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The Untold Truth Of The Great British Baking Show

"On your marks, get set, bake!"

If you're familiar with those words, then you're probably a fan of The Great British

Baking Show.

However, from the modest grand prize to how all of the dishes actually get done, there's

a lot more to this televised baking competition than you'd ever guess.

If you've ever heard your friends talking about The Great British Bake Off, then yes,

it's the same thing as The Great British Baking Show.

The competition first aired in Britain, under the name The Great British Bake Off, and incorporating

the term 'bake-off' was very much on purpose.

Because this is a contest, producers needed something to convey the competitive nature

of the show.

Sure, all of the contestants are lovely and sweet as pie, but at the end of the day, only

one winner can prevail.

As the show made its way to the United States, "bake-off" was already being used, taken by

the Pillsbury Bake-Off since it first started in 1949.

PBS didn't want there to be any confusion in the market or issues with copyright, and,

quite frankly, Pillsbury was not open to sharing the name.

But don't worry.

The episodes are exactly the same.

There's just a difference in the opening credits, depending on where in the world you're watching

it.

Certainly you've heard of MasterChef, where the winner of $250,000 is announced in a shower

of fireworks.

Or, perhaps Nailed It! and the $10,000 that contestants have the chance to take home.

Well, The Great British Baking Show offers none of that flash...or cash.

"N-N-Shut up."

As it turns out, the only physical prize the contestants are vying for is a bouquet of

flowers and a cake stand.

Yep, that's it.

Sure, it's a beautiful, big bouquet and an etched glass cake stand, but wouldn't you

think their hard work would earn them a little something more?

Luckily, there's quite a bit of opportunity that comes along with the championship title.

Previous contestant Martha Collison told The Sun that part of winning the competition is

that you become, in her words...

"[A] national treasure just by doing it, because everyone in Britain loves the Bake Off so

much."

And for many previous winners, that popularity has certainly paid off in big ways, helping

them to move forward in their baking careers with cookbook offers, speaking engagements

and even TV shows.

Of course, some contestants aren't seeking the spotlight, and they started baking with

very simple goals in mind.

"Rahul moved to the UK eight years ago."

"Hello guys!"

"And now bakes regularly to make new friends."

However, being crowned a champion on a show of kindred spirits has elevated and expanded

their lives in ways that a cash prize could never match.

At first glance, the setting of The Great British Baking Show is pretty similar to any

other cooking show, with stations set up for each contestant.

It's a lovely decorated kitchen, with plenty of light.

But unlike other cooking shows, those stations are actually set up in a giant tent, pitched

on the lawn of the notable Welford Park property in Berkshire.

And really, that's exactly how it was intended.

The show's creators wanted the feeling of a rural baking competition, set in a village

fete.

"Fete" is a British term to describe a public gathering, which is typically held outside

or in a tent, featuring games, entertainment, and the peddling of wares and plenty of things

to eat.

The tent gives the feeling of a large festival, allowing contestants the opportunity to present

their bakes in a friendly environment.

Ah, Paul Hollywood.

In addition to having a fun, recognizable last name, Hollywood is also an expert baker,

and he has been with The Great British Baking Show since its inception.

Hollywood is a world-famous baker, having held positions at some of Britain's top hotels,

owning his own bakery, and writing several baking books.

He's been one of the show's most prominent players and, easily, the most intimidating

presence in the tent.

Despite his tenure, some fans were not too happy with him after a remark he made during

Season 10.

When describing an upcoming technical challenge, which features puff pastry, plenty of cream,

and caramel, Hollywood made a casual comment about the French dessert.

"Diabetes on a plate."

And with that remark, some viewers with Type 1 diabetes felt that Hollywood was being offensive.

Paul's counterpart, Prue Leith, noted that the dessert was worth every calorie, perhaps

to lighten the scene, but it didn't stop upset viewers from speaking their minds and posting

notes to Hollywood on social media to please refrain from joking about the disease.

Hollywood quickly apologized on Instagram, saying…

"A remark [regarding] diabetes I made on tonight’s show was thoughtless and I meant no harm."

Any baker knows that half of their success in baking is thanks to their oven.

Traveling to a friend's place or baking for the family at mom and dad's house for the

holidays can certainly yield different results than what you practiced at home.

And that's the exact challenge that contestants face on the show.

The bakers have to get used to a new oven, but the producers level the playing field

by testing every single oven before they begin to film each season, and before any bakers

enter the tent.

One employee on the show, Georgia May, told The Guardian that each of the ovens is checked

by popping a Victoria Sponge Cake into it to test for consistency.

May says they have a runner at each station with their cake mix ready, so all cakes are

going in at the same time, ensuring they're properly tested for timing, temperature, and

levelness.

Of course, this is The Great British Baking Show, so even if the ovens are tested and

maintained, you should always expect the unexpected.

"S---!"

If you've watched The Great British Baking Show, you've surely noticed the stunning illustrations

featured throughout each episode.

As a contestant's creation is described, noting its flavors and decorations, a beautiful illustration

accompanies it, giving viewers a look at what's to come.

And that artwork is all thanks to one man, Tom Hovey.

