Those of you who have read every post may be feeling a sense of deja vu at seeing my selection for this post. Hasn’t GBBO been covered already? Well yes, it has, but that was two years ago and that seems a fair gap to return to it. Besides, all some writers ever talk about is Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, so it seems only fair that my own TV obsession gets a second moment in the sun.

The fourth series of this most genteel of reality programmes began this week with that most tried-and-tested crowd pleaser: cake. Of course, to begin with such a genre of baking risks laying the show bare to its many stereotypes, not least the fact it is all a bit WI garden party with some innuendo thrown in. Yet cake allows the amateur bakers personality to shine through at such an early stage in a way that some bread rolls or a quiche would not. Besides, when so little is known about the contestants at this early stage the produce needs to easily create an ‘ooh’ factor from the viewers until our attachment to the gang is formed.

This year sees the usual wide variety of challengers for the title, with some coming to the fore earlier than others, and not necessarily for the right reasons. Robert, a nice, amiable man, got most of his screen time through being the strongest performer in the field alone, but others had disasters beamed across the nation. Ruby made a total mess of both her signature sandwich cake and the technical challenge of angel food cake. Ali, who clearly had some skill judging by his sandwich cake, went to pot as the weekend wore on. The biggest disappointment came from Toby, a slightly posh, quite eccentric, but charmingly jolly individual who I had foolishly pegged as a potential winner after his quietly impressive signature bake. Then he put salt instead of sugar into the angel food cake and lost both his thumbs and his also his nerve during the showstopper, producing a burnt, underwhelming mess. His departure was as regrettable as it was predictable.

There were triumphs as well – Howard, this years Brendan-figure, produced a Black Forest chocolate cake worthy of a patisserie window, whilst Frances’s secret squirrel, and less than secret squirrel avec hazelnuts, cake, reminded us amongst the bloodshed, tears and nervous breakdowns this completion can be fun and cheeky as well in a way that something like Masterchef is not.

No doubt there are more stories to be told as the numbers dwindle and dark horses emerge from the pack. I for one have both Kimberley and Deborah down as late bloomers, and think some of the savoury challenges could see Ali restore some of his early promise. But this episode belonged to Robert, who frustratingly proved that to be good at the art of something, knowing the science is a massive help.

 

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