Do you watch The Great British Baking Show on PBS? Several people recommended it to us during the last season, and we watched a few of those episodes. Quite by accident, we realized that Season 3 was up and running here in the US, and now we are recording the episodes to watch as a family. We typically have one show that we record and watch together – it’s usually This Old House episodes, or Amazing Race (with E, not F). GBBS is a really fun one to watch together. The girls are really into the technical aspects of the baking challenges, and we also appreciate that the tone of the show is really humorous and kind. There’s no backstabbing or vengeful plots. The tension comes from the very real stress that baking under pressure can produce on anyone, even a seasoned pro. It’s funny how invested we can get into a pie or cake even though its success is not a matter of life and death.
We’ve watched the first episode together, and after the final baking challenge (rifts on a Black Forest Cake), I made a Sweet Cherry Streusel Pie from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. This was my second pie-try from this cookbook that I purchased in NYC this past March. The first pie was a rhubarb custard pie that did not set correctly the first day I made it, but after spending the night in the refrigerator, was delicious (though not so attractive). I actually decided to make two cherry pies, and would have made more if they didn’t take so much time!
My first complaint about the book is the lack of weights for ingredients – particularly with fruit that isn’t sold by the cup but by the pound. I ended up overbuying cherries to the tune of three times as many as I needed. It’s hard for me to eyeball ten cups of cherries. So I bought thirty. I’m eating some now as I write this.
My second complaint is that I’m finding that the cooking times / temps tend to be a little on the high side. I’ve yet to master the perfect crust, not too dark or overbaked. But this was partly my problem too, because I tried to bake two pies at once, which did alter the overall baking time. I know better than this, but forged ahead anyway.
On the GBBS, one of the contestants added cardamom to the cherries in the Black Forest Cake, and one of the judges leaned over the counter to say “Be careful with the quantity – too much can make the finished product taste medicinal.” The girls walked into a kitchen filled with amazing cherry pie smells a few hours later, sniffing the air and complementing the process. I announced that there was cardamom in the pie, and the little one told me to “watch my quantities” and reiterated the medicinal threat, thereby securing her future access to all GBBS episodes whenever she wants to watch them. Even past her bedtime.
If you like the show, then you simply must read these recaps by Allison Robicelli on Food 52. They are hysterical. Don’t read them over lunch at work in your super quiet office.
I’m also completely in love with the drawings that illustrate the contestants’ baking plans for each challenge.
Here’s an article on the artist for these drawings. I would like to know how to go about getting this job on future seasons. I’m not joking.
One more baking note for the day – I’m taking full advantage of grownup camp to hit up some local bakeries that I don’t make it to on a typical morning. Pint Size Bakery’s new location is delightful, and you simply must get there this week to pick up a Strawberry Rhubarb Brown Butter Crumb Cake. It makes an excellent accompaniment to this week’s GBBS episode – because trust me – you are going to get hungry!