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.