Monday, 20 August 2012

Why we all love The Great British Bake Off

Sue, Mary, Paul and Mel
I was really excited when I woke up this morning. I thought episode two of the current series of The Great British Bake Off was on tonight. But then I realised today is only Monday. Nooooooo! Oh, the despair of having to wait another day. Episode one seems like aaaages ago, am I right?

For anyone who doesn't know about said brilliant TV show - firstly, what are you doing with your life? - it is a televised baking competition for amateur bakers, and quite frankly, a gem of a programme. There's no prize money or record contract for the winner, just the title of "The UK's Best Amateur Baker". Currently in its third series, the BBC 2 programme has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years (it even has its own app now not to mention numerous recipe books). We are a nation obsessed with cake, and this was most obvious on Twitter during last week's episode. After the series returned on Tuesday, I read a review in The Daily Telegraph claiming that the hour-long Great British Bake Off  (GBBO as it is known to the fans) episode would be better off condensed into half an hour, but I disagree wholly. We need a good hour to really feel for the contestants (who are, overall, extremely skilled bakers) and to understand the details and intricacies of what they're doing. What's more, I happen to highly enjoy the short clips educating us all about the history of baking.

The show inspires me to be more adventurous in my baking. Sometimes, in a wave of ambition, I think to myself "Maybe I should apply!", but then I watch an episode and realise just quite how challenging the competition is. The challenges are bloody difficult! And over the weeks the contestants get tested on just about everything it is possible to bake. I would have no chance. Every episode is themed, and the contestants have to create a signature bake, technical bake and showstopper bake. And, core blimey, some of them really are showstoppers.
showstopping cake. (pics from
The judges, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, are a perfect pairing. They both have high standards, but Paul is stern and instils the necessary fear in the contestants, whereas Mary is encouraging - we all wish she was our granny really, don't we? The presenters, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, are somewhat uncool in their comments (in the same way I am), but they make me chuckle and do a great job consoling the contestants and bringing the non-expert opinion to the (kitchen) table.

There are 12 bakers in the competition at the start of the show, and one leaves each episode. Sometimes it's predictable, sometimes there is shock. It is always tense. Just like any reality competition programme, some contestants will annoy us, and we grow fond of others. There are six men and six women, and whilst I don't doubt that there are men out there who bake, I just find it hard to believe that there was an equal number of men and women who made it to the top 12. This may be cynical of me, but surely it's easier for a man to get on to the GBBO? Perhaps I'm wrong... We shall have to see how these men progress. I know for a fact they will all be more skilled than me, for sure. Did you see that Union Jack cake last week? Uh-may-zing.

Adding to the charm of the GBBO is its set: a huuuge marquee decorated like the quaint country kitchen we all dream of. I'm talking Smeg pastel fridges, Union Jack bunting and gloriously clean work surfaces. What's more, the bakers have every piece of equipment or ingredient they could ever want. And THAT is a real luxury when it comes to baking. As a student, I have been known to use old takeaway boxes as baking trays. It was interesting.

The question is: Does The Great British Bake Off really inspire the general public to bake more? Or does it just make us want to eat more cake? I know what the answer is for me personally, that's for sure. The next episode is on tomorrow (Tuesday) at 8pm on BBC2. See you there!


  1. I can't wait for tonight's episode! Great review and yes, everyone wishes Mary Berry was their Granny, it's only sensible :-)

    1. Thanks Katie... I'm glad you agree with me. :) Yay for tonight's episode!

  2. Hi, great article - have a look at how my rum babas turned out

    1. Thanks - and you! They look great with the raspberries too.


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