40 Things You Need to Know About The Great British Baking Show
Several seasons of The Great British Baking Show are currently available on Netflix, and if you've never seen the show, it's time to jump in. The UK import may seem like Just Another Cooking Show, but it's not. It's like the Olympics of baking, only more adorable because every competitor is British and instead of gymnastics and swimming there are pies and tarts. The series features 12 amateur bakers who compete over the course of 10 weeks. At the end, all the competitors and their families reunite for a picnic and someone is crowned the winner. (Admit it, this is already the most precious competitive reality show you've ever heard of.)
Fun fact: the show is called The Great British Bake Off in the UK, but Pillsbury has a trademark on the term "Bake-Off" in the US, so they had to tweak the title for us.
Now, before you go down the rabbit hole, here's what you need to know about the show. And note that this information mainly pertains to the first few seasons of the show. It has since moved to a new network, and has different (but equally likeable) hosts!
The show takes place in a giant white tent in the English countryside.
Don't ask questions.
There are two judges: Mary Berry . . .
. . . and Paul Hollywood.
Yes, that's his real name.
Of the two, Paul is definitely the "tough guy" judge.
Mary will just say something ambiguous like . . .
SHE HATES IT.
Then there are the hosts, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc.
The foursome is the perfect team.
Each episode has a different theme.
Over the course of the season, they make cake, bread, desserts, pies, cookies, pastries, and more.
Within that theme, there are three challenges.
First up is the signature bake.
The bakers are to bake something that they've made a million times that fits within the theme of that week.
Next, the technical challenge.
Each contestant is given bare-bones instructions — "bake this" with no temperature or time specified — of one of Mary or Paul's classic recipes. It's usually a more obscure delicacy, so most of the bakers have never made it before. This is my favorite part of each episode, as each chef gets the exact same directions and half of the bakes come out all wonky. Usually one person gets it right.
Here's one where they all looked relatively the same.
Finally, there's the showstopper.
For the final challenge, contestants are tasked with creating a bake that would, well, stop a show. Because the chefs know the challenges (save for the technical challenge) ahead of time, some of them will prepare unique ways to present their bakes. This guy crafted a way to show off his edible gears.
Before each bake, Sue will say . . .
It's really fun.
After the showstopper, the hosts and judges discuss who should be star baker and who should go home.
The contestants spend a lot of time staring into their ovens.
It's, like, half the show.
And sometimes they have emotional breakdowns.
It's stressful AF.
Tragic baking mistakes occur.
This looks hilarious, but it's not as funny when you realize how carefully she had to measure out those dry ingredients. Then it's a damn NIGHTMARE.
The worst thing you can do is give Mary Berry a soggy bottom.
The woman HATES soggy bottoms.
Just kidding, this is the worst thing that can happen.
Everyone died on the inside at this moment.
Rarely do people give up, but it did happen once and it was really sad.
Usually they're just really hard on themselves.
Honestly, they're so mean to themselves.
If you wouldn't say it to a good friend, you shouldn't say it to yourself, Tamal.
There's usually at least one dirty joke per episode.
British humor . . . so subtle.
And there's always an adorable British man.
This is Norman, a fan favorite.
The show is also just straight-up food porn.
There are some crazy-creative desserts.
I mean, look at this golden citrus roll.
The artistry of this almond cake!
Because Britain is such a cultural melting pot, there are always some crazy spices.
Charlotte Russe: not just that store in the mall you liked in college.
These fluffy raspberry mini cakes.
(Norman again, what a treasure.)
In case you're thinking, "I could do that" — you probably couldn't.
The wiggle on this chocolate soufflé.
That's Mary Berry's recipe, of course.
These perfectly uniformed mille-feuilles.
This bread that is also a lion.
This absolute INSANITY.
Something can look gorgeous, but if every element doesn't taste good, Paul and Mary will show you the door.