The Great British Baking Show is one of my recent Netflix obsessions. In the show, amateur bakers gather under a big white tent, take their places at individual workstations, and work under tight time constraints to produce professional-quality bakes with names like “Apple and Cinnamon Kugelhopf,” “Kouign Amann” or “Spanakopita.”
The recipes and challenges are intense, but the setting is idyllic: outside the tent, animals graze in the rolling English countryside. Inside the tent, the environment is soothing: pastel colors, color-coordinated professional-grade equipment, friendly Union Jack bunting, decorative collections of teacups.
In other words, it’s the exact opposite of my baking experience. In my world, the bakes are simple and the environment is where the challenge lies.
Lately I’ve been brainstorming how it might look if someone were to option a “Great American (Mom) Baking Show.”
Here are some sample challenges in various categories:
Bake: no-knead artisanal loaf
Challenge: In this entry level challenge, bakers will be required to follow an unfamiliar recipe with the Daniel Tiger television show and an informative podcast playing at a high volume in the baking area.
Bake: two pans of brownies from a box mix
Challenge: Bakers are given a three minute head start, after which five baby monkeys will be released into each baking area.
Bake: birthday cake
Challenge: Bakers must create a cake and decorate it in the theme “Chronicles of Narnia,” to delight a five year old, using only ingredients and decorations available at the local grocery store. $10 price limit on all purchases.
Bake: dessert bars
Challenge: Bakers must follow a recipe discovered on Pinterest. Away from the tent, the judges will tell the audience: “This challenge will test the Pinterest-savviness of the bakers. Will they read all the way to the bottom of the comments beneath the original recipe post? The comments contain crucial information– when the food blogger writes “t,” she actually means tablespoon, and that an important flavor agent is listed in the ingredients but not mentioned in the step-by-step instructions.
Bake: breakfast muffins
Challenge: Bakers will be assisted by two children, ages four and two. They must be actively engaged for the entirety of the baking process.
Bake: quick bread
Challenge: Bakers will be required to follow an unfamiliar recipe while navigating a series of interruptions: taking a child to the potty, cleaning nail polish out of carpet, troubleshooting a lost Netflix connection, extracting a perler bead from child’s ear, taking a phone call from a friend in crisis.
Additional challenge for all bakes: Bakers will be required to clean their own baking stations, restoring them to order within the allotted time.
Meet the Judges:
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry– exacting yet courteous, these two judges from the original baking series can be counted on for maintaining quality control.
Ron, age three and a half– notorious for his capricious taste, this judge has been known to throw perfectly good food to the floor if it does not meet his approval. He appreciates a good white bread, but has an eagle eye for crust, “burnt” pieces, and vegetables hidden inside muffins.
Everyman Dan, AKA Dear Husband– the Paula Abdul of the GA(M)BS, this judge can always be counted on to eat his whole mini portion and smack his lips appreciatively.
Start your mixers–
Ready, Set, Bake!