Mary was my childhood inspiration. Ultimate Cakes has been the one constant on my baking bookshelf, so I was thrilled when the first series of the Great British Bake Off was announced. Every year I have seen the following grow along with the Nation's passion for home baked goods. My favourite thing about this show is that the contestants are real people. They bake at home for their friends and family. They have disasters, fits of nerves and hair-brained ideas just like we do. By the end of the series they are seen as baking gods. It just goes to show what is achievable with a bit of confidence in your own ability. This show is not about achieving perfection every time. It's about passion and sharing.
Then of course there are the wonderful books which accompany the series. That beautiful apple scone round from the Great British Book of Baking... Next came The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake and that amazing Sticky Maple Apple Traybake (a huge hit at work). Then there were the books from those brave folk who entered the contest. Edd Kimber, Ruth Clemens, Jo Wheatley and Miranda Gore Browne have all brought out lovely books which sit on my shelves.
This year, the BBC have brought out a new book inspired by the show-stopper challenge called 'The Great British Bake Off: How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers'. BBC Books kindly sent me a copy of this book to have a look through before the programme started. Everyone loves to be asked 'did you make that?!' and this book talks you through some simple yet effective tips to achieve the seemingly unachievable. The book has over 100 recipes in all disciplines of baking, including cakes, biscuits, pies, breads, tarts, desserts and puddings. It also includes the technical challenges if you fancy having a bash at home. Don't let the word 'showstopper' put you off either. Every level of baker is catered for here, each with its own variation on the showstopper theme. In each section there are bakes covering beginners, a little more time and a little more skill.
There is also a Great British Bake Off App being launched this year. It's available from the Apple App Store for just £2.99. The App includes a recipe search, 'touch free' technology which allows you to skip through recipe steps without touching your phone, a shopping list, favourites and even a link to Facebook and Twitter so you can share what you're up to. Click here to download.
- Great British Bake Off Season Three Trailer
- Sneaky peak from the first episode: James faces possible disaster...
- If you live anywhere near the North-West, you can also see Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
- Follow on Twitter @BritishBakeOff with the hashtag #GBBO.
- More information is available on the BBC website.
The Great British Bake Off: How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers by Linda Collister with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
Publisher: BBC Books, 2012
Paperback, RRP £20
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