Great British Bake Off 2020: Japanese Week

Shutterstock / bonchan © great british bake off

For the first time ever on the Great British Bake Off: The Quest For More Gimmicks, it’s Japanese Week.

This seemed a little off-the-wall, but themed episodes like this aren’t new (remember Roaring Twenties Week last year? When they eliminated Helena for no reason? Remember that? I do. I sometimes wake up at night screaming about it). Anyway . . . mercifully this theme might mean more baking and less civil engineering.

Signature challenge: steamed buns

This Year’s Dave started with a good feeling about Japanese Week.

I couldn’t shake the feeling he was probably done for.

The bakers were tasked with making eight sweet or savoury steamed buns.

Lottie and Irish Mark both opted for a burger theme, prompting some of the best Bake Off banter since Sandi was still on hosting duty.

Both are commanded to make at least one bun without gherkins for Paul. It’s almost like they have to adapt their bakes to curry favour with the judges . . .

And speaking of curry, Dave opted for chicken katsu buns. Indiana Marc filled his with daal.

I was very quickly very hungry.

Both burgers came out a little dry, while Laura’s pork belly buns burst a little at the belly. Hermine’s chicken nikuman offerings are a little messier than the judges would like.

But all in all, it was quite an uneventful challenge. It’s clear these bakers are the cream of the crop — and it’s nice to see everyone doing pretty well.

Until . . .

Technical challenge: matcha crepe cake

Prue opened her instructions with “do not panic”.

Quite unsurprisingly, the bakers began to panic.

“Make a cake out of crepes?” the bakers might say. “Here? On a —”

Wait. Wait. Actually, I’m with them this week. The judges’ obsession with “things made to look like other things” may have finally gone too far.

Quantity proved to be an issue for some of the bakers, with both Indiana Marc and Laura struggling to produce enough crepe.

Finesse was also an issue, with far too much fruit making its way into some of the crepe.

It was clear a one or two of our intrepid contestants were going to catch crepe from the judges.

(Alright, I’ll stop).

The genuine worry of the round was the fact that very few of them seemed to know what a crescent is.

Obviously they’ve never seen “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” (except namesake Indiana Marc, of course).

Ultimately Laura struggled to keep her cake in one piece, and Irish Mark suddenly looked very vulnerable. Had his comedy double act with Lottie arrived just in time for it to be snatched away from us?

That would be on-brand for 2020.

Lottie’s effort attracted a lot of praise, but it was Peter — a man who loves baking so much that he says “crumbs” when things start to go wrong — who took top spot.

It’s safe to say he remains a favourite:

Showstopper: Kawaii cake

“Kawaii” is the Japanese word for “cute”, we’re told.

And that’s all we’re told.

Unlike the persistent befuddlement that the Technical instructions usually cause, however, this seems to go down well enough with everyone.

Indiana Marc and Dave both chose to base bakes on their dogs (good boys); Laura’s pineapple-shaped plan was born out of a little grammatical gimmickry (this series of the Great British Bake Off is one for the wordplay enthusiasts), while Lottie chucked a wobbler.

Sorry, she intended to bake a wobbler. A jiggler. It’s a thing.

Irish Mark’s work was inspired by avocados, while Hermine’s seemed to be inspired by Tim Burton. Or Helena.

Finally, Peter planned to draw on his love of badminton, with “Dizzy The Shuttlecock”. Expect a children’s book in the new year.

The pressure got to Laura early, as she did her best impression of a docker after twelve pints before openly weeping at the sight of fondant.

It looked for all the world like she’d be back on the al fresco pizza sharpish, and no amount of consolation(?) from Noel could help.

Lottie’s Cotton Jiggle Hubris Cake drew a half-hearted thumbs up from Prue, though . . . some good pre-judging there. She’s nothing if not efficient.

When they actually do get down to the judging, there’s no quarter given. Only slices.

Because cake.

Laura’s effort (50% cake, 50% tears and harsh language) turned out to be just the right level of cute, while Indiana Marc and This Year’s Dave have their dogs to thank for another good result.

Despite worrying Hermine had somewhat missed the point of a Kawaii round, she was surely safe, too.

Peter served up a storm with Dizzy The Shuttlecock™, and Lottie’s ambition paid off once again when Paul declared it the best jiggly cake he’d had outside of Japan.

(Is an earthquake thing? I understand they can be fairly frequent in that part of the world).

It did look stunning:

Our scandal for this week: that deserved a handshake. It was excellent. Paul said it was excellent. And then he moved on.

My letter to Points Of View was written hastily afterward.

Irish Mark’s feedback didn’t go quite so well, with Paul dubbing it cute, but pretty much inedible.

A bit like hedgehogs, I guess. Or pufferfish.

“Inedible” certainly isn’t a word you want to hear that this stage of the Great British Bake Off. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he narrowly beat Laura to the door.

And just like that, the budding Lottie-Mark double act is no more.

Lottie, on the other hand, was deservedly named Star Baker for the first time.

The bakes

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Iain McDonald

Iain is Digital Content Editor at the "Friend", making him responsible for managing flow of interesting and entertaining content on the magazine's website and social media channels.