You could cut the tension with a knife this week in the baking tent. Most contestants, however, are opting for butter.
Yes it’s toast week.
The first round challenges the bakers to make that great British staple, breakfast. Commentators are expecting toppings as various as honey, bovril or even marmalade, with bookies currently offering odds of 5/4 that all finalists will use wholegrain.
The judging team are expecting big things for the Final. ‘This first round is NOT easy,’ intones a judge who looks a bit like a badger with a hangover, ‘we’re looking for a perfectly browned piece of toast, a well-chosen topping, AND a milky cup of strong tea, all in just five minutes.’
Before we could stop him, the bloke who does the voice-overs told our reporters that ‘this first round presents bakers with a tricky balancing act. If they toast the bread for too long, they might not leave themselves enough time to add toppings. On the other hand, if they take the toast out too early, they risk a slightly squishy slice.’
The second, mystery round often tests bakers to the very limits of their abilities. When we asked a judge about how difficult a toast-based challenge could really be, she just smirked knowingly, ‘We don’t want to see ANY scraping.’
According to rumours, the third and final round is a classic take on a national favourite, beans on toast. Sources say that contestants will be given five minutes to create the perfect double-slice display, with one tin of beans spread more-or-less evenly around the plate. In another switch-up, should the contestants fail to produce their masterpiece before the time limit is up, they run the risk of missing their bus home. ‘Double jeopardy!’ gushes a producer, ‘don’t you just love it?!’
There has been mixed reactions to the choice of theme in the press. Three leading tabloids ran the headlines “Baking Gone a Rye”, “Crumbs What a Mess!” and “Final Deserves Butter” When asked whether they risked throwing the famous show into disrepute, the producers replied: ‘We realise this is a bit of a shake-up, but no one actually spends 4 hours on a Saturday making 6 layered strawberry dacquoises with gelatin petticoats. Come on, I wouldn’t even order that out. Everyone likes toast, so for the Final we thought it was important to bring the show back to it roots.’
Others headlines, including “Upper Crust Only” and “Finalists Raise a Toast”, indicate a more favourable reaction, and fans around the country have been going wild. Abigail de Courcey-Vogel, long-time bread nutter, told us excitedly how she couldn’t wait to see the new, shortened format: ‘I always find it so unrealistic when the presenters scream “10 seconds to go!” and then we watch a carefully-crafted 2 minute montage of desperate piping, custard being stolen and unadulterated cake chaos before the timer finally goes. Now we’ll be able to see the anarchy of the baking tent in real time!’
Are you as excited as Abigail? Think you’ve got what it takes? Have a go and make your own toast at home!