‘I’m pretty sure Paul’s “baker’s tan” is bull****!’ Bake Off winner Sophie Faldo on the dairy week drama

In her weekly RadioTimes.com column, Sophie Faldo dissects the tent’s first ever dairy week

Sophie Faldo (Channel 4)

It’s a first for the Bake Off tent this week, with our bakers trying (and failing) to impress during Dairy Week.


Our remaining hopefuls attempted a ‘dairy cake’ signature, a super-colourful showstopper and a technical so abysmal Paul Hollywood almost walked out of the tent.

Here’s what our columnist, 2017 Bake Off winner Sophie Faldo, made of this week’s madness.

“Dairy Week was actually a really good idea!”

I think it’s really important producers introduce new things, it makes the show a lot more informative and can be a challenge for the bakers, so it was a good week to watch.

I don’t know how I would have fared in Dairy Week. The signature would have been fine as I use buttermilk and sourcream in most of my cakes now, but I don’t know. I felt for the bakers as they worked with condensed milk – I tried that once and I had to literally stand over it for two hours as I baked. That looked like a right pain in the arse.

“The mishti challenge didn’t lend itself well to a showstopper”

Bake Off Alice (Channel 4)

[Producers] were committed to the theme of the week but there probably wasn’t a massive amount of choice if they really wanted to push the dairy theme. The contestants did well to make it into the showstopper, though. Alice’s afternoon tea theme was particularly good.

“If I was Michael, I would have changed my signature bake”

Michael said he tried to make his signature ten times before, and it had actually only worked once.

Personally, if I had had something that hadn’t worked as often as it had for Michael, I would have changed because it’s got to work pretty damn well in practice before you can take it to the tent. It’s always going to be potentially more risky when you’re under time pressure. Sometimes you hope the magic of the tent will see you through, but it doesn’t always.

Bake Off Michael (Channel 4)

You send in your recipes for bakes to producers in advance, but you’re allowed to make changes. Producers don’t like it because they make preparations and you’ve got all your ingredients and they do a breakdown of the recipe so they know what they want to be filming, but they can’t force you to do something you’re not happy with.

“Priya’s technical was heart-breaking!”

Sometimes – and it’s happened to us all – you get too complacent with the time. You have that pivotal moment where you stop worrying because it’s all rubbish so you know you’re just going to have to put it on a plate and take the beating you’re going to get from Paul Hollywood!

Bake Off Priya (Channel 4)

Priya joked there ‘wasn’t any point’ in serving her Maids of Honour, and I had that feeling with one of my signatures, my millionaire’s shortbread. I just don’t think I finished in time – I just took too long with everything and the caramel didn’t set. So all of mine still had all these little plastic collars around them, held with green electrical tape, and I just had to send them up like that. I knew I couldn’t polish a turd and served it up as it was and hoped it tasted okay.

Sometimes, all is not lost because it doesn’t come together on the plate – and I never felt like serving up the bin!

“Paul’s comments were really unfair this week”

Paul Hollywood, Bake Off (C4, EH)
Paul Hollywood, Bake Off (C4, EH)
Channel 4

His standards are just crazy high, but I did think it was unfair to say everyone apart from Henry, Steph and David. Yeah, there were a couple of people that had a bad week, but actually I thought all the signature bakes were brilliant. I think it was because he thought all the technicals were poor. But I think everyone did quite well.

I’m still backing Henry to make the final three, but David may be a bit of a ‘grey man’. He’s never been the best or the worst, but he may be a dark horse who makes it all the way to the end.

“There’s no such thing as a baker’s tan!”

I had to look this up! I only did Biology up to A-Level but I’m pretty sure that’s bull****! I’m pretty sure you need reaction from UV rays to make melanin in the skin, not just heat. But Paul does go abroad a lot – he’s got ties in Cyprus and he’s out on his bike a lot – but I don’t think a bakers tan is actually a thing. Bakers can be ruddy from the heat, which might explain their redness, but they wouldn’t be tanned. So I think that’s an excuse.


The Great British Bake Off continues Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4