The Joy of the Great British Baking Show

A Recipe for Success

“The Great British Baking Show” is a reality baking competition where a group of 12 amateur bakers compete against each other to be crowned winner. It is difficult to describe “The Great British Baking Show,” as the show totally defies the framework of the genre. Contestants never say things like “I’m not here to make friends,” and as a matter of fact, a large part of the show is about the bakers’ friendships with each other! However, what is most surprising about “The Great British Baking Show” is that there is no monetary reward to be won. You read correctly—all the winner of “The Great British Baking Show” receives is the title and an engraved cake stand. 

   Each episode comes with a new and exciting baking theme ranging from cakes to breads. In each episode, there are three different challenges based on that week’s theme: a signature, the technical and a showstopper. The signature and showstopper are chances for the bakers to show off their skills and talents. Although the bakers are able to practice their signature and showstopper, the technical is baked—and judged—blind. The bakers must rely on a sparse recipes and their own bakers’ intuition to produce a finished product. Based on the results of these challenges, the judges give the winner of the week the coveted title of “Star Baker” and choose which baker to send home.

   The show’s success in the United States can be attributed to its more relaxed nature compared to the average American cooking competition. Unlike the grim steel kitchens “Chopped” contestants work in, the show is filmed in a picturesque countryside tent with soothing pastels and accompanied by light instrumentals. Instead of an intense and synthy countdown, a calming track consisting of violins and chimes signals the end of a challenge. Shots of sheep, bees and butterflies shown throughout each episode help to emphasize the serene environment. “The Great British Baking Show” has an air of positivity and joy to it that differs so wildly from the typical American reality show. 

   But what really makes the show shine is the bakers themselves. The bakers range from college students to grandparents. Over the course of the show, the bakers form friendships with each other and help each other with their bakes. Whenever a contestant is sadly voted off it is always accompanied with many hugs and tearful goodbyes. One example of the bakers’ special camaraderie is that after a baker who wore Hawaiian shirts for every episode was eliminated, the next week the remaining bakers all wore Hawaiian shirts in his honor. 

   Unlike reality shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” where the chefs are actively competing against each other, the bakers are often in a contest with themselves. There is no better example of this internal struggle than Season 6 winner, Nadiya Hussain. Nadiya is a stay-at-home mother who, over the course of the season, shed her insecurities and produced many star-baker-worthy creations. After being crowned the winner, Nadiya announced, “I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again, I’m never going to say I can’t do it. I’m never going to say ‘maybe.’ I’m never going to say, ‘I don’t think I can.’ I can and I will.” Her tearful victory speech is the epitome of what makes “The Great British Baking Show” so special: everyday people doing their best.

   “The Great British Baking Show” has captured the hearts of its audience since the show aired its first episode in 2010. The relaxed nature of the competition and the bakers themselves are what make the show stand out amongst other reality cooking competitions. The popularity of “The Great British Baking Show” has led to many spin offs such as “The Great Christmas Bake Off.” Season 12 is currently streaming on Netflix, and the newest winner is set to be crowned on November 26.