Bake-Off — Hard Bakes, Easy Watch

Bake-Off fever is running at the appropriate temperature at which to perfectly bake a sponge cake, with a new series underway in the homeland, and last year’s series arriving tomorrow on US Netflix.

The Great British Bake-Off is the easiest reality show watch in the history of the genre. You won’t find yourself screaming at the contestants, unless they leave a baked-good in the oven for too long. Which, in the grand scheme of life’s mistakes, you can’t really be mad at them for. They burned a biscuit, they didn’t kill a dude.

There’s no hate-watching of the contestants, as most are likeable from the get-go. Those that seem a bit odd at first, often reveal more endearing sides in the future — unless they’re eliminated, of course. The only time I expressed a negative reaction towards any of the contestants, was when one revealed himself as a banker. But then he baked something delicious looking and all his sins were forgiven.

They have the token grandmother figure, who always makes it to the halfway-point but rarely wins; One woman who already looks as though she’s released a line of cookery books and has clear media experience; A man with a moustache that curls at the end, who can’t ride horses; A French woman, who lives in London, before you start pointing out the name of the show; And a Northern lad, who’s just happy to be there.

It’s too early to pick a winner, but typically you have to prove yourself to be marketable enough to sell a baking book. They don’t explicitly state this from the outset, but the implications are there. Sorry to bring a dash of cynicism to the Bake-Off tent, but to be fair, that’s about all I can conjure.

noelsandi

Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig have returned as hosts for their second-season, after replacing the duo of Mel and Sue last year. Their pairing was the biggest question-mark of last year’s show, but they silenced critics within the first few weeks.

Both of them are proven funny-people, but hosting Bake-Off requires an awful lot of empathy. Last year Sandi cried almost every episode, and the anarchic Noel knows when to bring it down a few levels. Their chemistry is natural, despite the fact that they’ve only worked together on panel shows in the past.

According to secret Bake-Off sources, Noel pitched the idea for a vegan baking week this time around, and we’ll be seeing it later in the series. At this point, nine seasons into the run, I’m glad they’re still able to come-up with some new themed episodes. The favourites will all be back of course, with the entire country on the edge of their seats, waiting for pastry week; Napkin in hand to mop up the contents from any over-active salivary glands, and a pastry-chef on speed-dial.

That’s the one down-side to watching Bake-Off — There aren’t enough cakes and biscuits in existence to satiate the desire to eat whilst watching. 90% of items produced on the show look delicious, and you wouldn’t throw the remaining 10% in the bin.

The problem is, if you prepare for the show in advance by making sure your cupboards are stocked with baked products, you run the risk of finishing the ten-week run of the show in a worse position than when you started. Sure, you might feel happier, having consumed ten weeks of the most wholesome show on television — but then you look in the mirror for the first time in months, and realise where all of the cakes and biscuits have gone.

Well, I don’t, because I have an over-active metabolism, but I’m sure that’s how everyone else feels. Oh boy do I love eating these delicious french pastries every morning — sorry, excuse me — crumbs.

makingit2

We’re currently consuming America’s version of a “soft” reality-competition show, in the form of NBC’s Making It. It follows a very similar formula to Bake-Off, although the judges constantly try to push the competition element as though it’s a traditional form of the genre.

Personally, I hope we see more of these reality shows in the coming years. I think this form is a response to the increased amount of hate and negativity in our societies, compared to even five years ago. In a world of Brexit, Trump, mass-shootings and natural disasters — the last thing we want to do is spend our down-time hate-watching something.

Our entire lives are currently one giant hate-watch — so therefore our entertainment needs to be light, warm and welcoming. Production companies could even revive and reboot older formats, but give them a more positive and nurturing spin. It’s not sugar-coating, it’s simply the escapism we need right now.

As I wrap-up this morning’s ramble, I have a little surprise for you. I’ve received a leaked list of baked-goods that will be made on this season of Bake-Off. Hopefully it’ll help you to have the right ingredients in stock, so you can make some of your own. You’re quite welcome, that’s so nice of you to say!

Now, to any of my non-British readers, some of these are quite traditional and region-specific, so you may not have heard of them.

So here’s the list of dessert items we’ll see baked this season, in no particular order:

  • Arctic Pudding
  • Battenbilge
  • Hampshire Buns
  • Speckled Cock
  • Drop Pie
fakedessert3
Battenbilge

  • Salmon Sponge
  • Vol-au-vol-au-vonts
  • Silly Pork Pies
  • Caramac Crackerjack
  • Crispy Splippits
fakedessert
Crispy Splippits

  • Moist Boys
  • Rounded Raisin Fancy Balls
  • Queen’s Park Trifle
  • Slippy Mistresses
  • Hartlepool Ham-Jam Pan Flan
fakedessert4
Moist Boys

  • Egg Flaps
  • Fat Scamps
  • Sir Milton’s Fingers
  • Downton Cake
  • Made-Up Mess
fakedessert
Downton Cake

I cannot wait to see this year’s contestants make these! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat a whole plate of Fat Scamps. Mmm — Delicious!


Today is Thursday, August 30th and as of this evening I’ve been in America for one full calendar year.

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