Frivolity

The Great British Baking Show!

I’m finally starting to feel better after nearly a month of being down with a sinus infection. It’s really hard being that sick when you live alone. One thing that helped me through were friends who checked in on me and brought Robitussin and neti pot salt when I ran out. Another thing that helped was comfort TV—including the Great British Bake Off.

I’m sure many of you have already watched. I had been resisting, fearing it would be too much like some of the US reality TV, which a friend described as putting rats in a cage and watching them eat each other. I was relieved to see that TGBBS is totally different.

A few things I love about it that provide some faint justification as research:

– It is set at English country estates, and baking episodes are interspersed with vignettes of scenery, sheep and wildlife. Very atmospheric!
– Contestants come from all over the British Isles, so there is a diversity of accents and dialects, also many of them draw on their local traditions and foods for inspiration.
– A few of the baking challenges involve historical foods that might have been made during the Regency.

Other aspects I love:
– The baking challenges are difficult and the standard of judging is high, but there isn’t the kind of gimmicky, almost practical joke style stuff thrown in randomly to add to the difficulty.
– The judges critique the baking but are supportive to the contestants as aspiring bakers.
One actually can see many of the contestants learning new skills and developing more self confidence throughout the challenges.
– There is competition but not the sort of backstabbing too often emphasized in reality TV. People cry and hug at the end of the session when someone is picked to leave.
– Silly baking puns and jokes like “10 more minutes to polish your choux” and “30 minutes remaining on your mirror glazes. On reflection, 29.”
– I enjoy the insights into the creative process, the choices of when and how to take creative risks while still striving to reliably create something beautiful and delicious.

Probably most of all, I love how the series showcases home bakers—people who show their love for friends and family by making delicious things. I think this correlates with the fact that the contestants are such overwhelmingly likeable people who act more like a team than competitors. (One even called the group a team.)

Also, I really want to try making some of the things they make (though not my own phyllo dough, thank you very much!)

For those unfamiliar with the show, here is a clip of Top Ten Moments:

Here is a wonderful interview with the 2015 winner, Nadiya Hussein.

And here’s a link to one of the recipes I want to try: Kate’s Sticky Toffee Apple Caramel Cake.

Does anyone else love this show? What do you like best about it? Have you tried any of the published recipes and how did that turn out?

Elena

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