I’m an addict.
“To what?” you ask.
The Great British Baking Show.
About a year or so ago, I watched season one of this baking show on Netflix, but that was all there was. The other day, my husband commented that he found it again. Netflix brought back Season 1, and added Seasons 2 & 3. Hooray!
Honestly, I have been chain-watching the first half of season 2. I had to hit the pause button on the remote just to be able to think about this slice. Can you believe I can’t even write with this show in the background? Usually, I can sit and write and tune out the t.v. if I need to, but not with this show. I want to learn how the bakers are conquering each new challenge. What is working and what is not. I just put my computer back away…
There are many reasons why I’m addicted. One thing I really like is that the people are amateurs. Not professional chefs. Just ordinary teachers or builders or grandmothers who love baking. People who bake for their families and friends and co-workers. They get to come prepared on the weekend (a show real people with jobs can participate in) with a “signature recipe” that meets the criteria of the week. They can demonstrate their ability with a recipe that they know and love.
Next, there is a technical challenge. Usually Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry gives them a recipe with minimal directions. What do they know? Do they know this or that technique? Can they manage their time? What do they know? They know a lot, and I have learned a lot. Did you know that English Muffins are made on a griddle? Did you know that most (it seems) British folk aren’t intimately acquainted with angel food cake? Did you know that adding fruit to yeast dough can slow down the rising time? Hmmm…me either.
Last, there is a final challenge. It is “show stopper.” It has to be a recipe in the theme that is over the top. The bakers are so talented and creative. Have you ever seen a cookie tower made to look like a Swiss lodge? Or, a Jenga tower of shortbreads? It’s just plain fun to watch.
In addition to the interesting things I am learning about baking, I also am learning a bit about how Americans view things differently than the British.
- British folk don’t seem to ascribe of the American motto of Go Big or Go Home. Comments by the judges to participants like “Your cake is too big!” make me wonder about myself. It looked the right size to me.
- The judges seem to like everything to be uniform. “Make 24 bar cookies (that isn’t that British baking term for bar cookies, and it sounded much fancier…but I can’t remember it right now) that are perfectly uniform for this challenge.” What American cares if the yummy bar cookies are perfectly the same size? Just give me the biggest one! What American doesn’t say it is better to be unique?
- British bakers seems genuinely interesting in baking for the fun of it. For the joy of winning the title of Star Baker, even just for one episode. The grand prize is a golden spatula, not a new house or a million dollars or a new food truck. What American would sign up for a show just to show they can do it?
- The British bakers have even been caught helping each other in the last stressful minutes of a challenge! Who would have thought that possible?
I love to bake, but I have learned that baking leads to eating and eating leads to bigger jeans and more time needed at the gym so I, sadly, have given up most baking. I think I’m going to change that. I want to do more than just watch people having fun baking. I want to bake. I’m sure even my “failures” will not go to waste. (My children already have said they would be quite willing to help dispose of the “cast aways.”” So in my retirement years, I want to adopt a British philosophy. A British philosophy of baking. Small is O.K. Make it beautiful and uniform. Bake for fun. Bake it yummy. Bake to earn the reward from my family and friends of Star Baker!
Hi. My name is Barbara, and I’m addicted to The Great British Baking Show.