I’m weak! I couldn’t resist. After the Great British Bake Off kicked off its fourth season a few weeks ago, I had a real Bake Off relapse. Seriously there is no nicer way to kick off a gloomy rainy Autumn than the light-hearted baking competition. Moreso now that the gloomy rainy Autumn has finally arrived. It’s like passive binge eating.
BY THE WAY THERE ARE SPOILERS NEAR THE END, BE WARNED.
So after a look on Wikipedia I found that in the last year, the Bake Off franchise has been spun off in 13 different countries from the USA to Ukraine. How tempting, I can’t imagine what sort of weird cakes, pastries and breads they might make in some of those places.
This discovery was quickly followed by another, that the Great Australian Bake Off was available to watch on YouTube. 8 episodes later and I’m done. I really enjoyed the series, the format transferred almost completely from the British original, with amateur bakers competing in a marquee in a big country house. But it’s instilled with a carefree Aussie charm, from the raucous theme tune to the pop music soundbeds.
The three rounds in each episode remained the same: The signature bake allows the bakers to apply their own touch to classic recipes; the technical bake gives the bakers the same recipe to follow, often relies on acquired knowledge and is blind-judged; and the showstopper bake allows imaginations to run wild and create some sensational set-pieces.
It’s presided over by another good cop-bad cop pair, this time with Mrs Mangel-a-like Kerry Vincent’s wry humour and stern judgements contrasting with friendly but cutting Dan Lepard. Nobody got an easy ride, though I suspect Dan had his favourites.
Anyway I love watching cooking shows, and Bake Off really is the pinnacle. Gentle viewing with the usual dusting of drama when someone drops or burns something (it’s better than it sounds). I just love seeing the creations they come out with, some of them are really dazzling, and light years away from the pretentious nouveau cuisine bullshit that we see on Masterchef.
I was surprised but really pleased to see Nancy win the series, she was always a joy to watch and never got too wrapped up in the emotional drama. Certainly I didn’t really warm to Jonathan, a super-competitive technician who seemed to get rather unflattering edits that made him sound like he had a bit of an attitude problem. I didn’t need to think his stuff looked good, he seemed to think it was all great and bristled at criticism.
Maria I thought was probably a shoo-in, producing endlessly beautiful cakes, breads and pastries. She’ll go far if she wants to pursue her passion as a career I think. I have to put in a mention for buoyant Monique though, the scrappy ex-international basketball player. She was a bit rough and ready with some of her bakes, and seemed a bit cavalier at the wrong moment in the semi-final, but she was a lot of fun to watch.
Now should I carry on with the 1 episode per week dose of British Bake Off, or shall I start watching another one too? I’m interested in the US one. And the Swedish one. And the Ukrainian one… it’s going to be a long autumn I think.