photography by PHUONG NGUYEN
Guys, we need to talk. Specifically about a British baking show phenomenon known as The Great British Bake Off. It is the greatest show of all time.
It is the epitome of all that is good and right and true and kind in this world, which is no small feat in these turbulent times. It’s basically the closest thing we have to TV’s happy pill—it’s impossible to feel bad watching GBBO.
When asking strangers about their thoughts on the show, I received only rave reviews, like “literally perfect” or “charming." The show has been on the air for seven years, but the public is still abuzz. In the U.K. alone, more than 10 million viewers watched the first episode of the seventh season—nearly half of all the television-owning households.
In case you’ve never had the pleasure of stumbling upon the show, IMDB synthesizes the show as: “Bakers attempt three challenges each week trying to impress the judges enough to go through to the next round and eventually are crowned Britain's best amateur baker.”
But it’s so much more.
Of course, it’s a competition, but not in the sense that Americans are used to on a competitive cooking show. You won't find any producer hijinks or competitor drama; these very British contestants are here to bake, goshdarnit, and that’s it. Oh, and be their charming British selves—each season’s cast of characters is really something special (for example, this season’s contestant Val listens to her bakes, and does aerobics while in the kitchen). The refreshing camaraderie is really what's unique though. The contestants root for and help each other, often assisting one another in finishing a dessert in a tight timeline.
There are two hosts and two judges, and they are reason enough to tune in. In fact, it's shocking that we got this far without mentioning Mary Berry. That’s not okay. Mary is the sassy/sweet, charismatic British grandmother you always wanted. She has that special skillset of saying biting commentary while still being kind—British passive aggressiveness at its best. She is a national treasure and Great Britain is so lucky to have her, and there should be a bronzed statue of her in every town center in England.
Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are the two perfectly imperfect, comedic hosts. Together they create the best (worst?) dad jokes and clever baking puns that you need in your life. (Fun fact: They've actually been friends for nearly 30 years.)
Oh, and Paul Hollywood is there too, I guess. Paul seems to be the butt of all of Mel and Sue’s jokes and it’s just too kismetic, because he’s charming, but charmingly rude. Paul and Mary are the ultimate salty-sweet combo.
(Yes, there has been a lot of news and changes recently, but I refuse to acknowledge the latest drama and change of hosts. But for those not in denial, the DailyMail has the gossip: “In September 2016, midway through the show's seventh series, it was announced that this series would be the last to air on the BBC, after rival broadcaster Channel 4 "poached" the series. The day after the announcement, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins announced they would not move to Channel 4 with the show, and would be stepping down.”)
Just watch GBBO, you’ll feel all the feels, and it’ll bring out the kindness and best in you. The newest season seven is airing now on PBS, a new episode every Friday (for us Americans, anyway. This is old news for the British, their season aired in October 2016). Oh, and if you keep seeing the show being referred to as The Great British Baking Show, it’s due to the fact that Pillsbury owns a trademark on the term “bake-off” in the States.
Let’s take more than a few moments to admire the pure culinary magnificence of a few classic GBBO-tested desserts:
photography by Super Golden Bakes
A British classic, the Victoria Sponge is the “queen of cakes.” Do Mary Berry proud and make this gorgeous version.
photography by The Floured Kitchen
A Good Friday staple in England, Hot Cross Buns are a spiced sweet bread (and a catchy nursery rhyme!).
photography by Gourmet Traveller
Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, broken meringue, and whipped heavy cream. But the bigger question here is: Why doesn't this exist in America?
photography by Bake With Shivesh
The Banoffee Pie (made with bananas, cream, and toffee) was clearly devised by baby angels in heaven called, and I need it immediately.
Are you also a GBBO’er? Am I way off the mark with my indifference to Paul Hollywood? Do you want to just talk about Mary Berry (me too!)? Tell me everything in the comments, fellow fans.