I’ve got a confession to make: this is only the third series of GBBO that I have watched. I’ve known about it from the start, in fact a friend even sent me an application for the first ever series (this was before anyone had any idea of the crazy high skill levels of the bakers!), and I’d watched bits and pieces of the occasional episode here and there but I hadn’t got in to it. I didn’t know the bakers. I didn’t love the bakers. It all seemed, quite frankly, a bit dull. I just didn’t really get it. But two years ago I started watching from the start of the series and became absolutely hooked. I think ‘knowing’ the bakers from the start really helped. As I was driving to work this morning, already looking forward to tonight’s show, I was thinking to myself ‘what is it that makes the GBBO so great?’ So, in no particular order, here are ten of the reasons I love it so:
1 – It’s about baking
Sure, this is obvious, but baking is wonderful.
2 – Mary Berry
Mary is a national treasure. For years my answer to the question (which I do often ask people) ‘if you could only eat one cake for the rest of your life (as much of it as you liked, but just that one type of cake), which would it be?’ was always Mary Berry’s carrot cake (made by my Mum). But in those days Mary was ‘just’ a lady who had written some good cook books (including a very good carrot cake recipe). She is now my hero. Well, one of them. What a wonderful woman: 80 years old, incredibly talented and absolutely delightful! She also has a fantastic range of facial expressions and colourful outfits. I’ve even read her autobiography which, apart from a lengthy section about gardening, was a lovely read.
3 – It’s great escapism
In a world where so much is often going wrong on a personal, national and global scale, what a joy to spend an hour where your biggest concern is whether someone else has remembered to turn the oven on, whether the bread will rise or whether or not the cake will have a soggy bottom. The drama of watching yet another baker kneeling on the floor peering in to the oven, or the terror in their eyes as Paul and Mary take a bite of their creation is, I think, rather therapeutic.*
(*Not meaning to belittle any of the crises either on or off the Bake Off.)
4 – Simon’s recaps
If you haven’t come across these yet, you must check out http://www.stuckinabook.com/tag/bakeoff/ where Simon does a weekly, very funny, recap of each show.
5 – It’s educational
Who knew? Learning can be fun! Learning about new bakes, new ways of baking and even food science and history too. Incidentally, I love the sound of being a ‘food historian’.
6 – Mel and Sue
Now, it has taken me a while to warm to these ladies. I’ve gone from finding them really quite annoying and what I thought let the show down, to actually rather enjoying quite a lot of their humour. Perhaps they are an aquired taste? This series seems to contain a lot less innuendo, which is always a relief, and there are now some non-pun jokes too, which can be a joy.
7 – The Bakers
Even just in the last 3 series there have been some fantastic characters amongst the bakers. You feel you get to know them; they are a talented and sometimes quirky bunch; and they bake some pretty amazing things.
8 – Office sweepstakes
I know mine isn’t the only workplace to have a sweepstake for the Bake Off. I recommend it to those of you who don’t have one. This is how we do ours (much better than all just putting £1 in, if you ask me): We all take a baker’s name out of the hat. The week your baker goes out you have to bake for the rest of the office ( = guarenteed weekly supply of cake too) and then the final winner gets bought £2 worth of baking related goods at the end. I’ve got Tamal this year, so I’m pretty chuffed with that. It also gives us something else to talk about at lunch time, which can’t be a bad thing.
9 – Paul Hollywood
It would be rude not to mention him, having mentioned the 3 ladies. He has nice eyes and I enjoy hearing him wish the bakers ‘good luck’. He also puts up with a fair bit from Mel, Sue and Mary.
10 – It’s about baking
Did I say that already?