of a more triumphant, simpler time. Though I am endlessly grateful to be safe and healthy, life in my parents’ basement is less than thriving. That is, until it happened. While mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, an image catches my eye. Could it be… could it really be… it IS. A cake. A simple cake. On a freaking. Gingham. Tablecloth. With “coming soon” floating above it in a font I can only describe as “jovial.” I know then that all will be well. I will make it through the next 10 weeks. A brand new, COVID-19 era season of The Great British Baking Show, with all of the simple joys of pastel stand mixers, Union Jack pennants, a certain set of steely blue eyes with a questionably large ego, and a gingham altar, has been my savior. Since this weekly viewing is, quite literally, the most exciting thing on my to-do list, you, my reader, will be subjected to my thoughts. 

This pandemic-era season marks many-a-change to the world’s most, and I will hear no questions or opposition on this, beloved show of all time. One of the most obvious is a new host, British comedian Matt Lucas. Though I liked his predecessor Sandi, Lucas seems to gel better with returning host Noel Fielding, who I must say was born for life in the tent. In his debut, Lucas demonstrated a) an excellent derisively playful Boris Johnson cold open, b) a serious time-calling promise, and c) an utterly adorable presence. He’s so excited to be there! As he should be—he seems like a nice man, but I would definitely stab him with a cake dowel for his job. Lessons from Matt from this week: never eat a realistic marzipan fruit with a WHOLE CLOVE as a stem. Good lord… my repressed post-wisdom tooth surgery dry socket recovery memories were resurfacing.

So, you may be asking yourself how a new season of GBBO could even be happening. The season was filmed during quarantine, and all of the contestants, crew, and judges lived together in a lil’ bubble. How cute! Crazy how these things work if everyone is willing to follow the rules. I am curious how it will play out though, as I feel like part of the joy of GBBO is that contestants get to go home and practice for a week with their families before returning to the tent. The knowledge that they get to go home to recharge definitely seems to keep them going, so I’m curious about how this will affect their relationships with each other and their motivations throughout the season. Also… the thought of the judges/hosts low key living together for weeks on end is so hilarious to me. Prue has really wonderfully grown into her role here, and, together, Paul and Prue would make for an entertaining dinner party.

As the season premiere, of course this week was ~cake week~. The Signature featured a Battenberg cake, just to remind global viewership that “THIS IS BRITISH TELLY,” if the accents and aforementioned Union Jack pennants didn’t do that enough. The Technical featured miniature pineapple upside-down cakes, which I didn’t realize was a British thing? They were pretty, but all of the contestants struggled. The Showstopper was… weird…. “Bust cake?” As in a statue of a person? To say the least, not a single bust cake was a head above the rest *wink wink*. (Wow, I feel the need to apologize; that was horrific, but I feel it’s something Matt Lucas would definitely say. Another reason I should have his job.) Returning to the busts, they were impressively bad. I certainly could not do better, but oh my Lord. I think it was a challenge of too much artistry too early on in the season. Warning: Laura’s Freddie Mercury will give you nightmares. 

Finally, thoughts on this years’ dozen individuals! To start out, our token talented young’un, a lil’ 20-year-old QT named Peter who plays badminton. He is giving me pure Henry (series 10) vibes. I could not bestow a higher compliment on my firstborn child. I loved Loreia up to the point where she introduced the flavors for her Signature bake. HOW do you watch all of GBBO and not know not to run far away from artificial flavorings, especially heavy ones? Bubblegum and cream soda are bold, and together, in a classic British cake? Questionable. Other personal favorites? Hermine seems quite talented, and I’m excited to see what she turns out for patisserie week. I’m also seriously vibing with Lottie’s how-am-I-here-I’m-a-hot-mess-help vibes and feel like I can count on Rowan and Mak for both some good zingers and some classic GBBO not-so-subtle innuendos.

So, what were the results? SPOILERS HERE!

Star Baker: Peter! Eek! He seems like such a nice boy.

Sent home: Loreia; I was really hoping her cute baby blue bubblegum Battenberg would pay off, but I can’t say I was surprised that it was a bit too much for the judges.

See you next week, bakers!


Katie Woodhouse
Katie Woodhouse is a junior in the college studying psychology, chemistry, and music. Her great loves are cooking, baking, and her fish Edward Cullen. Her very realistic life goals include becoming a low key reality TV star and spending her winnings on a petite cafe/wine bar in the outskirts of Paris. Come to her with thoughts on food, the Midwest, British television, and prospective donations towards the aforementioned ventures.

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