Comment: The Great British Bake Off

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Last night, an average of 8.4 million fans tuned into The Great British Bake Off to see who be crowned the baking champion this year.

The three finalists couldn’t have been more different from each other if they had tried, the only similarities they all possessed was a love for baking.

We had Ruby Tandoh who was battling it out for us youngsters, Kimberly Wilson who had always previously made or seen someone make pretty much every technical challenge and Frances Quinn who had a different theme to go along with each of her bakes.

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I was routing for Ruby, despite her annoying facial expressions and lack of confidence. I wanted her to win because she was the youngest contestant and I certainly felt as though I would be letting the twenty somethings down, if I strayed away and backed any of the others. I liked how unprepared and scatty she was and the fact she made it to the final whilst also being able to study and complete exams at university. I also sort of liked her whimsical ways, flowery clothing and her curly hair. I do not think she will be forgotten in a flash, especially with the male fans that are out there.

Last night we saw them compete with savoury picnic pies, pretzels and wedding cakes.

After the first signature challenge had been completed, I thought Ruby was definitely in with a shot at winning, with her perfect layers of vegetables and that all important crispy bottom.

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Frances had made a lovely picnic pie but Pauly Hollywood wished it had been in the oven for another ten minutes.

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Kimberly was very disappointed with her soggy base but luckily clawed her way up by coming first in the technical challenge of making a pretzel. Of course she had made something similar to a pretzel before so she had the upper hand.

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I was quite surprised that the Judges had chosen Paul Hollywood’s pretzel recipe as the final technical challenge, simply because they are an unusual food to eat. They just remind me of my trip to New York as pretzel vans were dotted around the city. Not everyone could master the fine art of double twisting the dough to create that perfect shaped pretzel.

Next on the agenda for the finalists was the mammoth task of designing and baking a three tiered wedding cake. Frances was in her element, creating a beautiful cake decorated with mango and beetroot ‘confetti’, that had all been hand chopped and roasted before being thrown (in a delicate manner) on to the cake.

Frances Wedding Cake

Kimberly’s ingredients sounded delicious in her ‘language of love’ cake but the decoration is what let her down, according to harsh judges Paul and Mary Berry.

Kim Cake

Unfortunately for Ruby, decoration is not one of her strong points and it really did let her down, as the close up shots of her finished cake looked a little messy. As she walked away in tears having been told by Paul that her sponge was dry, we all new she would not be crowned the winner.

Ruby Cake

In the end, as the contestants huddled together awaiting to hear the results, it was Frances Quinn that was crowned winner of 2013 Bake Off. As sad as it was that Ruby did not win, I reckon Frances did deserve the winning title simply due to how much effort she must have put in every week to be able to produce such imaginative bakes.

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This year Paul has again taken the role of The Great British Bake Off’s Simon Cowel and Mary Berry has been as delightful as ever. I think she epitomises a grandma and I am sure her grandchildren are on the plump size due to all the lovely cakes they must eat.

Throughout the series I have enjoyed the banter that presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have provided. I always looked forward to the way they scream out the word ‘BAKE’ before the camera cuts to the contestants scurrying around.

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The way it is filmed and the setting they bake in all adds a great sense of Britishness to the programme. I think this is one of the reasons I love it so much. It is the little touches such as the thick wooden table that the judges and presenters sit around whilst they scrutinise the baking. The pale pink, blue and yellow mixers that look very professional and enviable by any keen baker. The white marquee that screams British summer due to our unpredictable weather conditions. I remember during one episode it rained throughout the whole programme. I also can’t forget the odd British flags that line the tent, I think this is the one of the only programmes that features our flag.

One of my favourite contestants this year has been Howard, purely for the way he speaks.

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All in all, I am not surprised millions of people tuned into find out who the winner of this years Bake Off was. I certainly didn’t predict it, but well done Frances!

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Comment: Visit to Argos, I mean the Embassy

I headed to London last Wednesday for my Visa appointment which was at 8am the following day. Luckily I have a nice friend (Josh) who let me stay the night so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel because London hotel prices are ridiculous!

Whilst on the train a man came and sat opposite me, I glanced up from my book in curiosity. On deciding he was not as interesting as my book I returned to reading. He was chatting on the phone for a while and I thought nothing of him. I then heard him say goodbye and out the corner of my eye I saw him retrieve a black notebook from his bag. He opened his black book and began drawing. I only assumed he was drawing because he kept turning the book from side to side whilst putting pencil to paper. Looking down at my kindle I sensed someone was watching me, I quickly glanced up and was shocked to find the man quickly glance back to his notepad. After this happened several times I began to think that he may be drawing me. My suspicions were confirmed when I noticed that there was a drawing of another girl on the facing page.