Hovey has been the illustrator for show since the beginning, and he's now illustrated over

1,000 cakes, complete with intricate details.

Hovey told the BBC that he gets the photos from each of the bakes after an episode is

filmed, and then he gets to drawing.

He has honed his craft over the years, delivering the final illustrations for each episode about

a week after receiving the photos.

He draws all of the illustrations by hand, starting with an outline.

He then scans them and colors the pieces digitally to provide the finished product that we all

see on the show.

Baking is a pretty specific hobby.

For some people, just baking a cake at home can be stressful enough, so can you imagine

what it would be like to do it on television, among competitors, and judges?

It's not easy to stay focused.

Contestants have to block out the constant chatter of other bakers, cameras constantly

in their faces, and gentle reminders from the hosts about time.

"Bakers!

You have one hour.

One hour left.

Bakers one hour."

However, the biggest drawback of baking in a tent is that you have no control over the

temperature, and temperature can dramatically affect baked goods.

The show's home economist, Faenia Moore, told the BBC that the temperature is probably the

biggest challenge on the show.

The weather changes often, making some of the bakes much more of a challenge.

If the bakers need warmth to proof the dough for bread, it's usually too cold, but when

they're working with chocolate, it's normally too hot, and its melting.

It's a constant battle with temperature and distractions to make sure they're still presenting

their best possible bake to the discerning judges.

Unlike many other shows, The Great British Baking Show is filmed on the weekends.

This is due in part to allow contestants to work their day-jobs and spend time with their

families while competing.

A resident of the Welford Estate, where the show is filmed, told The Sun that it actually

only takes three days to set up the tent, add some flooring, and put together each kitchen

station.

The set isn't used throughout the week, but once the weekend hits, it's game on.

And while it's wonderful to film over the weekend, allowing the bakers to continue living

their normal lives during the week, there's one caveat to the filming process.

Former 2013 contestant and winner Frances Quinn told Cosmopolitan that contestants actually

have to wear the same clothes for two days in a row to maintain consistency throughout

filming.

Contestants get a new apron to change into for the second day of filming, but otherwise,

outfits are all the same.

Whether you're baking a simple dessert for yourself or hosting an elaborate potluck for

an army of friends and family, it's always a hassle to do the dishes.

So you can imagine what the situation looks like in The Great British Baking Show's tent?

With just a single challenge, the contestants could use hundreds of plates, bowls, pots,

and pans.

Certainly the production staff just loads everything into industrial machines, hits

a few buttons, and leaves it to wash...right?

Or they have a crew of little helpers who are constantly scraping, cleaning, and stacking

dishes.

Unfortunately...that's not the case.

"Really?"

According to the BBC, there are no dishwashing machines on the set, because it would be way

too noisy for filming.

Plus, plenty of the ingredients used in the bakes, like sticky caramel, don't normally

come off when you use a machine.

So, a single crew member is tasked with washing all of the dirty dishes from each of the baking

rounds by hand.

And it's no easy feat.

Every season, the show's dishwasher goes through 1,000 dishcloths, 80 sponges, and 8 gallons

of soap.

"This is bulls---."

It might be hard to believe but one of the show's key players earned a bit of fame early

in his career as a swamp creature.

In 2018, the show switched things up and the original cast of Paul, Mary, Sue, and Mel

was no more.

Paul Hollywood stayed, but a new cast was introduced with Prue Leith as his judging

partner, along with Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig as hosts.

While some viewers might think Fielding is a bit eccentric, with his bold outfits and

unusual sense of humor, this role is nothing compared to what he was doing before he started

co-hosting the show.

Fielding has been a successful comedian and artist in the UK for more than a decade.

You might have seen him as a reclusive goth on the IT Crowd or in his own brilliantly

surreal show, Luxury Comedy.

But his biggest claim to fame was as a member of a comedy duo, The Mighty Boosh, and one

of his most popular characters was Old Gregg, a lonely merman who lives in a swamp.

A clip of Fielding as Old Gregg went viral in 2008 and, currently, has more than 9 million

views.

It even spawned a catchphrase.

"I'm Old Gregg."

"What?"

"I'm Old Gregg."

It's just a few simple words but they're an important part of a journey that eventually

led Fielding into Britain's most beloved tent.

There's a ridiculous amount of delicious breads, pastries, cakes, and more being baked every

season.

Each item is evaluated, and there's certainly a slice or two taken from the finished bake

for the judges, but where does the rest of it end up?

Don't worry.

Every little crumb is enjoyed.

"So far we've consumed 13 sandwich cakes, 497,000 breadsticks, 11 tartlets, two tray

bakes, and a large macaroon."

Faenia Moore, who runs the behind the scenes logistics of the tent, has the wonderful job

of dispersing the leftover baked goods.

According to Moore, everything gets eaten, but it must be dispersed in an orderly fashion.

She told the BBC,

"It's important for the bakers to eat what they've slaved over.

So after each challenge, I make up a 'baker's basket' to go to their lunchroom."

But once the bakers get their fill, the rest of the leftovers go to the crew to be enjoyed,

which has to be the sweetest perk of the job.

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