From top: smug David impressed in the Technical on last night’s Great British Bake-Off on Channel 4 but came second; Vanessa Foran

I don’t know if I’ve said this here before, but I wouldn’t be a veggie cake person.

Ok if you were to put a bit of carrot cake in front of me, I’d be polite.  But I wouldn’t make one, clearly that’s the fault of my own palette, and as recently as last weekend there I came across a recipe from Haiti, Sweet Potato Loaf that includes three spotty bananas and maple syrup in the line-out of ingredients; sincere apologies to the Caribbean bakers – but lads that makes no sense to me, it like asking me to stir washing power into my mash.

If I’m being parochial and closed minded here, yeah, I’ll wear that hat. But for now I’m here only to talk about cake.

And we are talking about High End Grand Patisserie so I’ll not be making apologies for stating that David and his beetroot and parsnips and his smug yoga grin should have been sent home.

He might as well have made soup out of his ingredients, and that’s just not playing by the rules of Patisserie Week.

But it’s not his fault nor the Judges’ that I didn’t rate last night’s semi-final since the show for me the moment it dingled into its theme tune was a bit dysfunctional; I’m those ties scratched my nerves as they walked across the green into the tent.

This homage carry-on has become a thing now, and I don’t like it.  Let the viewers follow up with the baker who was sent home, give them a follow, buy their book and leave it at that.

The silliness of it can be grasped easily by any on-looker from the intensity of each bake last night; even from a crumb of sweat you could sense every one of those four semi-finalists was ravenous for the nod, the handshake, the Star Baker, The Win.

None of them were genuinely sad to see Henry the Tie man go. So, stop with the wish he was here’ing. It’s dog eat dog in that tent, so stop letting on it isn’t, its unfair to the great bakers that have come and gone, cried and celebrated there over the last ten years, and its unfair to us the viewer. Ok, rant over.

One thing about the real business of the Bake-Off Semi Final that I want to make sure I mentioned today, was the Signature.  They made it look stressful, fecky and out of reach for the average baker, but they barely had an hour and a half, whereas we’ve got all day and over night in our own kitchens.

Sablee pastry isn’t as fancy as it sounds on the telly nor in Rosie’s recipe; its basically a sweet desert pastry for tartlets so start there.

I think a dome finish can be achieved by any baker’s skill level, and I wouldn’t dream of loading one with the range of combinations Rosie had in hers; mint and raspberry, yuzu, lemon and white chocolate.  But then I’m not putting it in front of the Hollywood, nor am I in their shoes.

Yet Steph has proved time and time again that less is more in the Signatures, (like last week’s onions) and I’m going mad her recipe hasn’t been made available.  But I’m sure we can figure it out.

Start with the tartlet, and here one I made earlier, and off we go with jam, lemon curd mousse maybe, and a bitta’ glaze.  In fairness to our Star Baker last night, Alice’s Chocolate Orange dome tarts are definitely worth a crack.

You might have some interest in the Technical yourselves, but it was of no use last night for Rosie who won but still ends up with Joe Brand on Friday nights Slice.

I tried to enjoy the Showstopper which to be fair ended in a spectacular display when they went before the Judges , and I appreciated learning something new that could be easily attempted at home with the sugar glass; but Alice’s labour pain face was too much – especially when she stood in front of Paul and Pru, it made Cake look painful. 

Actually, I’m already cringing about the Final; but as some of us know about labour pain it’s all easily forgotten.

So our Finalists, Steph Blackwell, Alice Fevronia and the veg meh, David Atherton combine to compete in the youngest (average) age Bake Off Final in its ten years.

I’m going to break with Bake’Sheet tradition here, as it’s my second last one anyway, and infuse a few spoilers because I think ye might want to have a pen and paper ready next week.

Signature will be a Chocolate Cake, and the Technical is a Souffle so expect there to be different starting times and one by one Judging, so nerves in the tent will be like dried seaweed and cracking to the touch.

The Showstopper is a Bake Off favourite, an Illusion Cake, but without any tricks, it must created from three elements only; Cake, Biscuits and Bread.  So while Alice was biscuit week Star Baker she’ll miss using her brightly coloured slash glass for dazzle, and this might prove true, David meh; I don’t care.

I’d like to say good luck to all in the final, but actually I mean, good luck to us the watchers; I’ll not cope with Alice’s crampy labour pain face, or  David’s smirky smuggy vegan grins.

Feck em Steph!  Prove me right girl!

Pic: Channel 4


JP Swaine

Founded in 2009, mental health charity First Fortnight staged its first annual, two-week arts festival in 2012 to make the First Fortnight of each year synonymous with “mental health awareness, challenging prejudice and ending stigma”.

The charity has since become a mental health service provider with the establishment in 2013 of the First Fortnight Centre for Creative Therapies in Dublin.

First Fortnight write:

Every year, looking forward to our next festival means looking back at the work that we’ve done in years gone by. This year brings more cause for reflection than others as a massive part of First Fortnight is no longer at the table.

Earlier this year, our co-founder J.P Swaine decided the time had come for him to say farewell to the charity.

JP has been the driving force of the organisation for more than a decade – sparking ideas, encouraging others, leading by example and always ensuring the charity stayed true to its goal to challenge mental health stigma.

First Fortnight began at JP’s kitchen table and through it all we have been privileged to share space, physical and mental, with someone whose extraordinary efforts have inspired not only those of us who had the opportunity to work with him, but every single person who has ever been influenced by the work of First Fortnight.

With the New Year and FF2020 on the horizon, we hope you’ll join us at the launch of First Fortnight 2020 on November 27th (full details to follow) to show our appreciation and gratitude to JP as we continue the work that he started all those years ago.

JP, there will always be a place for you at the kitchen table!

Thank you!

In fairness.

First Fortnight (Facebook)

JP Swaine


Paul Dillon writes:

The Financial Services Union has launched a petition seeking legislation on the ‘right to disconnect’.

The Union says that new laws are required that would give workers the right to ‘switch off’ once their working day is over.

Workers should not be obliged to answer calls, reply to emails or engage in work-related activities outside of paid working hours.

Sign here

Financial Services Union

Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Thurrock, Essex, England this afternoon


Gardaí are satisfied the 39 people found dead in a container in the UK this morning were not trafficked through the Republic of Ireland.

Detectives from the Garda National Immigration Bureau and officers from Special Crime Operations have been investigating the route the truck, and the container, took from Europe to Essex in England.


This afternoon.

The truck at the centre of the container tragedy in Essex is registered in Bulgaria and is owned by an Irish woman, according to the Bulgarian foreign ministry.

….Gardaí are investigating if the container transited through the Republic of Ireland.

They said they have not received a formal request for assistance, but are carrying out their own inquiries into the route the lorry may have taken.

They are also trying to establish if the lorry and container travelled to Holyhead from Dublin Port….

Truck at centre of Essex tragedy ‘owned by Irish woman’ – Bulgarian foreign ministry (RTÉ)


Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Thurrock, Essex, England this morning

This morning.

Thirty nine bodies have been found in a container in Thurrock in Essex, police have said.

The bodies were found in a lorry Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Thurrock, Essex at roughly 1.40am this morning adding a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder

Live Thurrock Eastern Avenue updates after 39 dead bodies found in lorry container on industrial estates (EssexLive)

39 bodies including one teenager are found in a lorry container in Essex as driver, 25, from Northern Ireland is arrested on suspicion of murder (MailOnline)

Pic: Essex Live