The Great British Baking Show – Pumpkin Edition

Great British Bake Off

While a big chunk of the country has been riveted to the Olympics, I am obsessed with The Great British Baking Show (also known as The Great British Bake Off).  The final episode was a little over a week ago and I am sad to see it gone for another year.

We recently upgraded our cable tv package because we needed more election coverage and with the new baby it became easier to watch tv than to leave the house. Our old cable package did not have the Food Network but it seems like they are still running the same shows that we were watching two years ago.   I’m just not sure if I’m watching reruns or if the shows are “new” but follow the same exact formula as the old shows.

We gave Cupcake Wars another try and found out that we still hate it.  When Food Network first started advertising the show I was super excited but I was also quickly disappointed.  The contestants and the judges are consistently unlikeable and the format of the show is annoying.  The contestants are aggressively confident which only serves to highlight that this is a show about baking CUPCAKES and nothing earth shattering.  I don’t need every show to be NOVA but I want to be told an interesting story or I want to have learned a little something.  Cupcake Wars tells the exact same story every freaking time:  a cupcake store owner REALLY NEEDS the $5000 to expand their business and they also happen to make THE BEST CUPCAKES IN THE WORLD!

The actual cupcake baking part of the show is a hot freaking mess.  I don’t really care if they can bake a cupcake in 5 minutes.  The focus on speed means that the viewer never really gets to see any technique or learn helpful tricks.  As a viewer we just see people panicking and running around the kitchen. Also the “surprise” of giving people tricky ingredients that have to be incorporated into the flavor of the cupcake is SOO OVERPLAYED.

The Great British Baking Show is the polar opposite of Cupcake Wars: the contestants are likeable and humble; judging is on skill, knowledge, and flavors; contestants help each other; the judges are respectful; and it’s simply a good watch. The show is sweet and you end up wondering if maybe the world isn’t such a horrible place after all .  I also end up feeling like I learned a little something.  It is a show where ALL the contestants end up being your favorite because no one ever says “I’m here to win! Not make friends” and none of them think that they are going to “win it all.”  How is everyone so damn likeable?   The show is filmed in a giant tent on Mr. Darcy’s estate (not really but possibly)  with windows that look out on to an amazing garden.  Often times you can see it raining through the windows.  What is better in life than baking delicious treats while it’s pouring rain outside . . . maybe baking delicious treats with your friends while it is raining outside and it feels like every contestant could be your new best friend.

When was the last time you watched a reality show and the producers weren’t trying to make the show something other than a mirror of “reality”?  Maybe season 1 of the Real World?  The show doesn’t put on airs.  It just is what it is: a show about baking and not about “man’s inhumanity to man.” This attitude is also reflected in the prize.  There is no prize other than a nice looking cake stand that says “the Great British Bake Off.”  It doesn’t event say “WINNER of the Great British Bake Off.” As an added bonus there is a strict NO ADVERTISING rule.  You don’t know what brand anything is—not even the oven or the fridge.

And the final reason to watch the show is for the adorable “Rachel Maddowesque” host because all the best tv shows have lesbians in them.

The only thing wrong with this show is that there isn’t enough pumpkin used.  I could only find 3 recipes that use pumpkin at all:

Even if you think that you’ve seen it all, in terms of reality and cooking shows, the Great British Baking Show is a breath of a quaint British garden’s fresh air.

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