We Watched "Nailed It" With A "Bake Off" Baker And Found It Stressful
Andrew Smyth, one of the finalists from the 2016 series of The Great British Bake Off, watched two episodes with us.
There's this show on Netflix called Nailed It, where three quite crap bakers try to replicate fancy bakes in just hours.
It makes you wonder what proper bakers would think of this show – so we watched Nailed It with Andrew Smyth from Bake Off, who is fondly remembered for once baking a bread basket and then wearing it as a helmet.
We watched two episodes together. Andrew baked and brought brownies as snacks.
Our first thoughts are about the prize: $10,000.
Andrew: Money?! There's money at stake? This is definitely more than intense than Bake Off. Oh my, there's a money gun! Everyone needs a money gun. Name me one show that wouldn't be better with a money gun. There is so much more than just a cake stand at stake.
At the start of each episode we are introduced to three contestants, who all admit that they are not the best at baking.
Andrew: [jokes] Maybe the wine isn't helping.
In the first challenge of one of the episodes, the bakers have to recreate a cookie shaped like their own face.
Andrew: This is when you hope you have a really plain face.
Scott: Is an hour long enough to bake for something like this? For me when I bake, it takes me 20 minutes, half an hour, to measure out the ingredients.
Andrew: I mean, I've seen your baking, Scott. I don't think I need to say anything else.
[We both then watch ingredients being measured out with different levels of success.]
Andrew: Volume metric measurements, that's stressful. What is with Americans and cups?!
As you can imagine, their reveals are rather interesting.
Andrew: It looks like those chin faces that you paint. An upside-down chin face.
Scott: I reckon that they are actually trying though.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean they want the money.
[We then look at the cheese puffs on one of the cookies.]
Andrew: I feel the colour of those aren't legal in the UK.
In the episode's main challenge, the bakers have to re-create a full-scale cake replica of Donald Trump's face in two hours.
Andrew: I mean, I don't think anybody on Bake Off, past or present, could re-create that.
Andrew: No! Doing a face is really difficult! That's just a sculptor's job, being able to 3D sculpt a face. That's for an artist, not a baker.
Each of the bakers has a panic button they can use to call for a judge to give them advice for three minutes.
Andrew: There's definitely lessons Bake Off could take, like the panic button. Great idea. I like the idea of the judges or Sandy or Noel coming over for three minutes, even for a massage or a little calming moment.
Scott: I feel that in Bake Off they come over at the most inappropriate moment when you are really stressed.
Andrew: If you could have, like, a “go away” button that you are allowed to use once and the cameras have to abandon you and retreat to a distance...
[We then watch a baker cut their bake in two to fit it around a pole.]
Andrew: Why did she not cut a notch? What is she doing? She's cutting it in half and putting it either side of the pole and then being like, “Yeah, I'm done.”
When the replica Trump heads are revealed, Andrew doesn't think they did too badly, actually.
Andrew: I think for balance you need to also see a professional chef with the same time, without the same prep, do the same challenge, just to realise. I actually think they have not done a bad job here. I don't think I would do any better.
Andrew: Well, I would know not to do raw red round the eyes, but there's no way I could sculpt a face.
In another episode, the bakers have to make vodka-filled cake pops that look like mouths or broken hearts.
Andrew: I have made cake pops with leftover cake. And they can be delicious. So leftover cake if you've got off-cuts, it's a really good way to use off-cuts because you can just crumb it, because you don't need the original shape you can just crumb it and then you can make it and then you can dip it in chocolate.
[Elena, one of the bakers, doesn't seem to be doing well with her bake.]
Andrew: It started so strong with her heart shapes. That looks like a doner kebab. Also, like everything in this show is vanilla. Plain biscuit. Plain cake. Plain buttercream. More plain cake. Buttercream. Then vodka.
Scott: Do you think in that case it is all about the appearance of it?
Andrew: I think it is much more form over function.
[The second game is introduced.]
Andrew: So the first challenge doesn't mean anything?
Scott: Pretty much.
