An Ode to GBBO

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are in my head.

Sheer heaven on a plate. 

Overworked. Underproved.


I like to bake.

I like to cook.

I like big breads and I cannot lie….

Whoops…I digress

I like to try new recipes – following someone’s else’s recipe, not my own take on one. Not quite sure when I discovered that I liked baking. As a youngin’, I can remember putting together ice cream concoctions with a bit of success. I mean, I ate them. But, full on baking? No clue.

There was never a ‘this is how you cook (bake)’ lesson(s) at home. But, I do remember creating ‘concoctions’. When you’re home alone after school or in the summer, you have a bit of time on your hands for such things. 

As an adult working in a big company, potlucks were plenty. And, I found a huge field of “guinea pigs” for my food. 

No-bake cheesecakes, chili cheese dip (later to be known as ‘Sunny Dip’) and more. They loved it. 

I was in a happy place. Today, however, I work from home. If anyone would like to come over to sample the food, feel free. 


Baking/cooking is birthed from a desire. 

The desire to do something for others. Giving, kneading, creating, bringing ingredients together – all in an effort to bring people together and show love. 

RELATED: Read this noisy neighbor story on Yahoo. 

I first saw Great British Bake Off (GBBO) on PBS. That is the proper name for the show in the UK. Here, in America, it’s called Great British Baking Show – darn you, Pillsbury.

For the unaware, GBBO is a cooking competition show pitting 12 (sometimes 13) home bakers against each other in three weekly challenges. Each bake (signature, technical and show-stopper) are judged by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. The technical can be brutal – I mean, stroopwafel…windtorte. Seriously? 

Never heard of either judge until that PBS viewing. Didn’t know a thing about their background as experts. I watched and was intrigued how anyone in their right mind could put their wares (bakes) in front of these two meanies 😉 to be judged. 

Overworked. Underproved. I can’t eat that. I’m not getting much flavor. 

Until along came Netflix.

Hello again, my old friend, GBBO.  

To say I have watched every available season numerous times would be an understatement. Nearly every single day – slight exaggeration – I watch it. I’ve gotten to know the reasons why the bakers expose themselves to the judging of Mary and Paul. [Don’t get me started on the whole BBC – Channel 4 – Love Productions fiasco other than to say, “I WANT MARY BERRY BACK”] 

The hosts and judges aren’t why I keep going back to watch it over and over and over and… again. I watch because of the contestants. I already know who wins and yet I keep watching these same episodes because I’m invested in them. 

Like many, I have my favorites each season. Netflix’ order of “Collections” doesn’t align chronologically with the UK’s GBBO seasons so….

  • Collection 1 (2014): Martha, Chetna
  • Collection 2 (2013): Kimberley, Howard
  • Collection 3 (2015): Alvin, Paul J., Nadiya, Mat
  • Collection 4 (2016): Selasi, Benjamina
  • Collection 5 (2017):  Liam
  • Collection 6 (2018): Ruby, Kim-Joy, Jon, Terry, Briony, Manon

Only two of my favorites have won the entire thing – Nadiya in 2015 and Sophie in 2017. It’s notable to see how many on my list for 2018. Some would write that off as recency syndrome, but there’s more to it than that. 

2018 was a season where I felt like the producers truly showed the contestants’ friendship. They showed their personalities and how invested they were in each other. More contestants, less judges and hosts. 

It had nothing to do with Paul and Prue (Leith) or Noel or Sandy (miss you, Mel and Sue). The most recent season allowed the bakers to shine in skill and personality. In this crazy, messed up world, there’s something about friendship that makes me smile. 


I could never do what these bakers do.

Never will I think that I am highly skilled or good at baking.  Or cooking, for that matter. And I most certainly would not want to be judged by Mary or Paul or Prue. Never Mary Berry, that’s for sure. #respect

But, I marvel at the guts it takes to do such a thing. 

Watching GBBO has stirred my love of baking and cooking again. I mean, I made my own sourdough starter for goodness sake. 

(Writer’s note: Overworked or underproved would be said about every sourdough bread I’ve made. Sigh.)

My repertoire has expanded. Quick breads, couronne, baked cheesecake, biscotti, pretzels, upside-down cake, plum butter, countless soups, pizza on a pork rind crust, countless breads, doughnut ice cream sandwich, ice cream cake, homemade ice creams and sorbets.

I even made a fruitcake this Christmas!


My father-in-law loved it, but I could hear Mary and Paul loud and clear.

Style over substance.

Crushed, but not deterred I will keep at it. I love baking/cooking. It’s relaxing, therapeutic for me, but mostly I love sharing my wares with others. Quite satisfying to see their eyes light up to one of your bakes.

For that, I thank you, GBBO. You have stirred my love of baking (and cooking) again.


Knees Down, Prayers Up