Imagine a beautifully draped tent in the idyllic English countryside. There are sheep munching on grass as you whip egg whites into a fluffy meringue. If you’re picturing it, then you’re picturing the joy that is The Great British Baking Show. The GBBS, which is called The Great British Bake-Off in its home country, is literally the best antidote to a bad day.
We know the Brits are a very prim and proper people, and that has never been more clear than when you’re watching Bake-Off. Because they’re all super calm, even in the face of intense competition. As Americans, we’re used to watching shows like Chopped or those baking championships on the Food Network. Those shows are high intensity — they’re running around, sweating, watching the clock frantically. You’re biting your nails the entire time, wondering why the hell they decide to make ice cream with only 25 minutes left on the clock.
The Great British Baking Show is the exact opposite of that. It’s calm and peaceful… and delicious.
Make no bones about it, the show is a competition show, but it is so bloody calm that you almost forget. One of the biggest differences between The Great British Baking Show and American competition shows is that the bakers do have some time to prepare. But not for the technical bake, they only find out about those in the moment.
But trust me, just because they have had time to prepare does not mean there is no nail-biting drama. Just because you practice at home, doesn’t mean it goes well in the tent. Let’s face it, there is a unique kind of anxiety watching a baker sit in front of an oven willing their bread to rise.
What makes the show so enjoyable though is how nice everyone is. Even when Paul Hollywood, silver fox judge with a heart of steel to match his blue eyes, is giving a harsh critique, it’s still so damn nice. Mary Berry, arguably the grand dame of the baking world, has kind eyes and a soft voice. And the hosts Sue and Mel are hilarious, but know when to be tender and kind.
In the later series (listed on Netflix as “collections”), some things are different. Paul Hollywood is our only constant, and his new fellow judge is Prue Leith, who is a little more lively than Mary, but equally kind. The new hosts, Noel and Sandi, don’t have quite the same chemistry as Sue and Mel, but they’re still hella fun.
The Great British Baking Show is a moment of calm and a learning experience as well. On a Saturday, there’s nothing like turning it on while I clean or putter around the house. But it’s also fun to just lay in bed and watch hours of people making things like tea boxes out of biscuits or lions out of bread. In one of the challenges, a woman makes a cake that looks exactly like a bowl of ramen. I mean, come on!
And because they’re British, we’re learning about baked goods we may have never seen before. I am learning so much about all the different kinds of cakes and breads and cookies. BONUS.
When everything feels like a flaming dumpster fire, putting on The Great British Baking Show provides some much needed calm. It’s easy to zone out and lose myself in the verdant greenery, rushing water backgrounds and calming pastels. Their accents are lovely and I find myself lapsing into a British accent about halfway through the first episode. And holy hell, these creations will blow you away.
You become quite attached to the contestants as you get deeper into the competition. That’s why bingeing is so satisfying — you can watch an entire journey in the span of a Sunday.
Whether you love baking or not, do yourself a favor and watch an episode (or ten!) of The Great British Baking Show. You can thank me later.