Well well well. The nicest show on telly turned a little bit mean last night didn’t it? There was melting ice cream, sliding meringue, semi- decapitated swans and some gratuitous free publicity for Simple Human’s bin range on an otherwise advertisement free channel. Apparently, decisions regarding which products to use on the show are based on the reasons that can be given regarding what makes one particular brand better than another for the purpose at hand. When considering bins, obviously the receptacle’s design would need to be optimum in order to perform to the needs of the amateur bakers. Has it a good foot pedal? Does it soft close? Is it binny enough? I wonder, during the meeting regarding bin usage, whether they decided a Simple Human model may cope better with a (potentially) sticky slidey Baked Disaster than say, a Brabantia? HHhhhhhmmmmm. Ponderous. Must have been a riot in the office that day. In conclusion on this important issue, I suppose that Simple Human bins have some kind of inbuilt membrane to deal with (potentially) scrambled meringue, crispy swan’s necks and roasted sesame seeds.
So, I must move onto more pressing issues: Baked Alaskas and Self Saucing Puddings. Now, a self saucing pudding is generally taken out of the oven and thrown on the table in front of your guests with a disproportionately squeally presentation of stress. This is what happens on Masterchef, Come Dine With Me and at my house. ‘Quick! Get it on the table and order the guests….’
So, imagine my worry when the Food Researcher said to me (many moons ago, before I cried over cake), the puddings need to ooze. You can’t make a sauce and pour it on top. And there needs to be eight of them. And they need to stand out from the other nine bakers. Now this was before I had met the other bakers, so my idea of a sticky toffee pudding with a melting penuche (Italian fudge) centre seemed utterly clever to me. Thank god I had been booted before I realised the creative might of Luis. I would have looked like Neil Buchanan having a doodle off with Da Vinci. So when practising the self saucing puds at home I realised I was pretty damn good at these; providing of course they were out of the oven and on the table within seconds and attacked with a spoon immediately (with just a hint of a warning – that may impede this speed – that guests needed to blow on it to avoid third degree burns). Last night it appeared that the puds had been arranged, then benches cleaned down, then the beauty shots filmed and then, depending on who was lucky enough to go first; judged. If I had have been there I think I would have had the unlucky slot of last. I predict that had I been there, during the wait, my cake would have dried out, my fudge would have solidified and Paul and Mary would have ended up chomping on a bit of rubbery sponge with crystallised brown sugar that would no doubt have caused dental issues for both. But I suppose that for the bakers this did actually happen to, this was more about their poor grasp of physics. Obviously their understanding of changing physical states of matter that impacted their sponges inability to remain in a constant state regardless of environment or time wasn’t up to scratch. Get reading up on classical physics guys, you’re letting the side down.
And so we move on to Baked Alaska. Or Baked Disaster. Or Minging 70’s Dessert That Absolutely No-one Ever Wants To Eat Unless You Remake The Recipe/Design Into Something That Is Absolutely Not Traditional In Any Way Shape Or Form And Therefore Not Really A Baked Alaska. For me, you can put a Baked Alaska straight in the bin (*snigger*) with the Ile Flottante and the Charlotte Royale of last year. (The Charlotte Royale was the thing Frances, Kimberley, Beca and Ruby had to tackle in the technical. It looked like a comedy brain: the arrowroot slime was a bridge too far.) So, no love lost at all for this dessert for me.
Yes. Baked Alaska leaves me a little rattled. It is eggy and squishy and cold and warm all in one go. Not for me. Also, the Norwegian description of this dessert involves the word omelette. NO. No. No. No. No. NO. Leaves a little bit of a bad taste doesn’t it? Even without knowing what it is really like; what the flavours are or how it happens to show itself in real life when presented in all it’s glory. I suppose that is just my hypothesis of what this pudding would be like based on a few a contextual facts and a whole lot of supposition.
A bit like my disproportionate and uninformed dislike of a Baked Alaska, was what appeared to be the public reaction to the lovely Diana Beard: the tent’s resident ‘WI Aunty Di’. Now, can anyone think of someone more inoffensive? A lollipop lady perhaps? Or maybe your nana? Or maybe the leader of a local church knitting group? I’m fairly sure, when it comes to villains, Diana is not going to be scaring Lex Luther off the top spot at any point in the future. A bit like myself seeing an offensive pudding in the Baked Alaska, based on fairly ropey descriptions and lack of experience with it, it would appear that based on a few seconds of telly, the country had decided Diana was a mean old lady with a Machiavellian streak in her make up and her heart set on sabotage. Apart from the fact that this is a show about cake and puddings and doesn’t actually have a prize at the end of it (unless you count the cake stand), we must ask ourselves: how are we so easily coming to this conclusion? Are we that easily swayed into thinking so negatively of someone? And once again, reminiscent of the comments I received for being fat, the vitriol is just immense in some of the words uttered. It would appear that those on Twitter and in the media did not take into account a thousand different factors. Namely, Diana has not been labelled or cast in a negative light before, so why now? Why all of a sudden was it deemed necessary to cobble together varying bits of film that thrust Diana in a negative light, particularly when the outcome was already known: that is, Iain was going to throw his cake in the bin. Is it not slightly worrying that as viewers, we do not question the story being delivered to our eyes? Why are we not asking the obvious questions? Suppose we consider the following, and question the things we have been told:
1.You wouldn’t share an oven when creating a cake in a contest such as this for a plethora of reasons; temperature distribution, space, energy concentration and dilution, warm spots, cold spots, needing to open the oven at differing times and disturbing the constance of the temperature. It is exactly same with a freezer. So if you are in a contest and you haven’t been given the means within which to complete the required element, then it is certainly not the baking at fault. Granted, you could have had everything you need and your creation still be complete bobbins, but that is when we know that your baking is crap, not your equipment. Suppose everyone had their own freezer (and not three between 9 bakers). Would there have been the #bincident? No-one really knows. Would Diana be vilified? No, of course not.
