Cute factor high as Maddie survives a Junior Bake Off

North London 12-year-old melts hearts in her outing for the junior version of the baking show


North London mini-baker Maddie and her cohort breathed a sigh of relief at the end of episode one of Channel 4's Junior Bake Off when no bakers were evicted.

The Jewish 12-year-old from north London may have been in danger of departing when the time spent making her huge chocolate cake left her with minutes to finish her trompe l’oeil gateau.

She and her group of ten contestants were tested on their cake baking skills in their first outing in the iconic tent. Together with 19 others, she had beaten thousands of children to make it to the final 20. They then were split into two groups for the televised rounds.

The cute factor was high. Oliver, one of her competitors, was clutching his furry orange Orangutan mascot and ten-year-old Tilly needed help doing up her apron. With comedian Harry Hill at the helm, the humour quotient was high. I laughed out loud from the minute he burst onto the screen in his cupcake outfit.

More laughs followed as he led the contestants and judges Liam Charles (a former GBBO contestant) and 70-something Prue Leith (on crutches) in a floss dance to help destress them. Prue waving her crutches in time to the music was genius. 

In this Junior version of our favourite baking show, the competitors only have two challenges — a "technical" and then a "showstopper".

This was cake week, and Prue had chosen English Madeleines as the first technical challenge. The instructions were a “bit vague” murmured Oliver, as he and the others tussled with baking times and quantities. Even which way was up was a mystery with this baffling bake. Even Maddie, with her prior French Madeleine experience, was mystified.

The judges were far kinder than they are to the adult bakers, finding praise even for the four cakes salvaged from the floor when poor George dropped his entire plate on the way to the judging table.

Prue pronounced Maddie’s bakes “delicious” and she managed a respectable fifth place.

The showstopper was a different matter. The children each had to bake a cake depicting their favourite school subject. They picked lessons from Geography (Zak and Bakr’s Rainforest and Polar Bear cakes) to Art (Zoe’s  Mondrian-influenced cake) and Biology (Aleena’s stomach-churning brain cake).

Sporty Maddie went for a PE cake with her Playing Fields, but made the error of baking a single large cake instead of a few smaller ones. “I chose to bake one cake because I thought it would take less time but I don’t think I got that right now!” she exclaimed as she waited.  It took so long to bake, she was forced into an icing panic.

She wasn’t the only one in a tizz. The last time I saw so many stressed out children we’d lost the keys to the nosh drawer. Tilly’s cake crumbled as she took it out of the tin and George’s ‘Tragedy Mask' lasted a few minutes before self-destructing.

But the judges were kind, and after Ollie was crowned star baker, the good news was deliverd that no one would be leaving. We’ll get to see him, Maddie and the rest of their cohort bake biscuits in episode two tonight.



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