Hold the front pages. Pause the watercooler moments. Cancel any plans for Tuesday evenings for the next ten weeks. Watch sales of baking powder soar.
Yep, The Great British Bake Off is back!
After a tantalising teaser of a trailer was released last week, set to the suitably majestic Hallelujah by Handal, I wondered what exactly Series 4 has in store...
- Just to get to the very first episode, if the experiences of last year's contestants was anything to go to by, this year's bakers will have:
- Completed a lengthy application form
- Joined a 45-minute telephone call with a researcher
- Bought two bakes to an audition in London
- completed a screen test and an interview with a producer....
- ....Then there is a second audition involving baking two recipes for the judges in front of the cameras
- Finally an interview with the show psychologist to make sure they can cope with being filmed for up to 16 hours a day.
Tougher to get into than Noma with less than a weeks notice.
- And it doesn't stop there. Once accepted the contestants faced a gruelling schedule of two twelve hour days of filming every weekend for ten weeks
- This year's contestants include a space engineer, a student, a teacher, a dentist, a psychologist and a carpenter. Watch out for the psychologist's bakes, which apparently tell a story, such as the 'Peace' bread which includes flavours from "conflict religions around the world". Meanwhile the contestant with the most experience has over sixty years of baking under her belt. Mary's Queen of Baking Crown may be under threat...
- *Spoiler Alert* The first signature bake this series will be the Victoria Sandwich, the Technical Bake will be an Angel Cake and the Showstopper involves all things chocolatey...
- The format of each show will remain exactly the same, the only changes being in the decor of the Big Tent. According to one of the shows Art Directors there are 'more 50s paint colours....a bit cooler than the Cath Kidston thing'.
'Ruby Jacks' from last year's Bake Off
- It is estimated contestants will have spent around a whooping two thousand pounds on ingredients. As last years contestant, Dr Danny pointed out: 'You can't do this if you haven't got spare dosh'. That'll be the cost of travel, ingredients and, erm, Valium when Paul pronounces your technical bake a disaster.
- There were a record 16000 applicants this year. However, the Bake Off hasn't always been considered a resounding success. During the preview for the very first series, The Daily Telegraph thought the audience would be so bored they could 'certainly forgive the camera man if he were to commit hara-kiri in a giant pool of egg and flour'
- After last years contestants became big fans of using chili chocolate in their bakes, this year the most popular flavour is cardamom.
- I've always loved the show (see?). One of my favourite Bake Off facts? Each day before filming starts, ovens are checked for temperature. This is done by baking a Victoria sponge in each one to check it's working properly. What do they do with all those spare Victoria Sponges? Use them to tempt Sue and Mel from eating the contestants ingredients?
- Apparently the final is 'a cracker' according to presenter Mel. And the secret to winning? Being a good all rounder and choosing the Judge's favourite flavours probably helps. That'll be banana for the Silver Fox and alcohol for Queen Mary then.
- Ready, Steady...
Bake!Plonk yourself in a comfy position on the sofa, piece of cake and cuppa in hand and enjoy the next ten weeks!