Episode One –The Random Menace (That’ll be the Battenburg)

The Signature Challenge

The morning we began filming felt surreal to say the least. The nerves that prevented me from eating breakfast, the tentative first steps in the tent and trying to adjust to the presence of the cameras were absurd and terrifying to me from the very start. After the introduction, a warm welcome and some top-drawer baking puns from Anna we began baking, something that’s near muscle-memory for all of us. My nerves were going crazy and I totally forgot how to read (my own recipe, which I had written and practically knew off by heart!) or speak. The friendly cameramen asked us questions as we went along and my ability to form sentences went out the window.

I was in a fluster the entire way through the bake, I never relaxed into it. By the time Anna told us there were 15 minutes left I was about 10 minutes behind. With two minute to go I was hurriedly throwing praline at the sides of my cake. With 30 seconds to go I realised I didn’t have enough praline for the back. It wasn’t until after time was called that I remembered that I’d left my chocolate spokes in the fridge. Having the judges approach my station is up there with the scariest things I’ve experienced (I’ve led a charmed life, what can I say?!) and my stomach sank before they’d even tasted it. My friends commented on how sad I looked during the judging but I’ve honestly never felt so defeated in my life! We were all ready for critiquing but it just seemed so relentless as they made their way around the tent. My feedback was fair, they really know what they’re talking about and I have since introduced a lime flavour to my vanilla sponge to lift the taste and taken 5 minutes off the bake time to reduce the drying effect. It didn’t look nearly as good as I wanted it to. Here’s one of its previous incarnations.


That bottle of Frangelico was burning a hole in my proverbial pocket so I’ve turned my attentions towards consuming it in more exciting ways (my favourite is below):


The Technical Challenge

In we wandered, 12 new friends, walking in formation into a beautiful tent on a gorgeous sunny day. The atmosphere did not befit the beauty of the day –the fear of the impending technical was getting to us and the uncertainty of what lay ahead was so daunting we had silence at breakfast for the first time. We had, of course, been brain-storming and debating the potential cake challenges but to no avail. The involuntary gasps that escaped from the 12 of us when we heard the word battenburg were so funny that it was closely followed by laughter. I think the biggest relief was that we all at least knew what it SHOULD look like!

I can’t remember much of the bake, it’s a total blur and watching it back did nothing to jog my memory! It’s always easier to make something you like and I’m really not a fan of battenburg, I can’t stand almond paste. Paul’s flavours were a really nice touch though, I really enjoy using lemon and rose in sponges so that helped a bit.

To get placed second was absolutely amazing! I was (and I do believe this is my first time ever using the word, so you know I mean it) flabbergasted!

All in all, episode one was such a rollercoaster, each bake is like a rollercoaster in itself really. Roll on episode two!



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