“Don’t fear the lard” – GBBO finalist Richard reviews The Great Comic Relief Bake Off

2014 finalist Richard Burr gives his expert assessment of David Mitchell, Michael Sheen, Sarah Brown and Jameela Jamil's turn in the Bake Off tent

Here we are, halfway through this series for Comic Relief and back in the tent, this time with Jo Brand at the helm and David Mitchell, Michael Sheen, Sarah Brown and Jameela Jamil taking on the Bake Off challenge.

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I’m getting the hang of making sure I have my own baked goods to hand to watch along with each week. I’m shooting my recipe book at the moment, so thankfully I’m always surrounded by cake and biscuits.

Any episode that starts with a contestant saying “I’m possibly the most competitive person in the world” is going to grab my attention. This has proved a winner for the past two weeks with Jennifer Saunders and Gok Wan. Time to see what Michael Sheen has up his sleeve…

Signature challenge

I love shortbread. The only worry is getting the cooking times right, and not over-working the dough. Easy. Even Jameela Jamil, who’s amazingly never touched butter with her bare hands before, can make it. Sugar + butter + flour + any flavour you fancy adding!

I laughed at Sarah Brown saying that David Mitchell’s running commentary was like having Radio 4 on in the background. Seeing as I do most of my baking accompanied by Radio 4, I know just what she meant.

Michael Sheen’s dragon biscuits sounded fab. Like him, I do a lot of baking with my kids so have a cupboard full of different biscuit cutters. My current favourite are my ‘ninjabread men’.

When using odd shapes, beware of cutters that are very complex, because shortbread is quite crumbly and prone to burning on thinner sections. I do a good lavender shortbread myself (pictured), perfect with a cup of tea, but that seems a bit boring compared to these fantastic ideas.

Technical Challenge

First off, I need to reassure you that hot water crust pastry is not as difficult as Paul and Mary make it out to be. Please try it at least once in your life – don’t fear the lard!

That said, this is a pretty tough technical challenge to do in less than two hours. When in doubt on Bake Off, watch the person who looks most confident: Michael and David both had the right idea keeping an eye on Sarah.

It’s amazing how quickly the environment of the tent sucks you in and makes you want to be a better baker. David’s surprise happiness about his pork pies is one of the things that I most love about baking, and still experience almost every time I take something out of the oven.

I certainly recognise the ‘Well, that’s not bad’ eyebrow he gave when he saw his wares. I was so chuffed for him coming first in the technical challenge – the absolute delight on his face when Paul announced it was a right picture. I hope he’s tried making them since.

Showstopper

Pavlova is a pretty straightforward challenge, but a good opportunity to show flair and creativity. Watch out for stray egg yolk with this one – it will knacker your meringue. I’d have probably made a chocolate and raspberry pavlova with loads of marbled meringue kisses.

I thought Jameela’s meringue kisses were lovely; that red was so vivid. It was a shame the rest of hers went so wrong, poor love. Good on her for presenting what she had left. Paul and Mary were pretty mean given the circumstances. but I think that’s testament to how high the standard was this week.

Michael is right: passion fruit and cream is one of those combinations that knocks your socks off and for him to get a “sheer perfection” from Mary must have lifted his weekend. Sarah’s pavlova was absolutely beautiful. It would make a great centrepiece at a summer barbecue, and anything covered in toy animals is always gonna get my vote – takes playing with your food to a new level!

My Star Baker

This week really is too close to call between Sarah, Michael and David but if it was up to me, I’d award Star Baker to Sarah – consistent across all three challenges and great bakes.

There were loads of great ideas in this week’s episode for viewers to try at home. To hold your own bake sale for Red Nose Day, visit www.rednoseday.com/bakeoff for more information.

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“Every Bake Off nightmare!” Read Richard’s review of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off episode two