In this post, I am going to describe my obsession with what is, in my opinion, the best programme on British television: The Great British Bake Off. Literally, this post is so biased, it is unbelievable!
Approaching its fourth series, which begins on 20th August BBC2 @ 8pm, the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) has gathered close to 7 million viewers for the previous series finale. Starting meagrely with around 2.5 million viewers, this homely series, which began in 2010, was considered by critics to be just a one off programme. How wrong they were. The GBBO has now become part of an institution here in the UK with many versions being created around the world, including America, Norway and the baking capital of the world, France. Nobody would ever think a TV programme could respark Britain’s love affair with baking but I found its charm welcoming in the first episode.
The GBBO consists of 3 challenges tackling different baking disciplines. Each week has a different theme and there is a signature challenge, where the bakers make a tried and tested recipe handed down to them from a family member, a technical challenge, where the judges, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, give the bakers an unseen recipe which lacks specific details, and then the showstopper challenge where the bakers must make a bake which is a centrepiece. At the end of each week, the judges award one baker with the title of “Star Baker”, who is the baker who has impressed the judges with their bakes, and send one of the bakers home because they have failed to impress the judges across the week. During the show, Mel and Sue will interject with some baking history.
But what makes the GBBO so appealing? Is it the great relationship of the judges? Is it the comedic view from the presenters, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins? Or is it the tension created by the eating of a scone? I think it is all of these. When it comes to the final judging, Paul scrutinises every layer of pastry lamination while Mary compliments the bakers on their good flavour combinations. There is Mel and Sue who takes cheeky bites of the bakes as they come out of the oven. They are always on hand to offer comfort when the bakers forget to blind bake their pastry and also are ready to eat the leftover ingredients. In the technical challenge, there is the 5 second pause from when Paul places the scone in his mouth before saying, “It’s overworked.”
Paul saying something is “overworked” is not uncommon. One of the most famous catchphrases from the show is a “soggy bottom” which appears due to the filling in the pastry case being too wet so the pastry has not fully cooked. Only in this decade could you say a tart had a soggy bottom and not get laughed at.
Every show has its top 5 moments, and here is my top 5 most memorable moments across all 3 series:
5. Mary-Anne’s Disaster with a Piping Bag
In the signature millefeuille challenge in the final of Series 2, Mary-Anne Boermans was covering the top pastry with glace icing. As she moved the piping bag over the pastry, it burst and orange icing went all over the icing. She had to scrape all the icing off but her millefeuille still looked amazing.
4. Salt vs Sugar
Confusing salt and sugar is always a huge problem, but the baker who did this came back to do incredibly well in the series. In fact he won it. In the first episode of Series 3 during the Rum Baba technical challenge, John Whaite lined his savarin moulds with salt instead of sugar.
3. John cuts himself – Bloody strudels!
John appears again at my Number 3. Whilst making his strudel dough, John cut his finger on the Magimix machines they use.Fortunately Danny Bryden, another contestant, was a trained medical assistant, so John was kept assured he was safe. Whilst an injury was not a first for the GBBO, nobody being eliminated was. Two were eliminated the following week.
2. Rob is no Pushover
In the showstopper for the first episode of Series 2, Rob Billington challenged himself to make a Genoise sponge. As he poured his chocolate ganache over his genoise sponges and starting to spread it over, he tipped his cake onto the floor. Swearing was obviously beeped but Paul came to the rescue after seeing that one sponge hadn’t touched the floor. Both the judges agreed that his sponge tasted amazing.
1. Warning: May contain nuts
What has to be the most famous incident in the entire series occurred in Series 2 is the squirrel whose private parts were captured on camera, and is seen in the picture at the top. I don’t even have anything to say about it. It is pretty self explanatory why it is the most memorable moment in GBBO history.
Have you watched the GBBO? What was your favourite moment? Who was your favourite contestant? Are you going to be watching the new series on 20th August BBC2 @ 8pm? Tell me in the comments below!