Let me preface this by saying I do not cook. But those who can’t cook watch. Because despite my own lack of any discernible finesse in the kitchen, I can’t resist devouring culinary shows. My favorite is The Great British Baking Show, and not just because I think Mary Berry is the loveliest human being (even though she is). A large part of what endears the show to me so much is the fact that that — after we binge-watched it when she had the flu last year — my now-7-year-old daughter, Marlow, is hooked too.
So it goes without saying we’ve been waiting not so patiently for the return of the delightful British baking competition. Since this season will be the last with Berry and hilarious hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, my daughter and I decided long ago we’d tune in for the women’s final hurrah. But instead of just reviewing the premiere myself as I would normally do, I decided instead to pick Marlow’s beautiful little brain for her perspective.
The Signature Challenge
Mere moments into the premiere, the judges appear on-screen, to which Marlow exclaims, “Mary Berry! I’ve missed that fancy lady!” (Told you — we’re big fans in this household). Berry and co-judge Paul Hollywood explain to contestants that they will be making a sponge cake for their first challenge, and the home chefs begin whipping up beautiful batters. “I wish this show was edible,” Marlow muses. “You know, like in Willy Wonka when they send the candy bar through the TV. Except I don’t want to get shrunk.” This observation has merit, no?
When Ryan from Bristol states he will be using kumquats and polenta in his cake, worry furrows Marlow’s brows. “What is polenta? Is he making a cake out of grits?” That doubt pales in comparison, though, to Stuart’s decision to use tomato in his sponge. “Who wants to put tomato in cake? I like tomato pie. But c’mon, it’s cake. That’s kinda weird.”
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This isn’t the first or the last time Marlow will refer to Stuart as weird, although she adds that she still likes him. In 7-year-old girl speak, that means she thinks he’s cute. And since he looks a bit like Scott Eastwood, Mama agrees.
Coming out of the first round, Marlow also has strong feelings about James (“he has the cutest dogs in the world”), Cathryn (“she has two kids, like you”), and Manisha (“her name sounds cool”). Sarah Jane may have the edge, though, because her sponge cake included hazelnut. “I like hazelnut ‘cause that means Nutella,” Marlow states. “And Nutella is delicious.”
The Technical Challenge
Next, the home chefs are tasked with baking one of Hollywood’s favorite recipes: rum baba. If you aren’t sure what that is, Marlow says to think of it like a cream doughnut with cream outside the hole instead of inside. Still confused? So were the chefs.
This challenge doesn’t impress Marlow because she says that Hollywood should have given the chefs more instructions to go by. She also feels as though this round may have caused a ripple in the time-space continuum. “What does she mean they only have five minutes left?! Time goes by so fast there. Way faster than normal time.”
Plus, she was admittedly distracted from the baking in this round by hygiene. “Shouldn’t these people have put gloves on? I hope they washed their hands!” she says, later asking, “That guy really sweats a lot. Do you think his sweat goes into the cake and Mary Berry eats it?”
The Showstopper Challenge
For the third and final challenge, the home chefs must create a cake with a hidden design inside. If judging were left up to Marlow, Sarah Jane and Cathryn would have won by a mile because they designed cakes with a princess crown and cupcake (respectively) tucked beneath the surface.
However, she concedes that maybe the judges know what they’re doing when they give top honors to Victoria, whose clever nursery rhyme pie-cake was pretty darn elaborate. The tides quickly turn, though, when they send home Natasha — a friendly mom who Marlow insists “looks like she gives good hugs.”
As the episode draws to a close, I ask Marlow what she thought overall. “I loved it!” she gushes. “All of the bakers did really good. And these British people all sound so nice, like they’re talking to their preacher.”
She pauses for a moment, prompting me to wonder aloud if she had something else on her mind. She cocks her head, looks at me and responds, “Are you hungry? ‘Cause I am. My dreams tonight really are gonna be sweet!”