Licking the beaters…

I’ve always loved cooking and baking. I can distinctly remember being a small child, 4 or 5, and thinking that the deviled eggs I was assisting with at a family gathering needed a splash more vinegar. Since no one was paying me any attention, I grabbed the vinegar and added it myself – just as my mom, grandma and aunts all noticed and came running, “oh, no no no no!” But I knew what I was doing. They tasted just fine.

I would beg my grandmother for the pie crust scraps, which I would cut into shapes and decorate with sprinkles of sugar and cinnamon.

Throughout college, grad school, and single life, I didn’t cook much. Too busy, or no kitchen, or what was the point? A frozen dinner was good enough. If there was cake around I’d only eat it all. For several of those years, I worked food service jobs. NO ONE wants to come home from work smelling like salad dressing and then cook something special for just one person. Yuck.

The last few years, I’ve had more time for cooking. I’ve also got someone to cook for (Not that I was sitting around waiting for a man to cook for, but it’s nice to be able to show off for someone. Also, Instagram was invented). I’ve been making it a goal to learn more, do more, and improve more. Every year I make a resolution to learn a new skill, whether it be bread making or pie crusts. (This year it was pastry dough, though I haven’t yet tackled it…)

I’ve also gotten really into cooking shows. I imagine competing in one, one day, when I’m better, when I’ve learned more, done more.

When I discovered The Great British BakiThe_Great_British_Bake_Off_titleng Show (known in the UK as The Great British Bake-Off), I figured it was just another chance to watch and drool over delicious looking baked goods. I had no idea how it would inspire me. Unlike many American cooking shows, these bakers are not professionals, a fact the hosts are always leaning on. They are home bakers – Just like me! They have non-culinary jobs – just like me! And in watching, I found lots of things I wanted to try. I spent lots of time googling “Victoria Sponge” and converting grams to ounces.

There were lots of challenges I thought would challenge me, too. And some things that made me say “Eeesh, glad I don’t have to make a baked Alaska.”

But then, I do like to challenge myself. So I decided to make one.

I am, in fact, going to make all the things they make. Every signature, technical, and showstopper challenge from the show. And maybe some other stuff in between. I’m going to start with Season 1 (which is Season 5 in the UK), because that’s what’s on Netflix), but hopefully I’ll be able to go back and catch the earlier seasons, if PBS ever airs them…

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I’m going to stay as true to the format of the show as I can. In every episode, there are three different “bakes” which take place over the course of a weekend – I can’t do that, but I do plan to bake at least one thing a week. At around 50 episodes, and 3 bakes each one, I’ll be baking… for the foreseeable future.  To start, the bakers make a “signature” item on a theme, something that represents them as a baker. The first episode, first bake, is a Swiss Roll. Stay tuned!

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