Reaction to Bake Off: Creme de la Creme

So tonight (29/3/16) saw the first episode of the professional version of The Great British Bake Off called Bake Off: Creme de la Creme air on BBC Two. Lots of Bake Off fanatics sat in front of their tellies, probably with a slice of cake (or two), eager to see how professionals would take to baking in the Bake Off Tent.

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Except they weren’t in the Tent, there were even scarier judges than Paul and Mary (turns out there is a judge scarier than Paul Hollywood, who would have thought it?!) and Mel and Sue were nowhere to be seen. The show has split the British audience; many praised the show for its original take on the Bake Off format while others found it boring and too intense and stressful, the complete polar opposite to the much beloved Bake Off.

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So what is wrong with the show? Bake Off has always been credited with reigniting the British love of baking; every year we see a new statistic of which supermarket saw a 28% increase in sales of ground almonds because they made a Bakewell tart in one episode. Bringing bakes up to the gingham, the rain splattering against the marquee while someone brings their cake out of the oven in an unfortunate case of pathetic fallacy and the nationwide ‘awws’ and ‘oohs’ when Dorret’s Black Forest Gateaux collapses out of the acetate and when Paul brings up his King of the Jungle bread respectively are all what makes the show just work so well. It’s just so quintessentially British.

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Yet CDLC (as I will now call it) didn’t have any of this. None of the tension came from watching amateur bakers opening their ovens to see if their Madeiras had a crack. Instead it came from one of the bakers telling the camera to go away while swearing because his raspberry gel hadn’t set and another told the cameraman to “not film me while doing this” whereas in Bake Off, contestants simply walk out of the tent after throwing their bake in the bin (Iain!) or they just cry at the side while Sue arrives to comfort them.

There was no innuendo, no soggy bottom klaxon and absolutely no baking puns. It was all a bit serious for my (and others) liking. Now obviously the seriousness goes hand in hand with the show but it felt a bit foreign to me. It didn’t feel like Bake Off anymore, it felt like Cupcake Wars had been mixed (and sifted, folded with a spatula, put into the tin and baked for 25 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean) with Top Chef. There was a lot of running around whereas the contestants do a brisk walk in the Tent.

Flora Cream Horns

Something else that the show added in were the comments about the other bakes. This addition, stolen from MasterChef, was what ruined the show on the second (strained) watch. It doesn’t feel very British and neither very diplomatic. On MasterChef and on Bake Off, we see the cook/baker criticise their own food/bake and every other contestant comes over to compliment them and find positives even if their creme brulees are a bit runny. On CDLC, the bakers TEAR into the other teams like they don’t have a camera on them. This was my least favourite element. Most of us would be so incredibly proud to produce bakes and showpieces like that in 3 days let alone 3 hours. Imagine how demoralising it would be to have such comments on Bake Off!

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The bitchiness was amongst the only glimpse of personality we saw from the bakers. Unlike Bake Off, we don’t have the favourite person that we want to see through to next week because we don’t know what will happen next week (Howard and his hemp, Sandy and her swimming and strangling Paul, Brendan with another retro bake and Norman being Norman). Instead we have a few arrogant personalities who are quite jarring and hard to warm to. We love an underdog as a nation and I was genuinely disappointed to see that the young team of Reece, Ben and Lauren didn’t make it through.

Nadiya Face Mary Quinoa Flour

And as Scott Bryan of Buzzfeed fame tried last year, one of the things we love about Bake Off is that the recipes look so enticing that we try some of them the next weekend (which usually involves the ingredient you are looking for being sold out, happened to me many times!). Except with CDLC, we can’t copy any of the bakes because we don’t keep yuzu juice, matcha powder and titanium dioxide in our storecupboards. What I felt was missing from the show were tips from the judges on how to recreate the perfect dacquoise or how to make feuilletine at home. Just a 2 minute break in proceedings would have added so much to the show.

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No matter how tough Paul and Mary are, they do offer the bakers hints, tips and tricks on how to fix what went wrong. And while we saw hints of that from Cherish telling James to turn his cylinder the other way, the judges, in particular Benoit, were very strict. They picked on things that frankly didn’t need to be picked up on like the aprons. I understand that the aprons shouldn’t be dirty however you cannot exactly expect their kitchens to be spotless while making 108 petit fours in 3 hours. We all know that when something goes wrong in the kitchen, it looks like a bombsite. I get that this is important in professional industry but it’s a stressful, high pressure competition, it shouldn’t matter. But Benoit had enough facial expressions to match Nadiya last year.

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Here are what some people on Twitter said about the show:

Check out Self Raising Flower by clicking here.

Check out Jack Knight Cooks by clicking here.

HOWEVER I did really like some aspects of the show. I like the point system because you can really gauge how everyone compares to each other. On Bake Off, it can be hard to know who is doing better because the comments and final result are all subjective and can be influenced by past challenges and Star Bakers. Although if anyone gets more than 70%, it will be a miracle! And it does a brilliant job of showcasing the amazing talents and skills of these patissiers, which really is what the show is all about.

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But the show was missing something.

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I missed seeing Sandy strangling Paul when she was eliminated.

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I missed seeing Mel and Sue coming in to help (or hinder) with their bakes.

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I missed seeing Paul’s fondant sunbather with a gusset.

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The show was just a bit too intense and competitive for me. I will watch it again next week because it’s a show about baking but I doubt I’ll be baking anything from the show and if there is even more swearing, arrogance and bitchiness, this might become the first ever time that I abstain from a Bake Off show.

Sorry Benoit, it’s most definitely not

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from me.

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2 thoughts on “Reaction to Bake Off: Creme de la Creme

  1. Hannah

    I totally agree with everything you’ve written, Andrew! I liked the second episode better because I went into it with lower expectations. I went to the BBC Good Food show today and Tom Kerridge was there being interviewed so of course CDLC came up… both he and the interviewer were very quick to state that although it’s being made by the same production company as GBBO, it’s not meant to be a spin-off of the original. Interesting that they had to make that point!
    Hannah 🙂

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    1. AndrewintheKitchen Post author

      Hi Hannah, thanks for your comment. I agree, I much preferred the second episode! Lower expectations aside, small things like the Army and Kumiko’s teams being considerate and sensitive to the other teams after judging made it more comfortable to watch. Wow aren’t you lucky, I think many are aware of the criticism around the series for being labelled as Bake Off and need to clarify that it’s a separate programme and not just a spin-off. Whilst I think there are things wrong with the programme compared to Bake Off (it’s hard not to make a comparison), it’s still a good programme to watch in the evening.

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