It’s nearly the final episode of Bake Off. Soon Mary Berry will be leaving our screens to find good flavour and soggy bottoms elsewhere, whilst Paul Hollywood will attempt some stand up in a grotty pub in East London (a safe distance away from the local cereal cafe). Much has happened in the tent this time round – we’ve had burnt biscuits, saggy souffles, sunken tennis court cakes (yes, tennis court cakes are a thing) but above all we’ve had wisdom, so much wisdom. I’ll share some of the tastier morsels here.
Take Nadiya for example, everyone’s star baker and tipped to win. When she started she just did not believe in herself. She would tremble as Paul and Mary came to pass judgement and make an assortment of brilliantly disturbed faces. Then she got star baker and she was ecstatic: “My kids are going to be really proud and my husband is going to be so proud. And it’s weird because I’m never proud of myself. But I’m actually really proud of myself.” How sad that someone so brilliant and talented never believed in themselves. Until she got a “lingering handshake” from Paul Hollywood that is. It’s testimony to Britain’s hard work, minimal praise culture that so many people grow up feeling worthless and undervalued, struggling to believe even in themselves. I’m just glad a glazed, chocolate peacock made all the difference for Nadiya.
Then there’s Flora. Week in, week out she’d go all out to impress the judges. She’d add praline flourishes and macaroon embellishments but time and time again she’d let herself down on the actual baking (it’s Great British Bake Off, not Great British Show Off). Mary would politely tell her to just do some good baking and Paul would reiterate that less politely. In her last week of the competition Flora did say, “Well maybe it won’t be perfect this time.” This was big. For a perfectionist like Flora to settle for good enough must have been very difficult. It didn’t quite work though as she attempted to over-achieve on her final showstopper but as Mary said “it lacks flavour.”
Finally, we also learn…well, to be precise Quentin Letts learns, that people who are not white and whose families may have migrated to Britain a little after the rest of our Viking relatives, are actually humans. Letts wrote a long, ranty piece in some tired, right-wing newspaper about how overly ‘right on’ Bake Off was this year – it was too diverse, it wasn’t white enough, there weren’t enough middle-aged ‘mums next door types’ (because all mums next door are white and middle-aged of course). It was political correctness gone mad because the dreaded BBC with their ‘equality agenda’ had picked people based on their ethnicity, religion, sexuality or some other feature ripe for discrimination rather than their actual baking talent. Well, I think the quality of the baking speaks for itself as does the brilliant diversity of the three finalists. Chew on that cardamom and ‘other exotic, foreign spice’ infused iced bun Quentin Letts.
So to sum up the wisdom of the Bake Off tent: please believe in yourself, good enough really is good enough, striving for perfection probably won’t make you happy in the long-term, don’t be a bigot and, please, dry your bottom. Now for that heart warming intro music…