"THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW" — KUED, June 16, 9 p.m. MDT
Bakers, it’s time to dust off your soggy bottoms: "The Great British Baking Show" is back — but sadly, for fans of this charming, lighter-than-air television concoction, it will be for the last time as we know it.
Starting June 16, PBS will begin its fourth and last season with the whole gang — judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins — before they break up to go to different networks. For the past seven years, "The Great British Bake Off," as the show is known in its U.K. homeland, has aired on the BBC, but contract renegotiations in 2016 split up the seemingly happy family, with Berry, Giedroyc and Perkins staying with the BBC and Mr. Heart of Black Rye Hollywood going with the show to its new home on Channel 4. As one journalist put it, it seems that "The Great British Baking Show" was just too good for this cruel world.
But stiff upper lip! Tears don’t moisten cakes! To get ready for this final season — although, it should be noted, there are four full seasons of "The Great British Bake Off" that have never aired in the U.S., hint hint, PBS — we are here to decode some of those tricky British baking terms. On your mark … Get set … Bake!
Pudding: Let’s get this one out of the way first. In America, pudding is a soft dairy-based dessert. In the U.K., pudding is a catch-all term for desserts (as in, “What’s for pudding tonight?”), as well as a specific dessert that is a sort of cross between a cake and our pudding, and a few different savory dishes, like Yorkshire pudding or black pudding.
Self-saucing pudding: Pudding needs sauce? There are desserts that sauce themselves? Do any of these words make sense? Yes to all. If, say, you were making a chocolate self-saucing pudding, you’d basically make brownie batter and pour boiling water, cocoa powder and sugar over it just before you baked it. The water combines with the sugar and cocoa to make a chocolate sauce that rather magically appears at the bottom of the dish. De-lish.
Drizzle cake: A drizzle cake is basically a poundcake with holes poked in it to allow the drizzle — a thin sugar icing mixed with fruit juice — to soak through. Lemon is the traditional drizzle, but you can count on "TGBBS" contestants to jazz it up with some passion fruit or booze.
Speaking of Passion Fruit: While not a baking term, this tropical fruit shows up often enough on the show that it seems worthy of a mention. We don’t get a lot of passion fruit in the U.S., which is a shame because they have an intensely pungent, fruity flavor. About the size of a large fist, passion fruit is hard on the outside and, when cut in half, looks something like an alien’s innards, but with far more seeds. If you can get your hands on a ripe passion fruit, you will not be sorry.
Frangipane: Basically just a fancy — i.e., Italian — term for a sweet almond filling, frangipane has a creamy texture created from ground almonds mixed with eggs, butter and sugar. So, what makes it different from that other ground almond filling marzipan? Good question. Marzipan is ground almonds mixed only with sugar.
Sponges: Mary’s most often repeated phrase on TGBBS may be, “It’s a nice sponge,” unless it’s, “This is a little dry,” her deepest criticism. Sponge cake comes in many forms, with angel food cake being the most well-known in America. Basically, a sponge is a cake made very light by whipping the egg and carefully folding in the flour mixture. The two types of sponge cake that appear most often on the show are Victoria and Genoise. Here’s the skinny:
Victoria: As far as we can tell, bakers on "TGBBS" use the term “Victoria” sponge when referring to a plain old sponge cake, which is flour, sugar, butter and eggs. The only things that makes a Victoria sponge Victoria are its layers of strawberry or raspberry jam and cream. The cake was apparently Queen Victoria’s favorite dessert and goes very well with tea. Pinkies up!
Genoise: Reputedly the most difficult of all the sponges, a Genoise is often called “temperamental” and "tricky." We blame the eggs for it’s moody personality, whose whites need to be whisked while being gently warmed over a pan of simmering water. If you fail on this stage, apparently the Genoise turns to a flat rubbery pancake.
Proofing: So. Much. Proofing. On "TGBBS," they are so into proofing that the bakers have their own proving drawer. Here in America, we would call that drawer a warming oven and the act of proofing, rising. This is that all-important stage when the yeast ferments the sugar and gives your bread a nice texture and taste. Under-proofed and your bread will be flat and sad and Paul Hollywood will stick a finger accusatorily into it. Over-proofed and it will be tough and Paul Hollywood will tell you it’s over-proofed in disgusted tones.
Creme patisserie or creme pat: Pastry cream in our native tongue, creme patisserie is a sweetened custard used to fill … wait for it … pastries. Made like any custard, you boil the milk (and generally vanilla) and then whisk in eggs, thickeners and sugar, cooling the whole thing in the fridge until you're ready to spoon or pipe it into your pastry creation.
Choux pastry: If you've eaten eclairs or cream puffs, you've eaten choux pastry. It's essentially a mixture made of flour, butter, water and eggs. "TGBBS" contestants always pipe their choux and like to say things like, "I'm happy with these" when their pastry puffs up and turns a nice light brown.
Treacle: What we Americans call molasses. Now you know.
You know their faces and catch phrases, but how well do you really know the women and man from "TGBBS"?
Mary Berry: Mary Berry is more than the woman you wish was your grandmother: She's also a legitimate cook who trained at The Cordon Bleu in Paris as well as in her native England, where she went on to become the cooking editor of Housewife and Ideal Home magazines. She has starred in various cooking and lifestyle TV shows, ran a cooking school and even sells her own salad dressing. Now that she's finished co-judging "TGBBS," Berry hosts the BBC's "Mary Berry Everyday," plans to host the BBC's "Mary Berry’s Secrets From Britain’s Great Houses" this fall and continues to sport the classiest blond bob around. (That's right, Anna Wintour, the classiest.)
Paul Hollywood: If there's one thing we've learned from "TGBBS" it's that Paul Hollywood is the Bread Guy. According to paulhollywood.com, Hollywood was head chef at a number of fancy U.K. hotels before setting out to learn the secrets of the ancients on a bread tour of the Middle East. These days, Hollywood can be found cruising the open road on the BBC’s “Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road Trip," preparing for a new season of "TGBBO" on the U.K.'s Channel 4 and, once in a great while, condescending to shake a hand.
Mel Giedroyc: Giedroyc is the blonde one with bangs. Beyond that, she's also an English actress and presenter who met her "TGBBS" co-host Sue Perkins when they were both students at the University of Cambridge. The two have worked together over the years, jointly presenting a number of TV shows and honing their puns to a fine art on their talk show "Mel & Sue." Now that BBC's "TGBBO" is over (sniff), Giedroyc next will host a "Voice"-esque U.K. program called "Pitch Battle."