I hate to cook. My idea of cooking is pulling up to a drive-thru and handing over some change. I thought I would never be interested in cooking or baking shows. I did not understand why there is a whole TV network dedicated to just cooking. I kept thinking, doesn’t everyone have better things to be doing with their time?

Then came the flu. I was knocked down and out. Friend after friend had talked to me about the Great British Bake Off. Since I wasn’t going anywhere, I decided to give it a try since I wasn’t going anywhere. This is when those darn British bakers stole my heart and a piece of my brain.

The Great British Bake Off is a reality baking competition using amateur bakers as contestants. Each week they compete in a series of 3 baking challenges and their judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood get the not-so-awesome job of tasting each dish and voting one contestant off per week. I don’t know what exact magic this show contains, but it certainly does contain magic. It draws you in, making you fall in love with each contestant, the hilarious hosts, and even fall in love with the crotchety, cranky old judges.

What I really like about this show is it is teaching me of things I never knew existed. I thought just eating a donut is good enough. However, now I know these magical new words like ‘canapes’, ‘patisserie’, and ‘sponge’ that make me feel like I can use my tastebuds to become a special kind of judge for everything I eat.

The contestants participate in a series of three challenges per week. The first challenge is known as the ‘signature challenge’ where contestants are given a specific category and bake a dish to show off their skills and flavors. The second is called the ‘technical challenge’, where the judges give the contestants a very vague recipe that they have to figure out how to make without any instruction. My favorite challenge is known as the ‘showstopper challenge’, where contestants are required to make not only a visual masterpiece but something that must taste incredible as well. These tiered cakes and masterpieces have blown my mind. I did not realize that food could even turn into what these contestants create.

This show is popular because I think it makes us less culinarily-inclined people feel like they could also turn into wizards in the kitchen. My interest in making my own cookies, cakes and muffins has increased exponentially since viewing this show. I’ll be honest… I’m probably not ready to introduce my creations to anyone other than 3-year-olds, but at least it’s a step in the right direction and my family won’t continue to starve.

The Great British Bake Off has also shown me that we all need a crotchety, cranky judgmental person in our lives. They make us work harder to please them, but when we do, we feel as if we have won one billion dollars. Judge Paul causes contestants to fall to their knees in tears over the prospect of a single handshake, which he only doles out when a dish is delightful. I wish I had that kind of power over anybody. Anybody at all.

Now, please excuse me while I go figure out what they mean by a ‘traybake’ and I head off in search of the nearest custards and meringues. Yummmmm.

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