“Pastry Week makes me pine for Mary Berry and her one-liners” – Bake Off’s Sophie Faldo

In her weekly Bake Off column, 2017 champion Sophie Faldo has her say on the drama dished up on Pastry Week

Sophie Bake Off 2017 (her own image)

We’re rapidly hurtling towards the 2019 Bake Off finals, with the final five taking on Pastry Week last night in a last-chance bid to impress Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith for a spot in the semi’s.

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RadioTimes.com Bake Off columnist and former champion Sophie Faldo talks us through this week’s events, serving up her thoughts on that showstopper challenge, rowdy behind-the-scenes secrets and who could be the real winner of Bake Off 2019…

“We will always have pastry week because of Paul Hollywood”

The Great British Bake Off 2018 - Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith

Pastry Week will always be a theme because it’s one that Paul really loves. He has said numerous times to me that he hates sweet stuff, he loves the savoury so bread and pastry are the big ones for him. Pastry Week saw the return of the dreaded soggy bottom too, which I loved! It makes me pine for Mary Berry a little bit, cracking her one-liners.

“The Bake Off tent can be very uncomfortable…”

There were some times where it was very, very uncomfortable for us. People always think it’s this nice, lovely breezy tent but they don’t realise that air conditioning is banned because you can’t record over the noise. Those tiny little fans are all you have. I remember feeling the sweat pouring down my back, it did get quite minging!

We got some wet flannels and they were put in the freezer, and we would go and pad ourselves off. At one point I poured a bottle of water over myself. It got pretty horrendous at times.

“…And we got quite rowdy sometimes!”

Sandi Toksvig, Bake Off (C4)
Sandi Toksvig, Bake Off (C4)

We saw our bakers playing with a lime as they waited for their Moroccan pies in the oven. We did a few things that never got shown. When it was our Bread Week, we literally had nothing else to do while it was proving as it was just a single loaf. It got quite rowdy. At one point, Sandi [Toksvig] came in and started playing It’s Raining Men on a speaker, and production got annoyed with her!

These times are very rare. Usually there’s a challenge when you have to wait, you have to do something else. It doesn’t often happen, but when it does, we made the most of it.

What is Great British Bake Off’s theme for Week 9? 

“Henry may be Bake Off 2019’s break-out star”

Bake Off Henry (Channel 4)

I think when Henry is under pressure, it brings those funny one-liners out of him, now he thinks he’s going to go home, I think he’s like, f*** it, I’ll come home with some corking one liners instead. It’s brought out the best him.

Everyone in there still has real character but Henry’s very popular. He might be Bake Off’s break-out star. But it’s a very sad week for me, as he was one of my favourites.

“The judges and hosts have free reign about who they bring into the tent”

Adam Hills popped up during a skit with Noel Fielding this week, but people often brought their families – Noel brought his girlfriend one week, and Sandi brought her kids. Paul brought his girlfriend last year and his wife on our year – awkward!

The opposite end of the tent is a little corridor and that is absolutely rammed with people like the production crew, and visitors. Often the Lady of Welford Park would stop by. She loved getting involved. She’d always come down and bring the dog.

They’d mainly walk around or hang about near the entrance. The talent, the judges and the host have pretty free reign to bring whoever they want.

“Paul’s definitely got closer to the contestants”

Paul Hollywood, Bake Off (C4, EH)
Paul Hollywood, Bake Off (C4, EH)

Henry called Paul a shark, and funnily enough those shots where the judges watch you are referred to by production as shark shots. They actually call it sharking, when they’re swimming round the tent. It is incredibly distracting, more so with Paul! Paul’s definitely got a bit closer when he stands by the contestants, and that must be intimidating.

“It was an unrealistic showstopper”

Prue said it was a disappointing showstopper challenge, but I think it’s because the judges wouldn’t appreciate the trade off you have to make of making it taste good and look amazing in the time frame. It wasn’t unreasonable, just unrealistic. I really feel for the bakers as sometimes it’s not just possible and they’re not given enough credit for that.

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The Great British Bake Off is on Channel 4, Tuesday at 8pm