Thumbs-up (and nearly thumbs off) for ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and Nigella

The strain of baking to a deadline in a kitchen that isn’t their own drives even the calmest cooks to distraction

Share

Gossip columnists can finally sleep again at night: Nigella has returned to the melee of social media with a photograph of a nice-looking slice of blackcurrant Victoria sponge. She went silent after the publication of those vile photos of Charles Saatchi grabbing her neck but now she’s back, armed with cake, to watch The Great British Bake Off

If any TV show was capable of mending a broken heart, it would surely be TGBBO. It’s ostensibly about cooking, but actually about the way British people cope with adversity. There are no tragic interviews with the contestants weeping at the long-ago death of a much-loved pet or distant cousin, which define every other TV talent show. I’ve often wondered when someone will murder a relative just so they have something to cry about on The X-Factor.

TGBBO is a classier programme, casually studded with information about the contestants’ lives, like chocolate chips in a cookie. Only gradually do we learn their backgrounds, long after we’ve gleaned an insight into their characters from the way they cope when custard curdles.

The strain of baking to a deadline in a kitchen that isn’t their own drives even the calmest cooks to distraction. This week’s GBBO was like the Somme for hands, as every contestant succumbed to panic and sliced into one or more fingers. Paul and Mary were lucky not to be tucking into a plate full of blue plasters. And still, the bakers produced cakes wrapped in sugar paper bags or covered in truffles. One had sculpted a bear – an actual three-dimensional bear – out of moulding chocolate. Another had hidden a cake-squirrel within her cake. This, it hardly needs saying, is not the behaviour of a quitter.

The good thing for the less exacting cook is that even most baking failures are edible (though not if you accidentally use salt in place of sugar, as happened in this week’s episode). Produced a birthday cake that’s lopsided and who will care? You made them a damn cake. Make chocolate cake that’s a bit dry, and you swiftly discover this is why God gave us brandy, with which to soak it, and custard, with which to eat it.

Nigella is the über-cook – someone who bakes for pleasure rather than because it’s her job – so no wonder she enjoys watching others do the same. I too will be willing the mangled hands of the bakers to hold steady. I’ll gasp in sympathy when someone drops a tray of biscuits and I’ll cheer when their soufflés rise. Mostly, I’ll be hoping they dispel their demons as they knead their dough. It’s a piece of cake.

www.nataliehaynes.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable