By Miss Pollyanna, 7th October 2015

The ‘Great British Bake Off’ Love Affair

And why it's Swiss Roll for our Souls

And why it’s Swiss Roll for our Souls

Another year. Another Great British Bake Off is nearly over. Apart from my prediction that Scottish Marie would win being totally wrong (which was just as well with all of the shock horror controversy the former Ritz Paris trained baker brought to the critics in heaped tablespoons), it has been the ultimate roller coaster of a reality TV ride; not least because for weeks on end, it has been impossible to rolling pinpoint (sorry, that had to be thrown into the cake mix!) a definitive winner.

And I think that’s because they are ALL winners.
For all my rustic baking prowess, you would never in a month of roast Sunday dinners find me sharing my culinary skills with the nation. I just don’t know how these guys do it! One thing is to stand in your own kitchen and attempt a three layered cheesecake (yes, even if you have artistically sketched it out on paper and practiced it over and over), but it is quite another to re-enact that for the cameras. With Paul Hollywood’s watchful blueberry muffin-hued glaze of a gaze thrown in for good measure.

We love this show so much because just for an hour it takes us some place else.
And no, not just to a tent with the echo of incessant rain drumming down on it in a quaint field in one of the posh English Shires. The GBBO takes us away from ourselves, our lives, our troubles, our dilemmas, our arguments, our mishaps, our lacks of self-esteem. The GBBO is a magical place for a millefeuille of reasons. The GBBO is as good as any therapist, Self-Help book or meditation session because…

1) GBBO celebrates failure.
The more majestically fantastical (think Dorret’s Black Forest meltdown… and equally impressive, Mary Berry accidentally letting the cat out the bag on Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show that Dorret would exit GBBO that very night… at least at that point she hadn’t spoiled it completely by telling us about her ‘offending’ Tracy Emin Bread Bed) the better! And Marie, who had the most amazing start to the show with her ‘perfect’ (Paul Hollywood’s words no less) Madeira Cake and a rather scrumptious Black Forest Gateau, proved that it’s all swings and roundabouts after she forgot to turn her oven on in Week 2 and spectacularly fell from grace and out of the tent!

2) GBBO says age is no barrier.

Just look at Mary Berry. Is it me, or does this beautiful lady get younger with every episode? Okay, I know she has her stylists, a bloomer of a bank balance too. But she is the epitome of graceful ageing, and a stellar example to all of us who constantly whine about the ticking hands of time that the number of candles on one’s red velvet triple decker of a birthday cake showstopper mean absolute nothing. But it’s not just Mary who sticks two fingers up to the media’s limitations on age; the show features its first teenage baker this year, Flora, whose sheer creative brilliance outshines most of our years of sieving, kneading and beurre blanc-ing away in the kitchen. Because when it comes to GBBO everyone is fair game. This is the ultimate show of inclusion and raw talent over looks (well, okay, only of the human cosmetic kind), money and celebrity connections…

3) GBBO encourages creativity.
I know it’s not just me who is now inclined to experiment with an iced tennis court on top of my next fruit cake escapade. We all are. Because doesn’t it look fun? And I am equally determined to prove to Paul that I can knock up a Flaounas worthy of a place at a Cypriot banquet. I am also hellbent on making a batch of macarons which will wipe the smug grin off Ian’s face… purely in the spirit of a little healthy competition. Of course.

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4) GBBO allows us to forget the bikini body syndrome.
bikini body
Sorry Jamie Oliver. We say life is for sugar! And cake is life. Sod the ridiculous notion of a size 8 YOU squeezing into a stringy two piece to parade along the sand for a week in Corfu. Having fun and enjoying our food without the emotional baggage is precisely what the Great British Bake Off is all about. Just look at Mary trialing umpteen pieces of cake, biscuit and pie per episode! When you love your food without those obsessively guilty I-really-ought-to-be-a-sheep-jumping-onto-the-clean-eating-band-wagon your body prospers. And if you think Mary is a ‘one-off’ perhaps you need to take another look at Nigella.

