The Great British Baking Show season premiere recap: ‘Cakes’ and ‘Biscuits’

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Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, with Hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. Photo: Courtesy of Mark Bourdillon, © Love Productions, image via PBS press

The tent has opened once more for The Great British Baking Show, with a new group of bakers testing their mettle against cakes and cookies.

For those who don’t like heading out on a Friday night, it’s tough to beat The Great British Baking Show for relaxation. But in case you missed any of the baking action, here’s what went down on last night’s double premiere.

First up was our first signature challenge of the season: make a drizzle cake. Mel and Sue warned that it’s Paul Hollywood’s favorite cake. Speaking of, he dubbed it a “back to basics” challenge (though warned the judging wouldn’t lighten up), and Mary Berry wanted people to try and be a little more creative.

Benjamina’s Pistachio and Lemon Drizzle Cake. Still from the Great British Baking Show S4E1. Image via PBS

In order of judging, here’s how everyone did:

  • Benjamina: Pistachio Cardamom and Lemon Drizzle Cake. High tier. “Well done,” said Paul.
  • Lee: St. Clements Orange and Lemon Drizzle Cake. Mid tier. Bad texture, but good flavor.
  • Michael: Lime, Ginger, and Honey Drizzle Cake. A solid mid-tier. Missing drizzle, but a good ginger cake.
  • Kate: Berry Best Apple and Bramble Drizzle Cake. Mid tier. Missing the berry, but didn’t seem to be tripped up by fruit.
  • Tom: G+T Drizzle Cake. Mid tier. Heavy on the gin (even for Mary), but a good sponge.
  • Candice: Raspberry and Rhubarb Drizzle Custard Bundt Cake. Mid-to-high tier. Pudding texture, but great flavor.
  • Rav: Ginger Spice Yuzu Drizzle Cake. Mid-to-low tier. “Watch your flavors,” said Paul.
  • Andrew: Lemon and Rosemary Drizzle Cake. Mid tier. Lacking lemon.
  • Louise: Orange Liqueur and Lemonade Drizzle Cake. Low tier. Missing flavors, kind of messy-looking, and too dense.
  • Val: Mum’s Orange and Lemon Drizzle Cake. Low tier. Very dry in particular.
  • Selasi: Citrus and Spice Drizzle Cake. High tier, making up for his cinnamon error in the drizzle.
  • Jane: Lemon and Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake. High tier. Save the best for last, right? “Beautiful” flavor, per Paul.

Having survived that first challenge, next, Mary gave the bakers their first technical challenge of the season: 12 jaffa cakes in two hours. She advised they “keep to that order” (as in, the recipe she gave, unhelpful though it often was. “Make a jelly”? Really? This early in the season?).

Mary Berry’s jaffa cakes. Still from the Great British Baking Show S7E1. Image via PBS

Technical challenge results:

  1. Selasi. Never made the cake? No problem.
  2. Tom. Just some minor chocolate issues.
  3. Michael. Some jelly issues, but overall good.
  4. Kate.  Particularly strong sponge.
  5. Candice. Good flavors
  6. Benjamina. Messy, but tasted good.
  7. Jane. Had one cake upside down.
  8. Rav. Chocolate issues.
  9. Louise. “Uniform…ly bad,” said Paul.
  10. Val. Messy, trimmed bottoms to her cakes.
  11. Lee. Messy presentation with chocolate.
  12. Andrew. Cakes were upside down.

Finally came the showstopper. The bakers got three whole hours this time to put together a mirror glaze cake. Genoise sponge was also a must, although several bakers had to then restart when their first attempts didn’t come out as light and airy as they could be.

Andrew’s Ultimate Indulgence Mirror Glaze Cake. Still from The Great British Baking Show S7E1. Image via PBS

In order of judging, here’s how everyone did:

  • Jane: Chocolate Orange Mirror Glaze Cake. “I like it,” said Mary, which is high praise.
  • Rav: Colombian Mocha Mirror Glaze Cake. Better on the flavors, not so much better on the sponge
  • Tom: Black Forest Broken Mirror Glaze Cake. Actually needed more liquor. Yes, really.
  • Michael: Matcha Tea Chocolate Mirror Glaze Cake. Mary compared the matcha to grass.
  • Selasi: Raspberry, Sloe, and White Chocolate Mirror Glaze Cake. Insides were great, but the outside wasn’t shiny enough.
  • Val: Chocolate Sponge with Four Fruit Frosting. The buttercream inside had the wrong sugar.
  • Lee: Strawberry Surprise Mirror Glaze Cake. Dry sponge, and really needed cream.
  • Louise: White Chocolate Trifle Mirror Glaze Cake. “Delicious,” said Paul, but lacking the glaze.
  • Benjamina: White Chocolate Mirror Glaze Cake with Salted Praline Buttercream. Looked good, tasted good.
  • Candice: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Shiniest Cake of Them AllNot great on the Genoise, but tasted good.
  • Andrew: “Ultimate Indulgence” Mirror Glaze Cake. “Stunning,” said both Mary and Paul at different points (she for presentation, he overall).

Even though Andrew impressed in the showstopper, with Selasi and Benjamina also placing high this week, Jane became the first Star Baker of the season. Meanwhile, on the low end were Val and Candice, with Lee ultimately going home first.

But wait! There’s a second episode of The Great British Baking Show to cover!