Paul Hollywood shows his softer side as Channel 4's Junior Bake Off gets off to a hilarious start

By Emily Martin

Make yourself a cuppa, grab yourself a slice of cake and let's have a little chat about Junior Bake Off, shall we?

You know when things go a bit wrong on grown-up Bake Off?

That's our favourite bit.

We love it when someone's spun-sugar cage falls off or the roof of their gingerbread house caves in.

It's so tense and it's always a bad moment, but it's usually something really technical and it goes wrong in the detail.

"Your lemon mirror-glaze has just a little too much cardamom," Prue Leigh will say.

Or Paul Hollywood will narrow his eyes as he chews and say "These rock cakes are every so slightly overbaked."

But on Junior Bake off things don't just go a bit wrong, they go so, so very terribly wrong it's absolutely wonderful from start to finish.

Harry Hill hosts this new series of the junior version of the baking competition with Ravneet Gill and also Paul Hollywood this week standing in for Liam Charles, who was off ill.

Firstly, the whole idea of a child using the oven is stressful enough but tent is up in the grounds of Benenden School and it's Cake Day for a new batch of junior bakers so we're resolved to watch and just hope appropriate health and safety risk assessment forms have been signed by parent and/or guardians.

The first technical challenge? Mini-piggy rolls.

You know when kids come home from school with something they've "made" and you have to eat it?

Well a lot of these cakes look like that.

"Mine look like rats," says someone as they try with sticky, licked fingers to add details of pig faces to their smashed sponges.

The judges have to then try the cakes (horror) and offer a few comments like: "The don't really look like pigs".

It's amazing none of the children start crying.

Next it's the showstopper and the bakers have to make a cake to represent the proudest moment of their lives.

There's Lola's VE day party cake - a party she proudly organised herself.

Mia creates a cake to show the moment her dog (almost) won in a dog show.

Joey makes a confectionery recreation of a breakdance competition he was in.

Quique makes a cake to show the moment he got a football out of a fountain.

Basically, everything the junior bakers say and do is totally charming and hilarious.

"I came to win," says Joey age 11. "I came, I saw, I conquered. That's a famous saying."

You can imagine Joey saying this on The Apprentice in 10 years time but for now he's only 11 and it's totally OK.

Paul Hollywood walks round gently trying to suggest things that might help the bakers and it's very nice to see his softer side although he still retains the cheeky blue-eyed twinkle.

As Quique tries to prod some buttercream across a broken sponge with a knife Paul offers kindly: "Might you try putting it in a piping bag? I might be wrong."

Hats of the children, though.

We don't know a single child aged 10 in real life who could successfully make even a piece of toast, or focus on one task for two hours, let alone bake and ice a cake in that time.

Junior Bake Off continues tonight at 5pm on Channel 4.


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