Trying to explain to a friend who watches limited television and lives on a small island, about my love of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ has proved has difficult.
‘A group of people meet up in a tent and make cakes!’ I gushed.
‘And you watch them in the tent, making cakes?’ her bewildered tone floated across the ocean….
Where to begin? How to describe the slight lift to my spirits when Wednesday draws nearer and I get to lose myself in two hours of rising yeast, piped icing and fondant creations that make my mouth water and my pulse race.
I am in awe of the talent of the amateur bakers who nod sagely at words like blanch, caramelize, combine and crimp, while I am busy Googling what on earth they might mean.
From indulgent filled breads to dramatic scenes made with nothing more than biscuit dough and a couple of cocktail sticks, this season we have had it all.
Who knew such high drama could accompany such a supposedly genteel activity? There have been accusations of sabotage, no jokes, it’s still too soon to laugh over Bingate, tears over a tart and a dismissal from the tent over fondant that was, (I shall have to whisper) shop bought! Heavens above.
As if getting lost in golden syrupy sponges, swirls of Italian meringue and teetering towers of pork pie, wasn’t enough, there is also the added attraction of watching the personalities at work.
I get the impression that Luis, who’s determination to reach perfection and immense design skill, is the most competitive, but he manages to hide it behind his affable Mancunian humour and support of his fellow bakers. I expect to see his creations in every glossy cake magazine – he is a master.
Richard, ah Richard, such high hopes at the sight of his perfect savoury biscuits and nothing but admiration for his one-legged biscuit pirate, but recently? I think Richard has dropped the dough ball, maybe all that sugar work has gone to his head, he is definitely off his game – here’s hoping for a resurgence of his brilliance for next week.
As a well-known actress and very talented foodie said to me yesterday, ‘Martha is not a real person, she is fashioned from the pages of an Enid Blyton novel!’ and she is! If I had a daughter I’d want her to be just like Martha, clever, sweet, gorgeous and just right the amount of funny. If she were a bake, she’d be strawberry shortcake. I LOVE that she giggles ‘I have no idea what this is supposed to look or taste like!’ and then executes it to perfection!
Funky haired Kate is fab and fizzy, I love how her spine melts in both stressful and joyful moments and she flops down onto the nearest flat surface! Paul seems to be overly critical of her bakes, often unfairly. Her star baker accolade was overdue.
Chetna is a superb baker! In my view, often underrated in the praise department, her skill and inventive use of different flavours is exciting! (Plus I love her multi earring, hippy-chick look!) Chetna rocks!
My winner however and absolute favourite is Fancy Nancy. From day one she has shone as a ‘natural’ baker, her knowledge vast, her skill enviable and her results faultless. I want to visit Nancy’s kitchen and sit at the table with a cuppa and a slice of Victoria Sandwich.
For those of you who know my books, you will know that A Little Love – is set in a stunning bakery where cakes and love are closely linked. I don’t think it’s possible to bake or give a cake without love, all that time and effort poured into a unique, welcoming gift. Is there anything nicer?
So, yes, it is essentially a show where you watch people in a tent, making cakes, but anyone who has been seduced by the baking bug will know that it is so much more than that. Cakes are childhood memories, items of celebrations, treats and a wonderful way to eat communally with people you love.
Can’t wait for next week, which I shall watch with fascination and interest as these amateur bakers produce works of art. All this talk of cake has made me hungry, off to whip up a batch of cupcakes. With fondant decorations, homemade of course.