The Fabulous Baking Boys…

After a couple of weeks of travelling, this weekend I have curled my exhausted body up on the couch and caught up with some of my fave telly. This has included a dip into The Best of Saturday Kitchen – with Tom Kitchin making an amazing mallard and cabbage roll and James Martin pulling together a mouth-watering monkfish curry, all in the time it took me to have a couple of crumpets with peanut butter and a coffee. 

But I digress – easy to do when there’s food involved.

The piece d’resistance of my comfy couch-based catch-up has been the quarter- and semi-finals of my favourite bastion of Britishness, The Great British Bake-Off.

Clever clogs: one of the contestants this series actually made this
(For the life of me I cannot remember who…sorry!)

I LOVE this show. There is something so quintessentially British about a bunch of baking boffins wielding their spatulas and icing bags in a big white tent in the middle of the English countryside. Having had a little go at baking myself, I can completely appreciate how skilled, clever and brave these men and women are, much more so than me. 

While I have, quite literally, not been in a position to experience the flavours and textures of scrumptious scones, donuts and petit fours, watching the critique from GBBO duo Mary Berry (great baking surname) and Paul Hollywood (super showbiz moniker) brings a smile to my dial every time. The contestants’ trials and tribulations also make for many highs and lows in the baking rollercoaster. In the meantime, hosts Mel and Sue meander around the marquee revealing the human side of baking, providing words of encouragement, shoulders to cry on and a ‘Mel and Sue’ sandwich for each week’s evicted baker.

L to R: Sue, Mary, Paul and Mel

After last year’s all female final, this series has been ambushed by the men and Tuesday’s Final will see Brendan, James and John battle it out for line honours. It has been a generational joust with the experience and exactitude of Brendan’s years going head to head each week with 21 year old James’ experimentation with form and flavour. And John – well 22 year old John has ridden the rollercoaster in between the two, producing both the awe-inspiring (like his gingerbread Colosseum in the quarter-final) and occasionally abysmal. He has also been the source of the greatest drama with a bloody injury mid-series saving all bakers from the usual weekly eviction (only for them all to face a double eviction the following week). I always knew puddings were not for the faint-hearted.

L to R: Finalists John, James and Brendan await news of their fate with Semi Final evictee, Danny

So on Tuesday we will see the back end of this season’s BBC baking bonanza and after a joyful – and delightfully pastel coloured – romp through cakes, breads, biscuits and pastries, one of GBBO’s fabulous baking boys will wear the crown. And it’s really anyone’s race – any one of these runners could snatch the winning bake by a nose. So I’m not sure who to put my money on.

What a shame it’s too late for a trifecta.

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