If you’re one of my Facebook friends or one of the approximately 15 people I talk to in real life, you’ll know that at the moment I cannot (will not) stop talking about The Great British Baking Show.
As the name suggests, it’s a British baking show and it’s great.
Twelve amateur bakers compete in three baking challenges each week and then, at the end of each episode, the show’s judges, everyone’s fantasy British grandma, Mary Berry, and bread-making guru, Paul Hollywood, send one of the bakers packing.
(Sidenote: I just realized right now that Mary and Paul’s names sound totally made-up.)
Anyway, at the end of the ten-week competition, one person is crowned Britain’s best baker. For this, the winner is awarded an overly-large bouquet and a not-very-impressive plaque. This show leads me to believe that the British are easy to please trophy-wise.
And to gauge by GBBS (yeah, I’m going to acronym it from here on out), British people also appear to be much (much) nicer on reality television than Americans. Not only are they not mean to each other, the contestants actually go out of their way to be relentlessly, aggressively nice to each other.
It’s weird, but in a good way. It’s also exactly what I needed in my life right now.
I’m guessing I’m not alone when I say I’ve been kind of overwhelmed by negativity lately. That seems to be going around.
I needed some nice in my life and the GBBS is chockful of nice, so I fell in love with it and then became slightly obsessed with it.
So obsessed, that I’ve decided to try it myself.
I’m going to attempt to bake my way through the competition from the nonjudgmental, no-television-crew safety of my kitchen.
But then I’m going to blog about it, because to tell you the truth, I’m sick of talking about bad things so I’ve decided to talk about cakes instead (at least most of the time).
Baking’s nice because it’s one of the few things in the world where even failures can still turn out to be kind of delicious.
Which leads me into my first GBBS challenge I tried this week — the Swiss Cake Roll.
(Point of clarification here: I’m going to be using the GBBS episodes available on PBS and Netflix as my guidelines. So when I say I’m doing a recipe from season 1, I mean the first season on PBS or Netlfix. This will differ from what was season 1 in the U.K.. Just roll with me on this, please. And, yes, that was a pun with the word “roll” there. Puns happen a lot on this show and they will happen a lot in this blog, too.)
Anyway, the Swiss Cake Roll was the baker’s very first challenge. Some of the bakers made great ones, others made okay ones, but none of them made one quite as ugly as mine.
In my defense, I’ve never made a Swiss Cake Roll before so I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.
Not in my defense, I went into this a bit cocky. Like all adults who were once type-A children, I was overly-confident in my ability to follow directions. Plus, since I’m just a wee bit Swiss, I assumed that I had some sort of innate ability to make baller Swiss Cake Rolls.
I did not.
My cake was crack-tastic, in that when I tried to roll it up, it got a whole heck of a lot of cracks in it. Cracks that I then tried to cover up with a bunch of powdered sugar and strawberries.
Also, the cake wasn’t so much rolled, as it was badly folded.
And since I used a recipe that called for the traditional jelly as well as cream, the roll was a bit overstuffed and some of the cream smooshed out. (I’m pretty sure “smooshed” is the most technically-correct word in this scenario.)
Basically, it wasn’t pretty and it would definitely be considered a Pinterest fail.
But, all in all, it tasted pretty darn good even if it looked pretty darn bad. So I’m taking that as a small victory.
See how chill about that messed up cake I was just there? I was all “Keep calm and carry on” and stiff British upper-lip about it. But in real life, when my messed up roll-up was completed, I cursed, whined to my husband about it, dramatically hurled myself on the couch and then had a beer.
But then I actually tasted it, and yeah, like I said, it wasn’t half bad, provided I just covered it with more strawberries and pretended it was a pound cake.
I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of lesson in there about how a situation changes based on how you look at it, but honestly I’m too lazy to look for that lesson right now. I’m tired from baking cakes. But, I just thought I’d throw that out there, so you could tease that lesson out yourself if you were so inclined.
I’m pretty sure there’s also a lesson in there about how when you have a problem, you should just throw some sugar at it. But, it’s possible that lesson only works with cake.
Annnnyyyyway, in the future, these posts will include the recipe I used. But this week I’m not doing that because a) it was a test run, b) I actually mix-and-matched two recipes at once, which I now realize was a really bad idea, and c) because I want to protect the innocent recipe-writers who really should not be blamed for my cake-tastrophe. (That was another pun. Like I said, that’s going to happen a lot.)
P.P.S. Next week I’ll attempt Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake. Apologizes in advance to Mary Berry and to cherries.