food & drink

GBBO makes a much anticipated return to TV

BAFTA award-winning The Great British Bake Off makes its debut on BBC One tonight (Wednesday 6th August).

BAFTA award-winning The Great British Bake Off makes its debut on BBC One tonight (Wednesday 6th August). The baking show had humble beginnings on BBC Two but its surge in popularity has secures its move to the corporation’s flagship channel.

I am- along with practically everyone I know- completely obsessed with it, but what is the Great British Bake Off’s secret recipe for success?

Quintessentially British

Baking shows as a whole appeal to our sense of national pride. As we sit screaming at the TV as a careless contestant forgets to turn the oven off, we feel at one with the rest of the country. It’s a common ground, if you will.

As the name would suggest, this show is so British. Beautifully captured images of sheep grazing England’s green pastures paired with the Union Jack bunting hanging proudly around the tent have elevated the show to national treasure status.

Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have electric chemistry, teasing each other back and forth. Of course, the blue-eyed bread maker and Queen of Cakes are not the only double act: Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are British icons in themselves and offer razor-sharp commentary as soon as baking commences, announced by the two of them screeching “On your marks, get set…bake!”, which will never not be funny.

Not to mention their downright hilarious endless stream of cake buns – sorry, puns.

Series 4: Will it rise to the occasion?

Things can only get better for the Great British Bake Off as it makes its move to BBC One. Bagging the elusive mid-week 8pm spot is testament to the show’s popularity. The quaint, sweet, almost unknown show has hit the big time.

BBC Two will still get a piece of the action though with a spin-off show, An Extra Slice, featuring on the channel each Friday at 9pm. Fronted by funny woman Jo Brand, it promises news, gossip and unseen footage.

Previews so far have shown a great series. The rumoured Strictly-style makeover teamed with such a winning formula means there is not much that could go wrong.

This year looks to be more diverse than ever, with contestants including a Mumbai fashion designer and a baking builder. Entering the record books this series are Diana, 69, and 17-year-old Martha, the oldest and youngest bakers to appear on the show since it burst onto our screens in 2010.

Mary Berry was this week quoted as saying: “This is definitely the best series so far,” so we can live in hope that the show will be as full of drama as it has been in previous years.

We Brits love watching other people make mistakes on TV, knowing that we’d probably be the exact same ourselves. You don’t have to be the biggest baking fan to enjoy this show, as at times it has the makings of a serial drama.

Think nearly poisoning Paul and Mary with salt-laced rum babas (2010’s eventual winner John Whaite) or the infamous ‘Custardgate’, where poor Howard suffered a custard mugging at the hands of ruthless Deborah (2013). What a scandal.

So, if you have previously given the show a miss, tune in this year! You’ll be in good company. William and Catherine, David Cameron and Clare Balding are all fans. If it’s good enough for Kate…

Maybe it’s the quick-witted observation of Mel and Sue. Maybe it’s the anticipation of staring at twelve ovens guessing who’s going to end up with a soggy bottom. Maybe it is just Paul Hollywood alone, but there is something about the Great British Bake Off that is as moreish as the delights it serves up.


From Alex Goode, Food & Drink Editor

While we’re on the subject, here’s a recipe for easy classic lemon bars, adapted from this traditional recipe. We spend a lot of time these days creating chocolate-peanut-butter-seven-layer marshmallow-meringue-glitter-covered-cakes, and other ridiculous things, that we forget the very basics. So, here’s a classic recipe to keep you going.


200g plain flour

75g icing sugar

175g softened butter

3 eggs

250g caster sugar

3 tablespoons plain flour

6-7 tablespoons lemon juice (around 2 big lemons)


1. Preheat oven to gas mark 5 and grease a rectangular pan, around 25 x 33 cm.

2. Combine the flour, icing sugar and butter in a mixer (or by hand if you’re feeling like Hercules) until it comes together into a dough.

3. Press the dough into the buttered pan and smooth out with fingertips. None of this rolling out malarky, just make sure it’s in the corners.

4. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top – it only took about 10 minutes in my oven.

5. Whisk together the eggs, caster sugar, flour and lemon juice and pour straight over the hot base.

6. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.

7. Cool in the tray and cut into slices – the pastry will be firm and the lemon layer a bit gooey in the middle!

Have your say on GBBO in the comments section below!

Photo credit: BBC