It hardly seems possible that it’s 10 whole years since we were first introduced to Bake Off – and the sublime pleasures of watching the country’s best amateur bakers battle it out, very politely, in a tent.
Now that series 11 is done and dusted with the nation’s new favourite baker – angelic-faced Peter Sawkins – carrying off the title, the search is already on for the 2021 contestants. Hopefully the candidates won’t be subject to the same restrictions that this year’s dozen had to deal with in their six-week bubble – and fingers crossed they’ll be just as entertaining.
Now seems like an oven-ready moment to round up everything you need to know about the last 10 years of Bake Off.
Where did the original idea come from?
The whole concept of Bake Off came from Ann Beattie and Richard McKerrow who were inspired by a baking competition held at a village fete. Determined to make it happen, it took four years of pitching to TV channels until BBC2 agreed to commission it. The rest is history.
How do bakers qualify for the series?
When applying for a place on the show, would-be Star Bakers are first asked to describe their skills and experience. Once narrowed down by the show’s researchers, shortlisted applicants are invited to bring along two of their bakes to an audition and interview with a producer. Next, candidates have to bake on camera to check possible contestants are happy baking and talking. Then the final dozen are selected a few weeks before filming.
What’s the shopping bill for the series?
That’s a closely guarded secret – but it’s going to be high. William Hill did some research and discovered that in the final episodes alone, bakers have gotten through:
- 606 eggs
- 44,992 grams of flour
- 32,780 grams of butter
- 73,975 grams of sugar
Then there are all the other ingredients to take into account, including the chocolate for the ever-popular ganache and the fruit for the purees and jams. All in all it’s quite a shopping list.
Who gets to eat the cakes after judging?
They might not look so great after they’ve been picked apart and tasted by Paul and Prue, but the bakers’ efforts will still taste great – it’d be a crime to just bin them. Rest assured, they are shared out between the crew and the contestants. This is great in the first few weeks of the competition when there’s plenty to go around, but as more bakers are eliminated there’s less to go round.
Who’s been the most successful contestant after Bake Off?
While the show’s all about amateur baking, it’s also been a launch pad for some pretty impressive careers. Since Edd Kimber became the first-ever winner, he has gone on to publish no less than four different cookbooks and was even installed as resident baker in ‘The Alan Titchmarsh Show’.
Both Ruby Tandoh and Kim-Joy Hewlett, finalists in 2013 and 2018 respectively, have had weekly recipe columns in The Guardian. Candice Brown, the 2016 champion, has appeared regularly on TV and now runs her own gastropub in Bedfordshire.
The most successful winner of all is probably Nadiya Hussain. Since 2015 she has published numerous cook books, written an autobiography and had several series on TV. Nadiya is surely approaching “national treasure” status.
What’s so special about the Hollywood handshake?
Although the Covid-19 restrictions of the latest series mean that Paul Hollywood’s famous handshake was used very sparingly indeed, it has always been an honour that has been hard for contestants to achieve. The fact that it’s such a high point for anyone who receives it, and generally paves the way for a Star Baker award, is because of Hollywood’s reputation as one of the world’s best bakers. So if Paul says your rough-puff pastry is perfect, it really does count for something.
What’s been the series’ stickiest moment?
No question about it. In series five, Iain Watters’ Baked Alaska melted in the heat, possibly due to a fellow constant appearing to remove the bake from the fridge, and he threw it in the bin in frustration. Having presented it to Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry in this way he was, inevitably, eliminated.
So let’s hope that nothing this controversial awaits us in series 12 and, if you’re like the other millions of viewers, you’ll be counting down the days until we’re all in the tent again.