This won’t come as a surprise to those of you who have been following my adventures for a while now, but I love The Great British Bake Off. What you may not realise though is that I actually came to GBBO quite late. Although I have been a fan of baking for most of my life, it was only when I started getting a bit more serious with it (around the time that I launched my Facebook Page) that I also starting showing an interest in the world of baking around me – and that includes GBBO.
I had heard of GBBO of course, but I’m not really a big watcher of live television, so I had never caught an episode – in spite of MANY people telling me that I should.
Purely coincidentally, it was the year that GBBO moved from BBC2 to BBC1 that I eventually gave in to peer pressure and sat down to watch the first episode of series five. I can honestly say that from that first signature challenge onwards, I was well and truly hooked. I have to say that I think I joined at the right time too – it remains one of my favourite series, even now. Obviously, I have now gone back and re-watched all of the earlier series ad nauseum, so don’t worry about that!
It wasn’t until the following year that I decided that it would be even more fun to bakealong with the show and so my #bakealongwithGBBO was born. I originally started by cherry-picking which challenges I would attempt, but as I found myself being drawn to the challenge of the technical bakes more and more, last year, I decided to up the stakes by limiting myself purely to the technical bakes. Across the series, I attempted the same bake as the bakers in the tent and my self-imposed rules were that that I had to follow the same rules (and timings) as the contestants and post the result regardless of how successful I may or may not have been. You can read all about how I got on with last year’s technical challenges here.
During the three years of my #bakealongwithGBBO, I have had so many messages and comments from people telling me that I should apply for GBBO, but I had always laughed them off. Prior to my #bakealongwithGBBO adventures, I had always been a bit of a one-trick pony when it came to my baking – cake was where it was at. However, as my #bakealongwithGBBO broadened my horizons, I started to find enjoyment in more ‘genres’ of baking. It probably has had the single biggest impact on my baking than anything else I do, because it has forced me to try things that perhaps I would never even have thought to try otherwise.
In regards to applying for GBBO, I remained reluctant though. Not only would the filming schedule be pretty much impossible alongside my full-time job, but if I’m honest, I simply have no desire for fame. I am a bit of a hermit and so the thought of suddenly placing myself front and centre on national television wasn’t necessarily something I was prepared to do.
Obviously, as I have started blogging, it has forced me to put myself out there more, including my appearance on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice last year and so this year, I finally decided that this year was going to be the year. Yes, you heard that right, I FINALLY APPLIED FOR GBBO!
I’ll be honest, my feelings about ‘fame and fortune’ haven’t changed and I had no idea how I would manage to combine an appearance on the show with my very busy working life, but I felt, if nothing else, it would finally give me a response to all of the people who constantly tell me to apply: ‘I did!’
The first stage of the application process is a VERY long form that you have to complete and it asks you about your experience of baking within many different ‘genres’, including bread, biscuits, patisserie, cakes and a lot more besides.
It was actually very soon after I sent off the form that I received a call from one of the show’s researchers for the next stage of the process – the telephone interview. I was actually still at school on the evening that they called and ended up spending about an hour on the phone to a very friendly chap telling him all about myself, my life, my baking history and a lot more besides – oh, and answering some REALLY tricky baking knowledge test questions. However, it became very clear at this stage that my considerable online presence might be an issue.
GBBO is a competition to find the nations best amateur baker and, although yes, technically I am an amateur baker (Mr Baker’s Cakes is not a business and I don’t sell my cakes), I got the impression that the fact I had previously worked with brands and magazines, had my own website where I posted recipes and tutorials and had competed in international competitions was going to be a problem.
Do you remember last year, when the press discovered Steven Carter-Bailey’s Instagram account and there were all kinds of accusations that he was in fact a closet professional? I wondered if the GBBO team were worried about a similar issue with me…
A follow up discussion with the team reinforced my theory that this was going to be a problem and it ultimately came as no surprise when I didn’t progress to the next stage of the audition process. As I have already said, I already wasn’t 100% on board with competing on the show, so I wasn’t massively disappointed, but at least now, when people ask me why I haven’t appeared on the show, I can answer quite honestly, ‘Well, they didn’t want me…’
It also means that I can continue to enjoy the show from the vantage point of my own sofa, before tackling the technical bake in my kitchen and writing all about it for you here.
Of course, we now know that The Great British Bake Off will be returning to our screens one week from today, on Tuesday 28th August at 8pm on Channel 4 – slap bang in the middle of Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour! Don’t worry though, I will be tuning in from my hotel room in Glasgow and I will be tweeting along with the episode too – feel free to join me live on Twitter.
The newest bakers to be welcomed to the GBBO family have been revealed this morning and I am doing my best to obtain one of the hallowed press packs to share them with you all. But in the meantime, you can head to the GBBO social media channels to find out more.
I can’t wait to see what new challenges the GBBO team have dreamt up for the new bakers and can only imagine how tricky it must have been to bake in the tent during some of the crazy weather we had earlier this year. It would only be fair to admit though that at least a small part of me will be smugly sitting there watching and thinking, ‘Rather them than me!’
If you want to follow my #bakealongwithGBBO adventures during this year’s series, then be sure to hit the subscribe button on the right before you go! You’ll also need to hit confirm in the email I’ll send you too.