The Great British Bake-Off roundup: is this the worst Dessert Week ever?

Alison and Noel in The Great British Bake Off (Channel 4)
Alison and Noel in The Great British Bake Off (Channel 4)

"I like dessert," Saku says at the start of Week 7. "I like anything sweet, anything savoury. Any food.” Well, after the events of Dessert Week, it might have put her off for life.

This week, the bakers had a panoply of Seventies-inspired desserts to tackle: crème caramels to start, steamed sponges with custard for the Technical and a meringue ‘bombe’ (the non explosive kind, a sphere of meringue filled with a pudding) for the Showstopper.

Easy as pie? Not quite. This week saw catastrophic meltdowns, wild flavour combinations and the mother of all sulks from Paul. Read on for our recap of the highlights...

Biggest eye-roll

The cringey opening scenes aren’t getting any better: honestly, it’s a mystery that Bake Off’s producers insist on going ahead with them. This week has Alison attempt to tempt Noel with some rather literal recreations of puddings (including a cheesecake made with stilton and, horrors, a spotted dick). But even Hammond’s charisma doesn’t quite manage to pull it off: for the love of God, axe the mini-torture scenes.

Saku, Paul, Prue and Noel (Channel 4)
Saku, Paul, Prue and Noel (Channel 4)

Best quote

Paul and Prue’s demands that the bakers make a selection of desserts from the 1970s don’t go down too well with the bakers. After all, when was the last time somebody made a steamed sponge, or indeed a crème caramel?

“It sort of reminds me of being young,” Cristy says, working on her caramels. “Everything was very… brown.”

Most wholesome moment

Everybody’s in the family mood this episode. During the Signature bake, Saku reveals that her crème caramels are inspired by a Sri Lankan delicacy that her mother specialises in. “My mum, I want her to be proud,” she tells the camera.

Also, in that vein, shout-out to Josh for the very sweet photograph of his grandma that he keeps on his workbench to inspire him. She taught him to bake, and as he explains, crème caramels were one of her favourites (though maybe not the cinnamon and plum versions he’s making). “Do you know what I love about you?” Alison tells him. “That you always honour your nanny.”

Indeed – and Josh then goes for the knockout punch by explaining that the butterfly decorations on top are inspired by a thing his nan used to tell him: “Whenever you see a butterfly around, that’s me watching.” I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Most stressful moment

By far the most stressful (and hilarious) moment is when all the bakers underbake their steamed sponges by around 10 to 20 minutes (as Prue explains in the cutaway before the Technical starts, it needs 40). Is it stressful when the bakers aren’t stressed, but the viewer is?

“I don’t want to serve them anything underbaked,” Matty says, putting his cakes in the oven with about 20 minutes to go. Argh – and soon, the truth is realised when all the bakers’ skewers start coming back laden with dough, and raw lumps are served to the judges in the place of finished cakes. “They can’t eat these, they’re going to get ill!” Cristy cries, pouring her uncooked sponges onto the plate.

Even the hosts realise it. “This is a car crash,” Noel tells Alison, before offering the bakers a flask for their molten bakes. Paul walks into the tent, takes one look and walks back out again, before Prue pulls him back in again with a stern “it’s your duty”. Has a Technical ever gone this badly before?

Matty in The Great British Bake Off (Channel 4)
Matty in The Great British Bake Off (Channel 4)

Wildest flavour combo

Dan knocks this one out of the park on his first go by promising the judges that his crème caramels will include “the aromatic flavours of a Thai green curry.” “Good lord,” says Prue, and we don’t blame her: galangal, coriander root and lemongrass-flavoured custard, anybody? And anyway, it pays off: Paul describes the end result as “beautiful.”

Worst looking bake

I mean, how do you top all those sad, unbaked splodges that were supposed to be steamed puddings? Hands down the ugliest bakes of the episode – and perhaps the series.

Soggy bottoms

The smut-o-meter actually wobbles fairly low on the dial for this episode – barring, of course, an obligatory interjection by Alison.

“This is a quick one, isn’t it?” she tells Noel at the start of the Technical challenge, before adding (of course): “I love a quickie.” Tame by Alison’s standards, but at least it’ll fly over the heads of the kids.

Emotional breakdown of the week

Paul is in some kind of mood this week – after the disaster of the Technical, he’s adamant that the bombes the bakers are making for the Showstopper are nothing less than “perfection.”

“We can’t have Mr Hollywood disappointed again. He gets very bad tempered when he’s disappointed,” Prue tells the camera, and indeed he prowls the tent like an extremely ill-tempered panda.

“You seem to know what you’re talking about, but then again what does that mean,” he tells Matty after the latter explains his Italian-English bombe flavours and tells Saku “you let me down.” Angry Paul is here; let’s hope it’s not to stay.

Josh in The Great British Bake Off (Channel 4)
Josh in The Great British Bake Off (Channel 4)

Best-looking bake

“After the Technical challenge, we are expecting perfection,” Paul declares at the start of the Showstopper, and the bakers more or less deliver.

Josh brings forth a Wimbledon-inspired bombe shaped like a tennis ball, flavoured with champagne, strawberries and cream which Prue loves. “If Wimbledon did strawberries and cream like that it would be fantastic,” she says. Another standout is Dan’s planet-shaped bombe, which contains inside it a trifle themed to mimic the layers of the Earth’s core: a raspberry jelly for the core, trifle for the mantle and chocolate cake for the crust. Yum.

Hollywood handshakes?

The cruellest of handshakes: the non-shake. Paul offers Saku his hand while she’s midway through baking her Showstopper – only to whip it away when she reaches for it and thumb his nose at her instead. As we said: Angry Paul.

Star Baker?

With the disaster that is Dessert Week over and done with, it's finally time to crown the next Star Baker - and surprisingly, that proves to be Dan. His massive model of the Earth had to count for something, but still, it's hard to shake the feeling that Josh may have been robbed...

Who went home

Tragically there must be a contestant eliminated, and on this occasion that proves to be Saku. Not Saku! We're immediately starting a petition to bring her back for the next Special... the tent will be less entertaining without her.

The Great British Bake-Off airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4