I have a confession to make. Last week, I cried whilst watching an episode of BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off. And we’re not talking a polite tear, easily brushed away with a discreet sweep of the hand. No. We’re talking proper tears of the variety that prompted my fellow sofa hoggers (aged 13 and 9) to point and laugh at the embarrassment which is their mother.
In fairness, Ryan from Bristol’s Key Lime Pie was a beauty and he’d come so far since the earlier disaster of the hand-raised pie. But when he was crowned as that week’s ‘Star Baker’ – a hard-contested glory that none of his competitors expected him to get a sniff of given most of his pastry had been on the floor – his face crumpled and with it any hope of me retaining any dignity.
As a relative late-comer to The Great British Bake Off, I am still new to the highs and lows of this BBC2 ratings winner. Who knew baking buns and mixing meringues could be so emotional? Or that the sight of presenter Mel eating a puff pastry antler from another contestant’s Venison Wellington could cause all the Strutt family members to guffaw in unison? Or that a perfect tower of buns could encourage the most hardened Mr Kipling fan to abandon her French Fancies in favour of a flour shaker, apron and oven glove?
Well, it appears I am not alone. Morrisons have announced that sales of their baking trays are up by 25%. More than 23,000kg of flour and 2,200kg of marzipan have been shifted in the last week and 630 pints of vanilla extract have also found their way into our shopping trollies.
Never has a jelly mold shaped like a rabbit or a mini muffin tray held such appeal. I now find myself cooing like a baby in the cake decorating aisles. Delicate little baby pink sugar flowers! Bun cases covered in stars! Funny decorating pen thingies!
No matter that each time I open my cupboards a jumble of (to date still unused) baking frippery falls out. Who needs space for cat food when there are baking tins shaped like love hearts to buy?
If Bake Off teaches us anything, it’s that baking frippery can transform a rainy day (it always seems to be raining on Bake Off) into a moment of sheer glory. It’s just that it may take me a longer to master Ryan’s Key Lime Pie.