5) GBBO focuses our minds on positivity.
We’ve watched Alvin triumph by proving to us that less is more with his Pineapple Upside Down Cake. We’ve witnessed Flora’s victory with her Chocolate Vol au Vents. Ian’s Pomegranate and Molasses Creme Brulee was his usual (insert eye roll) perfection. Paul’s award winning recipes – just maybe not the rather pink-skinned lass in the bikini… if you could call it that… adorning his ‘Island Ice Cream Roll’ prove that stereotyping of the creative ability of a Prison Governer and former Coldstream Guard to HRH The Queen is as big a faux pas as the other Paul dishing out a Technical Challenge that’s impossible. The many faces of Nadiya make us giggle. Her baking is pretty awesome too (except for the occasional soggy bottom). Mat’s stained glass window on his Fire Engine Box was pure genius. Ugne’s Peanut Butter Ice cream proved that every negative (the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly Dairy Free Arctic Roll) has it’s positive. Tamal’s Frangipane Tart showed that it’s all about substance over style. Sandy’s Gin and Tonic inspired Madeira Loaf got us all excited. And we all wanted to give Stu the biggest hug for being the first to be booted out… ‘cos he’d tried so spectacularly… and reminded us so much of ourselves! Indeed what’s not to like about GBBO? How refreshing to be able to watch an hour of sheer kid-in-a-sweet-shop-cum-Hansel-and-Gretel drama every Wednesday night. Doesn’t it make you feel like dancing? All is well in the world. All is right. Cake and a cuppa solves 99.9% of the world’s problems.

6) GBBO because… Paul Hollywood

I’m not going to pretend Paul’s my idea of the ultimate Cherry Bakewell. He’s not. But… I can see the allure that he holds for so many. It’s the challenge of obtaining the silver fox of the culinary world’s cheeky grin. Will he or won’t he notice your soggy bottom? Will he critique your buns for not being quite pert enough? And will he almost tell you he could snog your Black Forest Gateau a la Greg Wallace?

7) GBBO because… Mel and Sue make us laugh

It’s the innuendos, the hilariously unhelpful advice to the contestants who just want to wallop them with their tea towels, hot and hopefully fluffy baguettes and creme pat encrusted spatula and tell them to ‘bog off!’ It’s the way they can get the type of cake, biscuit or bread that is currently in the oven into just about every sentence, paragraph, warning, notification and context over the course of 3 and a half hours during a showstopper challenge. It’s Mel. And it’s Sue. Bake Off just wouldn’t be Bake Off without them.

So there you have it. GBBO officially makes the world a better place. And according to the rumour mill… pretty soon the U.S!

As for who will be crowned winner, well, here are my own, Lady Lolita‘s and The Duchess‘s predictions from our Battenburg and Darjeeling tea fueled afternoon of chat on that magical day in August when the show began:

I think Marie will win. Not only does she have that authoritative Baking Queen look about her, but we are told she bakes every day. Now that has to be the ultimate in training when it comes to a show like GBBO… I mean she must have covered every recipe known to man...’, Miss Pollyanna. WRONG

I love Flora. I know the media say she has rubbed people up the wrong way already with her posh Scottish accent and her family Aga, but her food is fabulous! I would have her round for a dinner party anytime!’, The Duchess. WRONG

‘I think the gorgeous Tamal has what it takes to be a winner. His creations are amazing, his gentle-but-firm approach is beguiling and his smile is as sweet as his puds. I may be crap at baking, but I know a good cake (and man) when I see one!’, Lady Lolita. RIGHT

And now we know that the final contains Nadiya, Tamal and Ian, the question is ‘Who do we want to win?’

Here at The Glass House we’ll back Lady Lolita’s amazingly accurate predictions for King Tamal.

But what about our lovely readers? Who do YOU think should be crowned King or Queen of the Cupcakes (aka. a lucrative publishing/TV career?) Can this quintessentially British series mimic the success of Downton Abbey when it goes to America? Answers on the back of a recipe book…

What did you think?

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