The Great British Bake-Off

I heard some great news today. On Tuesday the 22nd of September its the return of the Great British Bake-off, complete with a new line-up. The wonderful Sandi Toksvig (like the equally wonderful Mary Berry) will be sadly missed. I am not a fan of reality TV, but once in a while something slips through the rubbish that is actually worth watching like; The British Sewing Bee, Painter of the Year and The Great British Bake- off. Anything that shows you a new skill is always good to watch and talk about!

Home- baking featured heavily in Lock-down 2020, flour was like gold dust as baking was seen as a great way of passing the time. Children learnt to bake with their parents, as I did as a child. The extra pounds gained from eating all these lovely sugar-filled treats was not so good. Now we are all have to eat less and exercise more to get back in shape, but it was worth it. My niece loves baking but takes what she makes into her workplace rather than eating it herself, much kinder to her waistline. Making her very popular with her colleagues too.

Before the Great British Bake-Off came to our screens. Home- Baking was seen as the domain of the WI, garden fetes and Grand-mothers. Now it’s for everyone and the marketplace is full of trendy, creative, youthful bakers, male and female. Even Waterstones has shelves full of baking books.

First aired on BBC Two on the 17th of August 2010, GBBO as it’s known as was an instant hit. I’ve become completely addicted. Whether it’s learning about the intricacies of the perfect pie crust, obsessing about soggy bottoms or lusting after the delicious cakes.

If you haven’t come across it before; the general idea is that ten home bakers take part in a bake-off to test every aspect of their skills as they battle to be crowned the Great British Bake Off’s best amateur baker. The series follows the trials and tribulations of the competitors, young and old, from every background and corner of Britain. They’re home cooks with a sense of humility and fun making them very likeable and watchable. Many past contestants have gone on to appear on their own series and produce books. Each week the bakers tackle a different baking skill. Cake-baking, pastry, bread-making and patisserie skills are all shown, ending with a showstopper which is the most creative. The tasks becoming progressively more difficult. Sometimes the results are successful and at times a total disaster. With lots of laughter and tears along the way. In a world where everyone wanting to be the best, it’s refreshing to see a group of people who genuinely cheer each other on. There’s a real sense of community and friendship, that does not feel forced. The spirit of kindness and niceness runs through the program. It’s no small thing in today’s world to be kind. But if a bunch of home bakers can bond over biscuits, it makes me feel like perhaps the rest of us can show a bit more kindness too.

It’s almost echoing back to a different era of tea parties, picnics and nostalgic Britain. Aprons, bunting and marques have all had a fashionable comeback. Home- made is seen as special and not more inferior than shop bought. Even the pretty hand-draw pictures that are used on GBBO have a special, unique character. I think that its a good thing to be nostalgic at times, particularly in such an era of uncertainty, anxiety and upheaval. Anything that makes you smile or reminisce about easier times can be uplifting. It’s not about looking backwards rather than forwards, but maybe some accepts of the past are worth returning to; making more ourselves, been happier with less, community, finding pleasure in simple things and teaching our younger generation to be able to make things etc. As I mentioned in my previous blog, statistics have shown we are less content now than in the 1950’s. It’s unrealistic to go back 60 years, but surely its worth considering why these were happier times and what can we learn. So as to change for the better. Happy Baking.

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