2. There is a tent FULL of people when filming. There are groups of people assigned to buzz around you, filming you, running off for ingredients, asking you questions. NOT A THING goes unnoticed, as everything is filmed for potential use in the show. Why hasn’t someone picked the ice cream up and said ‘whose is this ice cream? it is going to melt’. Or said to Diana ‘just shout Iain and get him to move his ice cream’. How do we know that the bakers weren’t asked to stand at stations for a particular shot and in that time lapse the ice cream was forgotten? Bakers are told that they are not there to be made a fool of. ‘The show is about the bakers and the baking’ is the continual mantra. But if someone saw the ice cream was out, and there isn’t a motive for ‘drama’, then why was it not placed back in the freezer or Iain notified?
3. Why are they picking on a pensioner? Suppose the media stance is true (I was not there), then the ice cream was out of the freezer for 40 seconds. Not long enough to turn to ice cream into soup unless you are living on the Sun. Is it not possible that she took it out, rearranged hers, forgot it and then got flustered when she realised what she had done 40 seconds later? Careful….she might hatch a plan to take over the world….. If it was such a short amount of time, why on earth did they think it was appropriate to put in a clip that would more likely than not cast Diana in a bad light, it clearly wouldn’t have made any difference to the outcome of Iain’s dessert. Also, if they were that adamant that behaviour is important in the judging process (Iain’s bin chucking behaviour was labelled as ‘unacceptable’ by Mary) then surely if it was believed that a contestant had truly ‘sabotaged’ then their behaviour would too be called into question? And if the behaviour wasn’t ‘sabotage’ then why on earth was it shown? To pick on a pensioner?
Now I wasn’t there, and I only know what the rest of the UK saw. However, from this, I suppose it could be surmised that maybe a freezer each may have been practical and less stressful and meant disasters could be averted. It’s common sense that one freezer with three lots of ice cream has to work harder than one freezer with one lot of ice cream. That’s without considering constant door opening and warm spots. Suppose this way, Iain, a wonderfully talented man, would have not pushed himself to the brink and ended his time on the show in such a castastrophic (and charismatic) way. Suppose Iain had had his own personal freezer and his ice cream was still dribbly and he still threw it in the bin? Suppose Diana removed the ice cream and Iain’s Alaska was still a resounding success? Suppose Diana did take some ice cream from a freezer and she did tell someone? Suppose it was acknowledged and filmed but no one acted upon it? Suppose she didn’t roll her eyes at Iain’s reaction, but at the chaos in the tent or at her cracked swan’s necks, but the way it looked told a different story? Suppose she assumed that the bakers on the other side of the tent had their own freezers? Suppose Iain reacted but then realised it had only been out of the freezer for a few seconds? Suppose Iain presented his Alaska with the cake and meringue and a jug of melted ice cream? Suppose Iain and Diana had talked about the apparent ‘sabotage’ and realised it was all a misunderstanding and in the grand scheme of things Iain’s Baked Alaska may still have been a bit dribbly (if of course it wasn’t destined to be trashy)?. Suppose Iain left because he threw his cake in the bin and didn’t give anything to the judges? Suppose Diana is a Machiavellian Women’s Institute granny hell bent on bringing the Bake Off into disrepute? Who knows? We see a certain sequence of actions that may not necessarily paint an accurate picture.
What I do know is a really lovely cakey bakey show has turned a bit mean. Again. I spoke to a lady this morning that is a Mum, a Gran, a wife, an Aunt and a former WI member. She is gutted that she has been shown to look like a mean old lady when the reality in the tent – and subsequently – among the bakers is one of camaraderie and friendship. I spoke with a lovely, gentle (and very handsome) Northern Irish gentleman who has had a wonderful time on the Bake Off, does not think that Diana’s mistake with his ice cream (should it have had any adverse affect or not) directly triggered his actions, though we are not really sure whether it did cause a problem or not. Again, this 40 second phrase continues to be called into question. Iain, incidentally seems to be a bit of a hero. Bin-Cake-Maverick. And rightly so. I admire a person that would rather stand tall and admit defeat than present some substandard misrepresentation of his passions and values. Maybe Simple Human might give him a contract? All along we were told ‘it’s all about the bakers and the baking’. And I have made eleven awesome chums and we swap recipes and eat each other’s cake. This mantra it seems stands true, for us at least.
Suppose we didn’t just believe what others present to our eyes without question. Suppose we decide to hate a person based on their inhumanity and not their re-organisation of ice cream containers. Suppose all this hurt and upset is merely about cake. Suppose we take a step back and just get a little perspective here people.