That said the Great British Baking Show is a lot of fun to watch. It doesn’t matter if you watch the seasons out of order, because the format is the same. For ten weekends in a row, contestants meet in a big tent. On Saturday, they have the Signature Challenge and the Technical Challenge. On Sunday is the Showstopper Challenge and announcements of this week’s Star Baker as well as the person who is eliminated and will not be returning next week.
Signature Challenge: The contestants are given the parameters before hand, such as “a madeira cake to make in 2 hours” (Week One). They can bake anything at all that falls within those parameters, so there’s a lot of delicious variety. They are able to practice their recipes at home as much as they want. And each baker brings their own ingredients to the bake off tent.
Technical Challenge: Every contestant gets the same recipe and it is a surprise what that recipe will be right up until they gather for the technical challenge. Every contestant also gets the same ingredients, so there is no variation. The real horror, if you ask me, of this challenge, is that the recipe given them is deliberately sparse in its details. That’s because it is supposed to test their knowledge of baking. For example, in Week Two, the two judges are discussing the technical challenge away from the tent. Mary asks Paul, who created the recipe for that week, “Have you suggested that they create steam in the oven?” Paul answers, “No. I expect them to know how to get a great crust on bread.”
Showstopper Challenge: Again, the contestants were given the parameters before hand and they can practice at home. They can create anything they want within the project description and the given time limit. For example, for Week Two, the parameters given are “a 3-D bread sculpture, using three types of dough, one filled, to be completed in 5 hours.” As you’d expect, the creativity ran amok, usually successfully. How about a bicycle made of bread, or, as the contestant called it, “a bread-cycle.”
This season of “The Great British Baking Show” originally aired in England in 2015. The ten episodes total about 10 hours of fascinating viewing. Unlike American contestant shows, you can tell each amateur baker wants to win, but there is no nastiness or back-biting whatsoever.
The DVD has English subtitles available. There are no bonus features on the DVDs.
Favorite moments from Season 3:
….New ingredients! I had never heard of physalis berries or marula fruit. How about the cheesecake flavor combination of tarragon & apple?
….As each contestant puts his/her creation in the oven, there’s a tendency to sit on the floor and anxiously watch through the oven window. Week Four, one contestant grins and says, “I feel like … David Attenborough. ‘If we just sit very quietly here, we’ll soon see the brulees coming out.’ “
….Week Six Technical Challenge. Away from the busy contestants, the judges are discussing the recipe, Cyprian Flaounas with two flavors of mastika and mehlebi. Mary asks about the recipe given the bakers, “Have you explained to them what to do with these?” Paul admitted, “No.”
Mary smiles, “I think that’s totally unfair. It is the toughest challenge yet.”
Paul grins, “Great, isn’t it?!”
A watchable and enjoyable program.