They would corner me at the kettle, take me to one side at parties, whisper in hushed tones and confess their dirty secret to me. Why me? Well, I was out and proud; I had brought the cake with me so they knew that I loved to bake.
Before The Great British Bake Off
exploded onto our screens in 2010 baking was something of an underground passion, the reserve of an older generation, preserves and Jerusalem. When I signed up for my first cake decorating class in 2007, my then boyfriend (now husband and edible airbrush artist) warned me to expect “you and a load of old ladies.”
But it was far from that; my cake decorating class was filled with young women. It seemed that baking was reaching a new generation and I was excited to be able to share my passion with likeminded folk. It became apparent that there were a whole lot of people into baking but still some kind of stuffy stigmas attached which kept the passion on the downlow. These friends and colleagues who poured their hearts out to me told me of their signature bakes, triumphs and failures in techniques, and showstopping bakes that they were proud of... quietly.
Who could have predicted that a little reality TV could change this forever? With the Bake Off came a surge of excitement about baking – everyone rushed into their kitchens, baked up a storm, and proudly shared with anyone they could feed! John Lewis reported increases in sales of baking equipment
year on year and the Lakeland catalogue became the new porn, with its cheeky new gadgets to achieve the perfect bake.
With each new crop of GBBO contestants to brave the marquee, the excitement is palpable. Twitter goes into overload as millions of keen bakers live every dramatic moment as it happens. Remember ‘custardgate’? Deborah has only gone and pinched Howard’s custard! Or Cat Dresser’s immortal mantra of ‘fridge and pray’? We are right there in the kitchen with them, our hearts breaking in unison as the camera is shoved in the face of a contestant whose soufflé has fallen. I am by no means squeamish when it comes to on-screen violence, but a slipped thumb on a lemon zester makes me scream in anguish.
Herein lies the secret to the success of the Bake Off; you will relate to each and every moment of pride or despondency because you know how this feels firsthand. With each bake you are pouring in your emotion, your love, your hope (in my case when I attempt anything pastry related!). You know that cake is not just a cake, it is more important than that. We bake to show someone that we love them, to create something tangible and tasty from start to finish, to impress, to relax (sometimes), to test ourselves, we run a gauntlet of emotions. Remember this when the show starts on Wednesday evening. Be kind on social media and I will look forward to seeing what drama the next few weeks will give us!
Charlotte White is the passion and artistic hands behind Restoration Cake
. Charlotte has created exquisite creations on behalf of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Great British institutions such as The Old Vic Theatre and the fabulous Dame Vera Lynn. With her first hardback book, Burlesque Baking
, published in February 2014, Charlotte is taking cake decorating to a whole new level of decadence!