The Great British Bake Off Season Premiere Recap, It’s Cake Week!

WARNING: If you’re reading this in the U.S. before the episode 1 of The Great British Bake Off’s (aka The Great British Baking Show) Season 13 airs on Netflix (Sept. 16), this post contains spoilers!

The Great British Bake Off Series 13 premiere is in the books!

There’s something about the anticipation leading up to a new season of the The Great British Bake Off. From the United Kingdom to the United States and beyond, what can only be described as a wave of intense excitement reverberates through social media. There is also an undercurrent of concern that perhaps the new season won’t be as great as its predecessors.

But, as usual, there was absolutely nothing to be concerned about. The Series 13 premiere was every bit as magical and lovely as the seasons before. A soothing balm for a world full of anxious and uneasy people who simply need an hour to laugh and cry and be comforted.

Love Productions/The Great British Bake Off

As with every season that has come before it, the season premiere kicked off with Cake Week. The Signature Challenge that required bakers to make 12 identical mini sandwich cakes. The challenge may seem easy to viewers, but with the heat of the tent and nerves of baking in front of a camera for the first time…the challenge is anything but simple.

Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith were on the hunt for “a perfect sandwich cake” and “originality.” The bakers could choose the flavors of the bakes themselves, but in order to catch the judges’ eye they needed to show skill and personality.

How did the bakers fare in the episode 1 Signature Challenge?

Sandro, Kevin, Carole, Dawn and Janusz were praised for their near-perfect bakes. The judges didn’t sugar coat their criticism about Rebs’ Hazelnut Latte Mini Cakes that Prue said had “enough coffee to keep you up at night.”

Paul called Will’s cakes “disappointing,” also saying “It’s a bit messy. It’s a bit bland.” That had to be a heartbreaking start for Will who basically had a smile on his face through the entire opening round.

Other bakers received minor criticism for their cakes being too dry, too messy, or having too much booze.

For the first Technical Challenge, bakers were tasked with creating an American classic…red velvet cake.

Each cake was to have 6 layers of sponge cake with equal layers of cream cheese frosting in between. As usual, the instructions were vague as bakers were simply told to “make red velvet batter” and “make cream cheese frosting.”

There were a lot of ways that this challenge could defeat a baker. The method of mixing the cake batter, amount of red food coloring added to the chocolate batter, and the amount of time the frosting was whipped were crucial to the cake’s success.

In the end, Syabira placed first in the challenge with a stunning cake that Paul admitted was even better than his own. The final Technical Challenge rankings were:

  1. Syabira
  2. Sandro
  3. Dawn
  4. Kevin
  5. Maisam
  6. Abdul
  7. Janusz
  8. Carole
  9. Will
  10. Maxy
  11. Rebs
  12. James

The Showstopper gave us an up close and personal look at the bakers.

Each baker had to recreate a home that had special meaning to them. Several bakers chose their own childhood homes, while others recreated homes of other family members. It was our first really personal glimpse into the bakers’ lives off camera.

It was also during this challenge that some of the bakers’ nerves were tested. Abdul got 40 minutes behind after realizing that his oven wasn’t on. The delay affected his ability to get all of the detail on his cake house, but he was able to present a decent and delicious cake to the judges.

After pulling her cakes from the oven, Rebs trimmed the tops of her cakes only to realize they weren’t fully cooked. Ironically, Paul criticized her cake for being overbaked.

What did we learn about the bakers after the Bake Off Series 13 premiere?

Rebs reminds us a bit of Flora from Series 6. Adorable and fun to watch, but seems to be easily flustered. She is incredibly talented, but we don’t anticipate her making it farther than episode 3 or 4.

Abdul could be the sleeper of the season. Despite running behind because his oven was off for most of the Showstopper Challenge, Abdul was surprisingly chill and recovered beautifully. That calm, cool personality could carry him a long way in the competition.

Sandro is easily the season frontrunner. One look at Sandro’s social media profiles makes it clear that this guy knows his stuff. Possibly one of the most chill bakers we’ve seen in the tent in awhile. (We predicted Sandro to win the whole thing prior to the first episode airing. *cough, cough* And we are standing by that prediction.)

Dawn is near the top of our list for favorite baker to watch. She has a Nancy Birtwhistle vibe going on…a quiet confidence that we can’t help but adore. This lady knows how to bake and we expect to see her go far in the competition.

Kevin is the guy you want to bring home to meet the family. He seems very approachable and humble….almost as if he’s unaware of how good of a baker he is. We hope to see a lot more of Kevin if he can keep the pressure of the tent from getting to him.

Maisam is this season’s Martha. At only 18-years-old, Maisam is the youngest baker in the tent. She is running in the middle of the pack at the moment. She was criticized in both the Signature and Showstopper rounds for her lack of finesse, a weakness that will probably hurt her sooner rather than later in the competition.

Maxy is easy to like. She comes across as quietly confident and isn’t afraid to push it a little bit. She was praised for her “beautiful” flavor combinations. I expect Maxy to move to the top of the pack in the next week or two after the nerves of being in the tent settle down.

Will had a rough week. What else can we say? It seemed evident from early on that he was likely not going to survive Cake Week. After his Swiss Meringue Buttercream split, he seemed lost as to how to handle it. Experienced bakers know that Swiss Meringue Buttercream can almost always be “brought back.” But, Will chose to throw it in the trash and start over….a mistake that cost him precious time.

James is a bit of a mystery. Prior to watching the season premiere, we had pegged James to be a semi-finalist, at least. He got high marks for flavor, but fell short on decorating and came last in the Technical Challenge. We’re hoping that James will come out of his shell a bit as the weeks go on. We think James has some hidden talent and personality that will show up in the weeks to come that will make him one of the season’s most popular bakers.

Carole….*sigh.* Is there anything NOT to love about Carole? This pink-haired baker is super confident in herself and in her baking abilities. She could have been in the running for star baker this week, but the coffee in her Coffee & Walnut Cake had Paul saying, “I’ve never had a coffee cake that strong before. It’s actually burning.” We’re rooting for Carole to have a huge comeback next week!

Syabira is precious. There’s no other way to describe her. She is lovely and sweet and just so darn happy to be in the tent. Her smile is infectious. Her Technical Challenge victory definitely made her somebody to watch. Paul doesn’t often tell a baker that they outdid him…that’s high praise.

Janusz had an amazing week in the tent. His Star Baker win was well-deserved. The nerves of baking in front of cameras didn’t seem to phase him much…until his post-show interview where he called his family and said, “I got Star Caker in Bake Week.” The slip up, and his reaction to it, only endeared him to us more.



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