OH please, please make it go away. The Great British Bake Off is back with all its pastels and bunting and perfectly spiffing loveliness and I can hardly bear it. Don't get me wrong, nothing, I repeat nothing, comes between me and a chunk of cake, but I have a compartmentalised approach to the sweet stuff. I'm not remotely interested in how it changed from a list of ingredients into the bun I see before me.
As an expert in neither, it strikes me that cooking, unlike baking, is something that can be tweaked along the way. A bit of this and a squirt of that, you can taste as you go and mistakes can usually be rescued. It's a forgiving kind of sport. Any tweaking of ingredients in baking, however, can have a catastrophic effect. Leave a casserole in the oven five minutes too long, no problemo. Leave a sponge past its allocated time: disaster. With baking, there are rules and I really can't abide rules.
I can chart my own fear of baking back to a childhood incident when I decided to surprise my mother with a cheesecake. It was one of those packet jobs no doubt viewed with suspicion by aficionados but hey, I was eight. While opening the packet of crunchy base I managed to tip the contents onto the kitchen floor which was, tragically, covered in carpet tiles. With a flagrant disregard for health and safety I proceeded to scrape the mixture, plus wiry bits of carpet, back into the tin. Hours later, as the family politely tucked into my creation, I kept mum. I can't see a cheesecake now without thinking of soiled carpet tiles.
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Then there was Home Economics at school which produced a weekly offering of woeful creations fashioned from fusty flour, which bore the prints of a hundred sticky fingers, and raisins older than us. My greatest success was a batch of scones which kept the PE department in hockey pucks for years.
Another reason I can't abide this baking show, apart from all the blubbing, (it's a slightly wonky Swiss roll, people, let's get some perspective) is the wave of baking enthusiasm it sparks. Suddenly everyone is inflicting their sub-standard sugary experiments on loved ones.
But what I find really problematic about this show is that it is essentially an hour long, finger-licking advert for cake which compels me to the corner shop for a fresh stash. As all cake addicts know, once that sweet treat is over the threshold, the battle of wills is lost and all you can do is chow down on that sweetness until every last crumb is gone.