It’s good to know that even here, at the end of the world, there are spectacularly badly decorated cakes and the ability to televise them for a large audience to laugh at. After a short delay because of the pandemic, The Great British Bake Off returned last night, ready and willing to take our wearied heads into its giant and enveloping bosom, as if to say “I know you think my quality has worsened in recent times, and maybe haven’t watched the last couple of seasons, but I also know that it’s 2020 and there’s fuck all else on; besides, don’t you long for familiarity and the warm glow of some harmless rage provoked by Paul Hollywood’s general demeanour? Hush now, my child, hush.”
As such, the show delivered one of its best episodes in years, down in part to a genius Showstopper challenge, which instructed the bakers to create busts of their favourite celebrities out of cake. As a choice of task, it was utter internet pandering (remember “everything is cake”?), which is exactly what Bake Off should be doing, and yielded probably the funniest set of bakes ever done on the show. Here I have ranked these fine and noble creations from simply ‘cursed,’ to utterly nightmarish. Thank you to the bakers for what they have done for us all at such a challenging time, especially Marc, who made Ziggy Stardust look like Henry VIII at the end of his life.
Sura’s Ode to Attenborough
This one is actually quite good – you can tell it’s Sir Dave at least; the shirt is very nicely done – and the only properly funny thing I have to add is the following picture of it momentarily falling over, which is just one of those things I will inevitably think about at inopportune moments in years to come, like when people tell me someone they know has died:
Mak’s Tribute to Bill Bryson
Again, pretty good! Not a huge amount to say here other than the fact that I just have this suspicion that this is not the first time someone has made a cake of Bill Bryson’s head. He just seems like the kind of man people make cake out of: I feel that it is not an irregular occurrence for Bill Bryson to turn up to a signing for whatever book he’s done about canals or trees (??) at a rural-ish Waterstones, and be presented with a likeness of himself made out of Victoria Sponge by an older lady called Ruth. Just has that vibe. Which is specific, I know.
Peter’s In Honour of Sir Chris
You have to admire the skill here. Well put together; cleverly iced; nice painted-on decoration. But like. I dunno. There is something isn’t there, when you peer in a bit closer, look at it for a bit too long? Ah yes, that’s it. It looks like a sex doll, Peter.
Rowan’s ‘Let Them Eat Cake’: A Tribute to Marie Antoinette
This is obviously quote-unquote “good” but it also very much looks quite a lot like a) a china doll upon which an eternal curse has been placed, which is a supremely terrible energy, and b) David Cameron, which is even worse.
Lottie’s Coconut and Lime Louis Theroux
I suppose this does resemble Louis Theroux in a way, but in a more serious and real way it also resembles an old man who would live next door to you and stare at you ominously over the garden fence every day for a calendar year until one day, he looks you directly in the eye and, in a remarkably clear voice, just says: “chebs.”
Mark’s Origin-ger of the Species by Charles Darwin
Well done, Mark. You’ve made Charles Darwin look like the head from Art Attack.
Loriea’s “Flavours of Jamaica” Tribute to Miss Lou
This was conceived of as a cake version of poet Miss Louise Bennett-Coverley but unfortunately has more than a hint of the Momo meme which saw parents banning their children from going on the iPad all the way back in 2019. What I wouldn’t give to go back to that moral panic now!
Dave’s Three Flavours of Tom Delonge
It is desperately funny to me that in amongst your David Attenboroughs and your Marie Antoinettes, someone decided to immortalise Tom Delonge – the man who wrote the lyric “Smoked a bong, killed a cat/Had my nuts attacked by rats,” among others – in cake bust form. Also, I never thought I’d see a flesh tunnel made out of cake, but here we are.
Linda’s Lemon and Orange Bob Marley
My boyfriend said this looks like Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 which I think is hauntingly accurate.
Hermine’s Ode to Lupita
You just have to wonder whether Lupita Nyong’o will ever see this, don’t you?
Laura’s Lemon and Elderflower Freddie Mercury
Behold: one of the greatest performers of the last century, reimagined here as melted Lego.
Marc’s Chocolate and Vanilla Ziggy
Coming in hot like Fred Elliott doing a “Wetherfield Sings the Hits” fancy dress bit for Comic Relief, Marc’s Ziggy Stardust cake is surely one of the most iconic images to come out of GBBO since the guy made the lion out of bread. Everything about this is utterly rhapsodic – the slapped on hair; the expression which looks like that of a sleeping grandad – and I can only conclude that while Marc was not crowned star baker for this masterpiece, he has earned something much better: the respect of everyone who has been so mangled by 2020 that they feel as though this is the only appropriate visualisation of their current mental state. So: all of us.