by Amélia Ávila (’24) | November 16, 2020
There are three things that make everyone happy during this chaotic time—food, TV, and Netflix. So during election err.. week, I needed something besides CNN to watch. Of course, I turned to the Great British Baking Show (GBBO), a favorite show of mine. If you’re a fan of British accents, cheesy jokes, and food in general, then this is the show for you! Found on Netflix, GBBO currently has 11 seasons, the latest of which premiered on September 22 in the UK, and a week later on Netflix everywhere. It takes place in a large tent in the beautiful outdoors of England.
One of my favorite things about GBBO is that it remains exciting without being overdramatic like Cake Wars. It has a calmer pace but still has “action” to keep you awake. There are about 12 contestants, each from different regions of the UK, and instead of baking just one thing like in Cake Wars, they bake multiple types of goods—savory and sweet. Each week has a different theme; for example: bread week, biscuit week, and even Japanese week!
This season, celebrity baker Paul Hollywood judges along with Prue Leith, a novelist, cookbook author, baker, and also a university chancellor! The hosts are Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas, replacing Mel Giedroyc, Sandi Toksvig, and Sue Perkins from the previous season. Now for the contestants this season: Sura, David, Rowan, Hermine, Peter, Laura, Mark, Linda, Marc, Loriea, Mak, and Lottie. My favorites are Sura, Rowan, Hermine, Peter…okay, basically everyone!
Each episode of Bake Off consists of three rounds: the signature challenge, the technical challenge, and the showstopper. In the signature, the judges disclose the dish to the contestants, allowing them to plan and bring material from home. This challenge usually goes smoothly as the preparation alleviates stress from the participants. However, in the technical, bakers are given a surprise; the ingredients are concealed in a blue and white cloth before the hosts announce the challenge. This “gingham-covered mystery” is a recipe written by either Paul or Prue. This is the most brutal round of GBBO: every time the host announces the technical dish (oftentimes something uncommon like smørrebrød), echoes of “What the bloody heck is that?” and “I’ve never heard that one before” ring throughout the tent. After the contestants finish baking, Paul and Prue blindly judge the end products. Even though the creator of each dish should be anonymous, one look at each contestant’s concerned face gives it away. The last round is a bit more relaxed: the showstopper is not a surprise, so bakers have time to practice for it. As the biggest challenge, this final product has many decadent garnishes, like the iconic “sponge,” chocolate decor, meringue, fruit, or biscuits. After being judged over the whole week, one baker wins the title “Star Baker,” while another, sadly, has to go home to their “Nan” and “Mum.”
If this exhilarating plot interests you, I highly recommend binging Season 11 of GBBO, and even trying to bake some of the recipes at home. As Noel would say, “On your mark, get set, BAKE!”
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