Get set, Bake!

Hooray! The Great British Bake Off is back this week, which means it’s the return of our annual family baking challenge. We tested the format out last year and it proved to be a lot of calorific fun, so we’re bringing it back for a re-run and I highly recommend giving it a go.

One of the best things about living apart from my husband is that there are no longer any arguments about what we watch on TV. Occassionally we share an obsession over a show and like to binge watch it together, this can create tension when you are living in different time zones with different release dates and programme availability. With neither of us trusting the other one not to spoil the plot. However, more often than not our tastes and TV viewing hours vary wildly. I don’t watch that much, and if I do it has to be something that is going to keep me awake and entertained for the brief 30 minute window between finishing my chores for the day and crashing out. If something starts after 9pm or will mean I have to stay up past ten, I’m out. He, however, will happily binge watch into the wee small hours and still be able to get up and function as a human being the next day. We are compatible in many ways, but our viewing habits are not one of them. There are some things that he refuses to get on board with that I look forward to each year with the anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve. Strictly Come Dancing is one of them, a glittery countdown to the festive season that I like to become obsessed with. Another is the Great British Bake Off and whilst he is away living in another country with only Netflix for TV company, I have been wasting no time in getting our son to adopt my TV viewing habits.

To be fair, he has always loved the show and will often be found watching a cooking programme. He particularly loves Sugar Rush and Matilda and the Ramsay bunch, but the Bake Off is where it all began. He still talks about the time when the ‘Silver Fox’ himself, Mr. Paul Hollywood, gave him a thumbs up as he walked past our table at The Good Food Show in Glasgow when he was only four or five. I’m still a bit jealous of that even now.

Not only does the show inspire him to bake, but it’s also one of the few things we sit down and watch together especially as he enters the pre-teen era. Last year we decided to make the experience an immersive one and cook along with the contestants so we could test our creativity, baking skills and inherent greediness each week. It was brilliant fun, educational, delicious and became a bit of a bonding experience for us both as we got used to living without his Dad being around so much.

The premise is that each week we sit down to watch the show with a slice of something that we have been inspired to make from the theme of the previous episode. My son suggests a recipe idea, we research how to make it, buy the ingredients and bake our creation in time for the next round of fun in the Bake Off tent. It’s so lovely to do something together that we both enjoy and it has the added bonus of making the time pass more quickly whilst he’s waiting for his Dad’s next visit.

Every week he proudly sends him pictures of his creations, and if his next trip home happens to coincide with the seiries we might even save him a slice!

Last year’s triumphs (pictured below) included:

  • ‘Cow Pie’ for pastry week
  • Salted caramel fudge brownies for tray bake week
  • Smorrebrod for Danish week
  • Rosemary Focaccia for bread week
  • Chocolate and strawberry roulade for dessert week
  • Sticky ginger cake for spice week
  • Chocolate chip shortbread for biscuit week, and,
  • Profiteroles for the grand final
Our Signature Bake Off Creations for the 2018 season

My son was particularly delighted that we were away travelling during the Vegan challenge episode so we missed that week out. He may not be so lucky in 2019!

This year we have decided to kick off proceedings for the opening episode with a celebratory Malteser chocolate cake from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame’ in ‘Feast‘. I can hardly wait to sit down with a massive slice of it and a mug of tea, ready to watch this year’s contestants do battle in the tent of baking dreams. Bring it on. The dodgy puns, Noel’s crazy shirts, Paul’s dastardly flirting, the look on the judges faces when they have to taste something raw or truly disgusting. We’ll be loving every moment and posting pictures of our own creations as we go along. Before you know it, I’ll be a stone heavier and Strictly will be back on so our next weekly interrupted family TV obsession will begin. Suddenly the end of summer doesn’t seem like such a bad thing after all.

Interrupted Family Food for Thought

  • What can you do to share time with your family in a way that is both creative and fun?
  • Can you get all members of the family to take part in a challenge so that you’re doing/making something together each week that you can share and discuss from afar? A meal, a show, an art project – it doesn’t have to be good. In fact it’s probably more fun if it isn’t!
  • Follow a TV series together and go ‘old school’ by saving an episode for one day each week to countdown the time before you see each other again. In addition to Bake Off, we’re all currently working our way through Stranger Things, even though it scares me and my husband keeps skipping ahead of us!

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