My baking career showed early promise. Between the ages of two and, ooh, about seven, my very favourite thing to do was to sit on the kitchen counter while my mum baked, spoon poised ready to help by scraping out the bowl once the cake mixture was in the oven. But, as is sometimes the way with precocious talent (ha!) that early spark of interest didn’t amount to anything.
One of my oldest friends still remembers the disastrous chocolate cornflake cakes I made in home economics. We must have been 14 or so, which is a very long time ago now, that’s how strongly the memory has been seared upon her brain. The chocolate was so poorly distributed that the cakes not only looked rubbish, they fell apart, I’m sure they tasted rubbish too, I can’t remember. Even Mary Berry, who always manages to find something nice to say about everything, would have been hard pressed to find a positive spin on my take on chocolate conflake cakes.
Given the situation now I would probably call them deconstructed chocolate cornflake cakes and throw edible glitter at the problem, I mean, seriously, who messes up chocolate cornflake cakes?! I’m just looking recipes for chocolate conflake cakes online now, they’re all rated somewhere between easy and simple and an excellent thing to do with one’s children. And by children they mean four year olds, not 14 years olds.
And so that was it, my career in baking was over before it had even begun and I’ve never so much as attempted to bake a cake ever since, which just makes my love for the Great British Bake Off all the more surprising. I mean I properly love it. I save it up to watch on the weekend, avoiding spoilers with a social media blackout and by covering my ears every time I hear someone having a conversation that might result in a premature reveal of the week’s Star Baker, or worse, who left the tent. I’m already feeling sad about the imminent ending of this season. How I am going to cope between now and next August without my weekly fix of baking and innuendo? There should be a support group.
So why do I love it so much? It’s a combination of things. I love to watch people doing stuff that I could never even imagine attempting (these people don’t just make bread, they make bread lions for goodness sake). I love the easy camaraderie between the judges, the presenters and the contestants, and how much everyone seems to genuinely like each other. I love that it’s a show where it’s cool to try hard, to really want to win, to want to win so much that contestants regularly burst into tears, but not in an annoying X Factor kind of way.
Which brings me to who the flip is going to be this season’s winner. I’ve never been more on the fence about who I think’s going to win or indeed who I want to win. It looked like Ian was going to be the one to catch, winning Star Baker three weeks in a row, but then a succession of wobbles and it’s wide open. Obviously I’m a big fan of Tamal but if recent shows are anything to go by the smart money’s on Nadiya, especially after that show stopping chocolate week peacock. Immense. Talking of money, have you heard about the betting scandal that’s rocking the show? Apparently so much money was put on one contestant to win in a short space of time that suspicions were aroused that there was a leak from the set and at least one bookie closed their books. Still in a little over 12 hours (unless I save up the show for the weekend) we’ll know. Have you been watching this season? Who do you want to win? Who do you think will win? Favourite baker of the season? Favourite bake of the season? So many questions. Do comment, as ever, below. And if you’re in the mood to get your bake on, I can confirm that this Victoria Sponge is delicious.