The Brief

So here’s the plan: bake, bake, bake.  The goal is become a better baker by baking every technical challenge from the Great British Bake Off and maybe when I’m good enough apply for the Great Canadian Baking Show! Think Julie and Julia but just baking.To understand why I would want to bake 63 obscure British recipes you need to know a little about me. I am a thirty-year-old wife, Mom to three cats -bordering on crazy cat lady status but not quite there yet- and I love to bake.  I have always been around baking.  My Grandma was an amazing home baker and my Mom continues to make amazingly delicious creations.  My first baking memory is of my Grandma, my sister and I making chocolate pudding popsicles.  While not really baking, it was a fun thing to do together and it showed me how you could take a bunch of different ingredients and make something sugary and delicious.  My memories continue from there with beautiful birthday cakes of princesses and hay rides that my Mom made for my sister and me.

I have been baking pretty regularly during my adult life.  I am slowly getting better but I still have lots to learn as evidenced by my brick-like cakes and occasional soggy bottoms (on my pastry, not me). Enter the Great British Bake Off!  My husband and I love watching cooking shows and we somehow stumbled upon the Great British Bake Off (or Great British Baking Show as PBS and Netflix call it).  I was immediately hooked. Watching normal people with charming accents bake for hours in the middle of a field in Britain.   What could be better? If you’re not familiar with the show each episode is themed and contestants complete three bakes related to the weekly theme. The signature bake is the first challenge.   Contestants are asked to bake a specific item, like a quick bread,  they use their own recipe and have had the chance to practice before coming on the show.  The episode ends with the showstopper, usually an over the top assignment, like make 36 filled doughnuts with two different doughs in 3 hours.  The showstopper usually involves a lot of stressed bakers spouting hilariously British sayings.  The middle of the episode is marked by the technical challenge. In the technical challenge, the bakers are given bare bones recipe picked by the judges, presumably to test an important skill associated with the theme of the week. The bakers have to draw on their baker’s intuition and sometimes luck to get things right. I wanted to try the technical challenges because they are a list of recipes that aren’t very common….sometimes bizarre  (I’m talking about you tennis cake)….that should teach me everything I could ever want to know about baking.

So if you’re still reading this long-winded intro I promise to show you my experience as I stumble through this weird list of recipes and hopefully learn something useful along the way.  But if all else fails it will be a year of sugar and butter and there is nothing wrong with that.