Great British Bake Off is back on our screens tonight and I for one could not be more excited. Since starting the blog – in itself a by-product of our household’s collective GBBO obsession – I’ve had friends, family and even random strangers on Twitter suggest that I should apply to be on the show.
Well, I have a confession to make: I did apply for the current series. I sent my application in like thousands other hopefuls (I’m not sure of the exact numbers but I believe Series 5 exceeded all expectations) and then waited. And baked. And waited.
Then, they called – back in January, I had a very nervous and bumbling phone chat with a friendly interviewer. After nattering on for ages about all things baked, she asked me five technical baking questions, some simple and others quite tricky. I’m relieved to say I got all of them right.
I didn’t mention this to anyone – not even my husband. I just waited and hoped that I would go through to the second stage where you’re invited to bring your bakes and submit to a face-to-face interview.
The call came a couple of weeks later: “We want you to bake for us!”. I was excited and then completely terrified. I finally came clean to my husband who was (and always is) my biggest cheerleader. There was very little time between the call and the actual interview, and I suddenly felt at a complete loss as to what to bring – the request was for one sweet and one savoury bake.
I dithered horribly and wound up baking about four different things before deciding they were all awful. I was so nervous, I ruined recipes that I could normally make in my sleep – I mean, how on earth can you ruin ganache? But I did. Twice!
In the end, I made tartlets filled with salted caramel and ganache, topped with mini macarons and Italian meringue buttercream. For the savoury bake, I made croissants filled with goat’s cheese, pancetta and basil – a last minute inspiration baked the morning of the interview (thankfully, I had the dough stored in the fridge).
The interview took place in an old Town Hall in central London. There were a few other bakers waiting and we all chatted nervously until we were called, one at a time, to show our bakes to members of the production team. My meeting went quickly but they seemed to like my bakes, especially the croissants (they were all eaten I am proud to report).
Some were asked to stay, others were sent home. After an agonising ten-minute wait, I was asked to be interviewed on camera by another member of the team. The rest is a bit hazy. I hate being photographed, let alone filmed, and I cringe whenever I think back to that interview. You can see the fundamental flaw in my applying right here – if I hated being filmed by one camera, how could I possibly survive being on television and watched by millions?
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried – my Great British Bake Off journey ended there. I was not put forward to the third stage, where the selected contenders are asked to bake on camera for Paul and Mary. At the time, I was equal parts hugely relieved and absolutely devastated. Now, I am glad I can enjoy watching the show from the safety of my living room, shouting baking advice at the television.
I will be following the journey of the 12 bakers in Series 5 very closely on the blog, as I have been invited by Magimix to create one recipe from each episode using their Magimix 4200 XL. I hope you will join me to see how I get along – I’m actually fairly nervous already!