And in the main challenge for that episode, the contestants have to bake a three-tiered Sylvia Weinstock wedding cake, with a bunch of fondant roses for the top.
Scott: How long do you reckon it would take to make a cake like that, of that standard?
Andrew: That looks incredible. I mean, she would have spent a day, two days on that.
Scott: You would have two hours to make this.
Andrew: To make a three-tiered...? Ohhhh. Those flowers are sensational, but the idea that they can make that many cakes in two hours, let alone decorate them?
Because of time restrictions, we see contestant Heather having to ice her bake when it is fresh out of the oven. We hear judge Jacques saying that it should be put in the freezer first.
Andrew: They look good, but it's going to start melting. This is an impossible task.
Scott: Because in an untimed scenario you would let it cool.
Andrew: Her sponges look good, but I mean there's no way you can cool a cake. I mean there's entertainment and there's impossible, Scott. This is impossible.
Scott: I see what you mean.
Andrew: They are destined to fail. At least on Bake Off, it is technically possible.
When the bakers just have over 30 minutes to spare, we see guest judge Sylvia Weinstock in the food supply room nicking supplies.
Andrew: I mean, I did take a hamper from the Bake Off tent.
Scott: You did not!
Andrew: All the finalists did, unofficially. What? [looking around] Who said that?!
Scott: What was in the hamper?!
Andrew: It was what we had in the final. It somehow ended up at home. Or maybe they didn't. Everyone ended up with some accidental freebies from the Bake Off tent.
Scott: You just would, wouldn't you?
Andrew: The odd timer. Nothing large.
The contestants then start work on their fondant roses, with only 20 minutes left on the clock.
Scott: Oh god. They have to make these in 20 minutes!!
Andrew: It took me 10 minutes to make one average rose for a wedding cake last year.
Scott: After you had done one rose were you a bit “fuck this”?
Andrew: After I have done two, I am totally done with them. I admire anybody who can do it, it's just not my thing at all. You have got to be patient, like a sculptor. I am not a sculptor. You know what, credit to them... In two hours, I think they have all done well there.
And then it's time to present the cakes to the judges.
Andrew: There ain't no time for the freezer.
Scott: You can't put cakes in the freezer, can you?
Andrew: Oh, you can. Once it is covered you could, yeah. I mean, the time doesn't add up for this. It is impossible in the time. Like, if that was on Bake Off we would have been given three and a half, four hours.
[Elena is announced the winner of the episode.]
Andrew: You know what, I think she did herself proud there.
And here are our conclusions...
Scott: Would you watch other episodes in the series?
Andrew: [three seconds of silence] Maybe not. You know what I find it, it's very, it's so American and the way that the editing is done, everything is in your face and everything is made very obvious, there's no subtly to it.
Scott: I think it also so strange because when somebody bakes badly on Bake Off, you don't normally have the judges laugh at them.
Andrew: But usually, there's tears on Bake Off whereas whatever happens in this it is positive. So in a way, if it goes terribly, they laugh. If it goes well, congratulations.
Scott: It's that sort of Bake Off positivity that's evident.
Andrew: But just in a different feel.
Scott: One point that you were making consistently throughout was firstly that everyone was trying and also that everyone was trying quite well.
Andrew: You know what, I think they could all be really good bakers. I think anybody would look like a crap baker in that scenario, so it's not that they are bad bakers, it's just... Here is an unrealistic situation – who crumbles the least?
Scott: What I find fascinating is that you said you would be shit if you were on this show.
Scott: I don't believe that.
Andrew: I think you can make a decent effort but, like, in that cake challenge for instance, I know how long it takes for a wedding cake to cool, which is a really long time, and the fact that they had a warm cake with buttercream, there is no way you can do that where it doesn't melt. Even if they had shoved it in the freezer, it would have been too solid, the texture would have been wrong. There was no way for them to win in that challenge. It was all about choosing which bit was going to be bad.
Scott: If there was the offer where you could be on it, to be participate or be a judge, would you think about it doing it?
Andrew: I would be a judge to use the money gun. And to get to steal some stuff from the pantry like dear Sylvia.