Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Bake-off is Getting Silly

TV programmes have a natural life and after they have made a hit with the public, what generally happens is that they get "sequelitis". Either they have to repeat themselves, perhaps with some thin disguise, or they have to wander from the original idea in order to prolong the series indefinitely. We have got to this stage with the Great British Bake-off. It is no longer great, it is less and less British and this week it was not even about baking.
Over the last few episodes we have seen the hapless contestants being required to make things that nobody has ever tasted, seen or even heard of. Obscure varieties of cake and pastry from every corner of the world are now being found and turned into a challenge for the bakers.
Last week they were expected to make "Kouign-amann" a type of sweet pastry from one village in Brittany, utterly unknown to most French people. The instructions boiled it down to just seventeen steps - no fuss, then.
This week they had to make something called Schichttorte, an even more obscure culinary oddity from one village in Germany.


The reason a recipe has not travelled the world is that it's probably a bit more trouble than it's worth. The twenty layers of Schichttorte are grilled, one at a time, not baked. Not only is this a huge waste of time and fuel, but since it's not actually baked, what is it doing on the British Bake-off? It just gave Paul Hollywood another chance to bully people in his abrupt, offhand way. He does not even try to be polite, and the fact that he appears on the show wearing jeans seems to me rather disrespectful. Judges should dress up. Not necessarily in a wig and a robe, but at least a decent pair of trousers.

Of course the Bakeoff has nothing to do with baking in real life. Real women don't have four or five hours to make a cake, They're lucky if they get half an hour, and most of that time they will also be doing everybody else's washing up, answering the phone and watering all the pot plants on the patio.

Watching on TV can't give you any idea what things really taste like but I would be prepared to bet that anything cooked by Chetna, who was kicked off this week in the semi-final, would be pretty tasty. It is a pity to see her go and if we could invite ourselves to dinner with any one of the contestants, she would certainly be my choice.

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