Most afternoons, I walk 45 minutes on my treadmill and watch programs on Netflix or Amazon Prime as Izzie lies on the bed looking out the window. Lately, I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix while I walk. The show is entertaining, and hopefully, I’m learning a few new baking skills.
The show features a British baking competition with judges, Mary Berry, a cookbook writer, and Paul Hollywood, a professional baker, and presented by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins. In Great Britain, it’s known as The Great British Bake Off. In the U.S., Pillsbury owns the Bake-Off trademark, so the name was changed to allow viewing here in the states.
The series is in its 8th season in Great Britain. Netflix and PBS only carry what they refer to as seasons 1, 2, and 3 of The Great British Baking Show which actually are seasons 4, 5, and 6 of The Great British Bake Off. I haven’t figured out where I can watch the 1st 3 seasons of the Bake Off show that aren’t offered on Netflix or PBS. If you find them somewhere, please let me know.
Amateur bakers are challenged each week with a different baking skill such as breads, cakes, and pastries. With names like Mokatines, Flaounas, or Arlettes, I quite often don’t have a clue what they’re baking till it’s done. They have 3 opportunities to exhibit their baking talent for that particular skill. The Signature Bake calls upon the bakers’ creativity and personality as they make their home-made creations. For the Technical Bake, they all bake the same product. The recipe they’re given does not provide detailed instructions, and if they’re not familiar with the baked good, their results can be a bit off. The 3rd test is the Showstopper Bake where their creations are more complex and elaborate and must be presented with a professional flair. Following the 3 baking challenges each week, one baker is named Star Baker, and one baker is sent home. The last 3 contestants in the contest bake off in the final show when the UK’s Best Amateur Baker is crowned and awarded an engraved cake plate.
The contestants are competitive in a very polite way. Unlike other TV contests, there’s no drama between the contestants or the judges on The Great British Baking Show. In fact, you occasionally see one baker helping another to prevent a crisis. The presenters, Mel and Sue, add comedic relief and offer support to the contestants. The judges, Mary and Paul, are smart and witty and provide criticism that is always positive and never snarky.
The baked goods look luscious and mouthwatering, and many of them seem to be quite complex to bake while others may be doable in my amateur kitchen. There are a few recipes that I may try out like the soda bread or baklava (with store bought puff pastry, not homemade) or one of the simpler cakes. I also would like to learn how to pipe icing and create the decorative edible ornaments used on many of their creations.
So, if you’re walking on your treadmill or riding a stationary bike and need a distraction, I highly recommend The Great British Baking Show. You’ll be thoroughly entertained and may even pick up a baking tip or two.