I hadn’t planned to write an entry to answer this question. Because I ASSUMED that all awesome, informed 21st century-living-breathing people know what this magical show is. Imagine my surprise when I texted one of my besties (and one part of girlintheworldproductions) and asked for help editing my wordiness. Below is a summary of conversation.
Me: help me! I’m going to bake a lot of things.
Her: Yes! Are you sending me British baked things?
Me: Yes. If I figure out how.
Her: One question….what is the Great British Bake Off?
That got me to thinking… some people may not actually know about this little piece of TV heaven. Maybe some of you are wondering why do I love GBBO, as well? Therefore, I decided to write a little background for anyone that cares to read. Please if you have more detailed information (or corrections), comment below. But this is what Wikipedia tells me:
“The Great British Bake Off (often referred to as Bake Off or GBBO) is a British television baking competition produced by Love Productions, in which a group of amateur bakers compete against each other in a series of rounds, attempting to impress a group of judges with their baking skills, with a contestant being eliminated in each round, with the winner being selected from the remaining contestants that make it to the finals. The show's first episode was aired on 17 August 2010, with its first four series broadcast on BBC Two, until its growing popularity led the BBC to move it to BBC One for the next three series. After its seventh series, Love Productions signed a three-year deal with Channel 4 to produce the show for the broadcaster.
The programme was originally presented by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, with judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.”
I won’t give you spoliers about who the winners are, since you can binge watch it on Netflix (while eating pie). Then, after negotiations it moved the series to Channel 4, the original presenters (the awesome duo) Mel and Sue decided not to the make the transition. Mary Berry also decided it was best for her to leave the series as well. Old Blue Eyes, Paul Hollywood has stayed on as judge with new judge Prue Leith. The current hosts are Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig.
The format of the show is a nice consumable hunk of crusty bread. Twelve amateur bakers (I think on occasion 13), are picked from thousands and thousands of submissions throughout the country. For ten weeks, they travel to the “tent” in the English countryside, complete with sheep, and bake THREE bakes over the course of a weekend. Each week is themed ie. cake, bread, etc. One day they complete a SIGNATURE BAKE, which they have gotten to practice throughout the week in the comfort of their own homes. They also complete a TECHNICAL CHALLENGE - which they have no clue what they will be baking- and often times I have no clue too ...since I have NEVER heard of 90% of the technical challenges (Kouign Amann?! (which is delicious btw, I recently had my first one, now I have to bake it)). The Technical Challenge is especially difficult because the recipe the bakers are supplied is a pared down version- meaning no directions!!! Often with no proofing or baking times or even how to combine the ingredients! The third and final bake of the weekend is the SHOWSTOPPER (insert jazz hands). And it is exactly as it sounds: complicated, beautiful, delicious (kinda like me). The bakers have had the chance to practice this as well, which leads me to believe that none of these bakers sleep while they are in the competition. This bake needs to be nothing short of sensational.
A baker leaves every week until the Final, where the last three bakers battle it out or bake it out to be the GREAT BRITISH BAKER! (#ironbaker)
WHY DO I LOVE GBBO, INQUIRING MINDS LIKE YOUR WANT TO KNOW.
Now that you know what I am up against… maybe you will have some sympathy when a bake of mine collapses. Not being negative...but it’s most likely (will) going to happen. The way the show came to be seems like an idyllic dream… it was pitched to emulate quaint village fetes that have community bake offs (In the words of Liz Lemon of 30Rock, “I want to go to there.”) and, surprisingly, inspired the baking competitions as seen on TV in the United States. One of the main reasons I find this “reality” show of the cooking genre so endearing, is that there is no drama, at least none of that manufactured drama to pit one baker against the other. There is a camaraderie amongst the bakers and I find that refreshing. I heard a rumor that when a baker was having a difficult and emotional time with the oven, Mel and Sue would stand by them and say all sorts of things that you can’t say on TV so that editors couldn’t use potentially embarrassing moments in the broadcast. Drama free reality TV? Yes, please. Of course all the nail biting (or cake biting) moments come from bakes toppling over the benches or the male judge poking his fingers through an underbaked bread. (#bakinghorror). The newest hosts, Noel and Sandi, often are emotionally choked up when they have to announce the next baker to leave... everyone truly becomes friends. I LOVE THAT. Probably because I am a nicer person when I am baking…
As far as I know, the winner of GBBO doesn’t receive loads of money or a contract to their own cookbook or anything like that… they get the title, a cool little cake stand and huge bouquet of flowers. So these bakers are literally just doing it out of their own passion and gumption. Again, AMAZING. Of course, many of the winners have gone on to write books or host other TV shows and things like that… but the main goal of all the bakers is to bake well and share it with people.
The show is like a mini baking school. I learn SO. MUCH. every time I watch it. I can only imagine the breadth of knowledge you absorb when you are actually in that tent. Maybe one day… one can only hope.
There you have it. A glimpse into my own baking addiction. Totally yummy and deliciously awesome. Or as Prue (and my husband) would say, “worth the calories.”