for September 2018


The Great Bake Off Escape


It’s that particular time of year when the Great British Bake Off entertains us with some extraordinary confectionary concoctions made by a variety of very different amateur cooks. I am personally feeling very nervous for them because I was nearly one of them …

It started in November when my granddaughter, who was unwell at the time, suddenly asked me to enter the competition, to which I replied ‘Don’t be ridiculous – have you seen what they do?’ It was then my daughter’s turn to tell me to enter, for my granddaughter’s benefit and to help her get well, to which I again replied ‘Don’t be ridiculous – have you seen what they do?’ My next surprise was to receive an online application form sent by my daughter. Feeling under pressure, I gave in to amuse them both and completed the lengthy and very inquisitive application form and sent it off. Job done, I thought. But this was just the beginning.

Many telephone calls, interviews and bakes later I found myself in the final audition. I was terrified. After many sleepless nights, daily cookery experiments whipping up mirror glazes, swirling and colourful and oh so messy, practising with chocolate shapes, tempering chocolate for fancy cake collars, perfecting chocolate curls and chocolate horns, trying out recipe after recipe to get macaroons (tricky little so-and-sos) right, baking six plaited loaves, pork pies, quiches and highly decorated biscuits, I progressed through the process and was in peril of possibly making it onto the show. I had never in my dreams thought I could possible get this far!

I had signed many confidentiality clauses and had not been able to tell more than close family and friends that I was involved and there was the possibility of having to hide my secret for a very long time until the programme was made, shown and finally finished. I had been arriving home day after day to find Amazon boxes which were full of such things as icing nozzles, cake utensils I had no idea how to use, book after book on ‘How to make macaroons’ and ‘How to bake everything’ plus cake-decorating bibles. My daughter was on a roll! I was living her dream – a reverse parent daughter role. I was baking and practising all day and every day, and making showstoppers and gingerbread houses in my sleep.

After this last and very challenging audition, I went home to collapse and then ponder on the outcome. The news received later that hundreds of thousands of people had applied and I was not in the last twelve was the best of all possible worlds. I had not let my granddaughter and my daughter down and I could live and sleep again. ‘Never mind’ my daughter said. ’You’ll enjoy the show because you will have met some of the people who will be in the final 12 and you can try again next year.’

What? Go through all that again?

Jacky Ceeney