‘On your marks, get set, bake!’ 9th collection of ‘The Great British Baking Show’ kicks off

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Last Friday, Netflix released the newest season of “The Great British Baking Show,” appeasing viewers’ obsession with tea parties, British accents and the contestants’ family recipes. 

The episode starts off with an odd musical number, as judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith and hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas dress as Billy Ray Cyrus in a parody of “Achy Breaky Heart.” The cast ditches their normal attire for the iconic Cyrus look of mullets, fringe jackets and cowboy boots. The chorus “Don’t bake my tart, my flaky pastry tart” was accompanied by awkward eye contact with the camera and pretend-playing of the guitar. 

After what felt like that cringeworthy memory of when teachers at your school dressed up for Halloween, the show really begins. The classic aerial shot of the England fields and the lone white tent, there is an immediate sense of comfort and a question: How can you put that many ovens in the middle of a field?  

Right off the bat, the hosts introduce the first Signature Challenge: 12 decorative mini rolls with complete freedom of filling and design. 

In classic baking show fashion, the judges greet each contestant and ask about their baking plan. Accompanying the introductions are cutscenes of the contestants’ quaint hometowns and adorable scenes with family. For each dessert, they show an animated drawing of their plan, convenient for inexperienced bakers of the “mini roll.”  

The most impressive contestant is a 19-year-old woman named Freya from Scarborough, England. She is not only the youngest in the competition, but also a vegan baker. With early doubts from the judges as to the use of aquafaba in her meringue, Freya reassures them that she has practiced the art of baking with no egg. 

After more introductions and the first competition nearing its end, there is a wave of chaos that flows through the tent kitchen. The act of rolling the mini roll without cracking is done precisely and quickly as the mini rolls are messily plated for the judges. 

After no declared winner of the first challenge, contestants are introduced to the second challenge of the week: the old-fashioned malt loaf. The contestants are supplied with the recipe and reminded of the ever-present worry of overbaking the flour. 

Second place goes to the teenage vegan baker – and my personal favorite – Freya. The top spot goes to the expected winner, Maggie, who looks like a sweet older lady that bakes for her neighbors.  

The final task, the Showstopper challenge, is quite difficult for the first week: an anti-gravity cake. In only four hours, the bakers must construct a free-standing, edible cake that represents a precious memory.  

The bakers struggle to defy gravity in their cake structure. Judges give critiques and compliments on flavor and execution, and they announce the first Star Baker of the competition: Jürgen, a musician and father from Brighton. On the other hand, the first baker that is voted out of the competition is Tom, who kindly accepts that decision. 

The episode concludes with relieved contestants. The upcoming season seems promising with talent and British wit: all you want from “The Great British Baking Show.” 

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