The Cake and Bake Show? Put simply – it rocked!
Rows upon rows of unnecessary plastic objects that normally I wouldn’t give a second look at now seemed to make perfect sense- if only they were in my kitchen. Oh, how you tempt me! And the crowds? Who’d ever have thought baking was so popular? Walking amongst the crowds I overhead perfectly unassuming people talk in fluent expertise about baking, and sugar crafting. It’s was like walking through Hogwarts- but with a higher calorie count. I was happier than a pig in buttercream. Irony of ironies my “goody bag” contained a box of Betty Crocker cupcake mix!
I had the pleasure of sitting in on a session with Monsieur Eric Lanlard, pâtissier de force. Working with Delicious magazine editor Lizzie Kamenetzky they gave some valued tips and tricks while rustling up a pecan pie to die for. I gotta’ get me some of that industrial strength “cookable” clingfilm. I will however endeavour to avoid the fate of my mother. Whilst blind baking tarts one day she decided to use cling wrap. All warnings were met with mumbled protestations of “sure it’ll be grand“…only to serve up a somewhat chewy apple tart shrouded in a rather caustic, acrid haze. I learned much of what to do in a kitchen from my mother, in fact I completely credit her for my culinary aptitude, but let’s be honest- I also learned a lot of what not to do.
The piéce de resistance came with meeting the guys from The Great British Bakeoff on Sunday. What a bunch of lovely people they were too! Talented, amiable and brimming with enthusiasm so much so it was impossible not to like them. Waves of people swarmed to have photos taken and brochures signed by them. They happily obliged with neither a complaint nor hesitation. I remember at one point the look of acute anguish on one of their faces as a girl stopped them in their tracks for an autograph- without a pen! Eventually one was found and the autograph signed…and still the baker smiled on.
Spending time with them it was easy to see how a show like GBBO has been taken to the nation’s heart (and further afield with GABO and GIBO). In a world bloated with boil in the bag talent shows, Bezza and co. provide us much welcome relief. This is empathy TV. It’s hard not to feel for these guys as they stare earnestly into the amber glow of the oven that can decide their fate. These aren’t people reeking of ignorant ambition. They’ve made it already in the world – teacher, psychologist, landscaper to name a few. All of them valid and credible careers. They stand there very real, very different and very talented each in their own right.
Meeting the guys made me realise that there’s no “black art” to baking. Sure you’ve got recipes and measurements, and the need to be exacting. But at the centre of it all there’s a passion. That steady heartbeat that’s there at the end of the day when you get home. No matter what your line of work, not matter what crap has gone down, no matter where you are, there’s that instinct that makes you want to get those bowls out, and frost that cupcake, knead that dough or bake that cake. That’s what the show has tapped into and that’s what these men and women show us every week. So Team GBBO whether you’re in, whether you’re out, whether you’re about to be eliminated or whether you’re the winner- I salute you.
My mother (when she wasn’t trying to gas us with plastic fumes) baked. She baked A LOT. The woman is responsible for my introduction to Mary Berry, as well as my abhorrence for Queen of Puddings. It’s from her I picked up that passion, to feel that heartbeat in the kitchen. Knowing when cream is on the cusp of curdling, or adding that “bit for the chef”- subtleties that are felt more than taught, glimmers at the corner of the eye. This post is dedicated to my Mum. It’s been a long time coming but without her I wouldn’t know a rolling pin from a sledge hammer. Without her there’d definitely be no Mr. Mom’s.
*Many thanks to Glenn for the photograph and introducing me to everyone at the show.
And now my thoughts turn to upcoming events- our son’s birthday and Halloween. Our first with the kids so who knows what’s in store? But one thing is for certain there’ll be cupcakes involved!
In the meantime, “Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”