I did not really know what to do so I a sheepishly sat there knowing a strange man was drawing me, in his little BLACK book. The fact that the book was black is what freaked my out. I then thought that this is ridiculous so I decided to get my own back by taking a picture of him. You know…just incase he is a serial killer. I now have evidence.

1368631483152After an eventful/slightly bizarre journey, I finally arrived at Paddington Station where I caught the tube to Brixton to meet Josh.

That evening Josh decided he wanted to bake some cakes. I agreed to help and suggested we make those lemon meringue cupcakes I blogged about the other day. He was torn between his love for lemon and his desire to bake chocolate chip cupcakes with mint chocolate chip frosting. Undecided, we ended up baking both. When I say we, I actually mean Josh and I sat and watched whilst one of Josh’s close friends did all the work. I did help by licking the mixture out of the bowl and Josh did dictate from the sidelines. I guess you could say it was a group effort after all.

The recipe for the chocolate chip cup cakes with mint chocolate chip frosting can be found on Sally’s Baking Addiction blog.Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 15.21.33

I have to say that both cakes were delicious and I will definitely recommend them to anyone.

After the hectic baking session, feeling as though I had over indulged on my share of cakes, I headed to bed to ensure I had a good nights sleep ready for my early morning start.

On the day of my visa appointment I begrudgingly rolled out of bed, at 6.30am, to get dressed. As I left Josh’s flat the sun greeted me and by the time I made it to Brixton station I was wide awake and ready to delve deep into the underground to catch the tube to Green Park.

Once at Green Park I quickly typed in my destination onto google maps and followed the trail by foot. Realising I only had 10 minutes until my appointment, I began to run the last leg of my journey until I spotted the American flag flying high above the building.

The Camp America team were very helpful, checking my paper work with a smile despite the early hour. Everything seemed to be in order so I was able to join the que outside the security entrance. Two men stood nearby with guns – scary.

As expected, I was ushered along the conveyer belt of people, passed security and into the building itself.

Inside, I was instructed to take a seat and wait for my number. It really was like being at Argos, I sat, I waited for my number and then I approached the desk. The only difference was not retrieving a household object at the end and I also wasn’t allowed to occupy myself on my phone whilst I waited.

I find it a little odd that you aren’t allowed to take your phones into the Embassy building. In this day and age, a mobile phone is attached to practically every person. If it wasn’t for my smartphone, I wouldn’t have been able to find my way to the Embassy as easily. Thankfully Camp America were there to look after my electrical items but I am sure it is a huge inconvenience for everyone else.

Whilst at the desk I had all my finger prints taken and for some reason I was disappointed to find out that they didn’t use ink and paper. I now cannot imagine why I even thought they would use ink and paper, but I was disappointed no the less because I really wanted to see what my finger prints looked like.

After that I moved along the conveyer and waited in line to be interviewed. It was fairly simple and I was done within the hour which left me with four hours to spare before my train left London.

Reunited with my trusty phone, I google mapped the location of Oxford Street and was happily surprised that it was only a short walk away.

Heading down the street I realised that none of the shops were open yet so I decided to grab some breakfast and my morning cup of tea. This was far easier said than done because I ended up walking the length of Oxford Street before I spotted a Costa. Bewildered and desperately in need of that tea, I headed for the counter and ordered a chocolate swirl to accompany it.

I found a table in the corner and happily sat with my tea and swirl, checking all social media whilst I ate.

After an hour had passed, I presumed the shops would have opened their doors to customers, so I left Costa and headed for Topshop which just so happened to be right across the street. With America in mind I ended up buying a few things.Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 15.42.20

I thought the yellow dress would go perfectly with the blue jumper and I have wanted a large gold neckless for a while. I then went into other shops but didn’t buy anything else until I came to Pull and Bear. Here I bought the denim shirt which was surprisingly only £19.99, a whole £14.00 cheaper than the one I tried on in Topshop… bargain!

Basic Denim Shifrt – Pull and Bear £19.99

Daisy Circle Chain Neckless – Topshop £10

Ditsy Floral Flippy Dress – Topshop £18

Curve Hem Sweat – Topshop £18

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With a slightly lighter purse and great train snacks in hand, I headed back to Paddington Station to catch my 13.15 trainback to Bristol.