‘The Great British Bake Off' is a huge hit. Photo: Nadya Spetnitskaya

The simple joy of baking

‘The Great British Bake Off’ is one of my favourite shows and even Mr T got hooked. 

Each week the contestants are put through their paces with a signature, technical and showstopper challenge on a different topic. The first week was biscuit week and last week we enjoyed creations around bread.

I was asked a few times to apply to take part (some friends think I am an excellent baker) but to be honest, it is a different way of baking if you are under time pressure in a kitchen where several ovens are running at the same time, overhead lights are adding to the heat and you have some funny comedians walking around. You are also getting judged by some of the world’s best bakers and cookery teachers.

Some amazing bakers have emerged from the show and gone on to great careers in baking with my personal favourite being Frances Quinn, winner of 2013 who was – in my humble opinion – one of the most creative bakers. She wrote a baking book which is part of my collection.

Apart from 2016 winner Candice Brown, every winner of the show has either published their own cookbook or writes a column for a newspaper (Candice opened a restaurant instead).

The first winner of the show was a man named Edward Kimber and he was followed by three more male winners with last year’s winner being David Atherton.

I love the show as there is no fake meltdown other than collapsed souffles, soggy bottoms or someone knocking over a tray of upside down pineapple cakes (as happened two weeks ago).

When watching the show, you can’t help but feel for the bakers and any disaster you feel the pain as well.

My friend Agnes and I text each other throughout the show commenting on each contestant – although her son is butting in now as well and texting her (I am not amused). We don’t always agree with the judge’s elimination decisions but so far, shouting at the telly has had no impact at all!

Head judge Paul Hollywood has been with the show from the start and stayed when the show moved to Channel 4. I was worried that the new channel will destroy the show as the Irish version was.

‘The Irish Bake Off’ only consisted of two challenges due to commercial breaks and it took too much from the show. Thankfully, Channel 4 kept the original format and extended the time to allow for breaks. The show lost a few viewers since moving but 9.2 million viewers (down from 13.8 in 2016) is nothing to sneer about.

For the last numbers of years, Agnes baked something to match the week’s subject and I started to do it this year as well - you can see my creations each week on Facebook/Instagram (Bia Sásta).

The show also produced cookbooks for each season and the latest one will be released on 15 October. So far, I haven’t bought any yet but might put it on my list for the big day in December.