Ready, Set, BAKE!

I am not a fan of television. When my television was stolen in 2010, I lived quite happily without a replacement for a month. I don’t have cable or a subscription to an internet service like Netflix or Amazon Prime. When I do turn on the television, I’m either watching PBS, hockey, college basketball or Jeopardy! 

But, like most people, I have a guilty pleasure television show. And it happens to be a reality show.

I stumbled upon The Great British Baking Show (broadcast in Great Britain by the BBC as The Great British Bake Off) last year during a snow day. I watched in fascination as the contestants toiled in a tent over their baking stations. Each task was timed, leading to the perfect reality show drama. Would they finish? Would the cake rise evenly? Would the chocolate temper?

The show is hosted by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. The finished products are judged by cookbook author Mary Berry and artisan baker Paul Hollywood. The contestants are amateur bakers who face a variety of challenges each week. There is a signature bake, a technical bake and a show-stopper bake. At the end of every episode, one baker is named star baker. And someone is sent home weekly until the end of the season when one winner is selected.

I love to bake and come from a long line of cookie bakers. While I would never consider entering a baking competition, I have no qualms about binge-watching the episodes as I work on a crochet project. Yesterday I watched the first four episodes of the most recent season. The finale will air next week on BBC, but we won’t get the final episode here in the United States until the end of next month. I have my theories about who will win based on what I’ve seen so far, and I’m trying to avoid any spoilers.

One of the main reasons I like the show is the great quotes related to baking often said by the hosts, judges and contestants. For example, in episode 1, Paul describes Rob, a contestant who happens to be a scientist, saying, “He’s not a scientist. That guy’s a baker.”

This caused me to shout, “But baking IS science! It’s chemistry in your kitchen.”

Paul redeemed himself at the end of the episode. After tasting Rob’s cake, Paul complimented him on his flavor combination and texture, saying “You’re a true scientist.”

However, it was Glenn who had the best quote of the afternoon binge-watch session. Before being eliminated in episode 4, Glenn explained why he bakes.

“Baking is not food on the table. Baking is love. That’s why we do it.”

Yes! It is exactly why we bake. When you give someone a homemade treat, you are giving them love. At least, that is what I am doing when I give out cookie trays at Christmas.

Baking is science. It is knowing which leavening agent to use to obtain the desired results. It is knowing how to develop gluten and how long to proof your dough.

But if baking were just science, we wouldn’t get excited when co-workers bring a batch of cookies into our office. If baking were just science, we wouldn’t start salivating when we walk into a house and smell bread in the oven.

Baking is love. And I love watching other bakers share their love – even if they are on my television screen.

The photo shows a long table covered with paper. There are multiple wire racks on the table, each rack contains dozens of a variety of cookies.
Each year at Christmas, my family makes dozens of cookies to give away. Photo courtesy of S. DiNoto.




13 thoughts on “Ready, Set, BAKE!

  1. I had no idea this show is broadcast in the US. I watched the first series, but I find the comments so irritating I don’t watch it any more. Mary Berry was a TV chef way back – far too far for me to want to admit that I watched occasionally. I envy your no TV. DH watches wall to wall sport sometimes – I’d rather crochet 😉


    • Yes – the comments are a bit much sometimes. But they do make me laugh. I mean, it’s baking – not something like medicine or life saving decisions. The “drama” keeps me chuckling. And actually, the judges give the contestants good feedback. If something doesn’t work, they say why.


  2. Funny how each country has different foods considered desserts and pastry. I’m impressed that they all had to make filo the other day, in their allotted time, too. I wonder if they are given the following weeks baking theme to practice on while they are away from the show all week? Still fun to watch, I agree.


  3. I love baking and love watching this show too…. I don’t find the comments irritating… just all in good fun. So much better than crude American and even Canadian so called “humour”. However, I can’t find anywhere here where we can get the old shows…so have only actually seen half of one season and the whole of the last season that we are privy to. Darn it. Some folks in the U.S. have seen it on Netflix….we don’t get the same shows on Netflix I guess..

    I’d love to stop over to test your baking ….

    I’ve just made Paul’s Bloomer loaf ….yummy!!!


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