Monday, 27 August 2012

The Great British Bake Off - book review - meet the judges

The Great British Bake Off hit our screens for a third series last week but one...episode three is this Tuesday...and if like me you love to bake at home, you will be gripped to the TV screen once more. There are lots of things I like about this show, but I love the way the format has not really changed much at all...12 hopeful bakers all with their eye on being crowned the country's best home baker...and the prize...(if last years anything to go by a really weird looking trophy made of beaters, cutters and plastic eggs set inside an upturned goldfish bowl)...well its the taking part that counts not the prize...right?

And the rest of the format hasn't changed either, we have the lovely Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry as judges and the show is fronted by the 'Ant and Dec of the baking fraternity' Sue Perkins and Mel Gieldroyc who's antics are quite humorous at times. I hope the BBC don't ever change this format because it works and I just love it the way it is, there is a bit of tension and drama (and a lot of praying on the floor and at the foot of integral ovens) but not too much to be over bearing.

With the third series comes a new book to accompany it...'The Great British Bakeoff - how to turn everyday bakes into show stoppers', EBury the publishers for BBC books have very kindly sent me two copies one for me and one for my Macmillan Cancer coffee morning recipe book sale; and I was lucky enough this weekend to be invited to go along to the Bolton Food and Drink Festival and watch, meet and interview Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. 
This third book is the best so far for me because like the TV series itself the books have got more interesting and the recipes more challenging. This latest book comprises a mixture of new recipes from Linda Collister (the author) and recipes from show stopping challenges, inspired from the show, alongside information about the contestants and some of their best recipes from the series (if I tell you what they are it'll give the game away, but the 'blackbirds baked in a pie cake' recipe is in!), this book is a good combination, the photos are great and there is lots to interest home bakers here.

Paul Hollywood gave a demonstration this weekend in Bolton of a recipe from his own 'How to Bake', book (its part bread and part baking) for flatbread with stilton and grapes, and Mary Berry joined him on stage. Paul also demonstrated his now infamous 8 strand plaited loaf (that was the challenge for the bakers last week) and how to make a cottage loaf. The demonstration was full of humour and banter that had the audience enthralled. Coming from a baking heritage (his father was and brother is a baker) Paul made bread making look pretty easy to me, but I loved the combinations for this flatbread recipe and now I have his book I'll be having a go myself. 
Paul and Mary gave an honest account of how they critique the bakes each week on the show. The contestants have 6 weeks to practice the various baking challenges (like bagels last week) and for the technical challenge (of the judges choosing) they get no prior warning. In fact Paul confessed he often watched behind the scenes to see the expressions on the contestants faces as the challenge is revealed to them. Paul's philosophy on judging is that if you don't give honest criticism then people cannot have the chance to improve and might keep on baking things that are not that good. Mary believes you don't need lots of gadgets to be able to bake at here to that! I have every gadget possible here and very few have actually improved my baking but practice and stretching my imagination certainly has, and thats just what this programme does.

I asked both judges are they ever able to accurately guess at the start for the series who may go on to win at the end? They both said they have never been able to as the show requires each baker to have such a wide range of skills and the bakers themselves develop so much week by week. You can read more about the Bolton Food and Drink Festival and this interview with the judges at Dolly Bakes.

At the end of all this I can testify to a few things...the Great British Bake off is a fab TV programme if you love to bake...the book that goes with this series is the best of the three so far...Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are both genuinely nice...EBury Publishers are very kind to send me a couple of copies of the book to help raise money for Macmillan Cancer...and to the amazement of everyone Mel Gieldroyc has turned into a faun in this new series!!
Bolton Council invited me to go along to the Food Festival this weekend to meet Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. My thanks go to them and EBury for donating this book.  I was able to get my book signed by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, and this will be open to bids to rise money for Macmillan Cancer as part of my coffee morning event. 


  1. Yay Sue, you are a star. Your coffee morning is bound to go with a swing now - I suppose you couldn't persuade the GBBO pair to come along to that?

  2. Oh Sue, you lucky so and so! Bolton is sounding more and more apealing and good luck with the coffee morning.

  3. I love GBBO! Paul and Mary make the perfect judges. Good luck with your coffee morning :-)


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Susan x