When the Great British Bake Off premiered on BBC2 six years ago, few could have predicted just how popular it would become.
By the time it reached its fifth year it was so big it moved to BBC1. By 2015, it was the most watched TV show of the year having attracted over 13 million viewers.
The recipe for its success is a well balanced mix of ingredients: tongue-in-cheek jokes from hosts Mel and Sue, a generous dollop of steely-eyed criticism from Paul Hollywood, and a sprinkling of home-cooked warmth from Mary Berry.
But really the stars of the show are the cakes, biscuits, breads, pastries, mousses and macarons – and it confirms our status as a nation of passionate amateur bakers.
Watching from the comfort of your own home, without time constraints and camera scrutiny, it’s easy to shout “It's only a cake!” when someone has a meltdown over grainy buttercream or a collapsed sponge. But as anyone who’s ever watched a cake collapse mid-bake for no reason whatsoever, there’s a lot that goes into even the simplest of bakes.
If the Great British Bake Off has taught us anything it’s that you can’t just throw ingredients into a bowl and expect a cake to appear. It requires precision and attention to detail before you can get creative with flavours and decorations. On the plus side, with the right recipe even the most amateur baker can produce some amazing results.
The one thing you simply must do to ensure baking success is… read your recipe. Read it twice! Then measure and lay out your ingredients – otherwise known as ‘mise en place’ – according to the instructions. This ensures that you will never miss out a vital ingredient or an important step that could be the difference between star baker and bottom of the pile.
Once this becomes second nature you will find yourself more familiar with essential techniques and baking terms. And you will be well on your way to earning that Paul Hollywood handshake!
Take a look at these 10 cakes you simply MUST have in your life!
1. - cream, meringue and lots of summer berries make for an impressive layer cake that’s actually easy to throw together.
2. A is a classic for good reason and should be in every aspiring baker’s repertoire.
3. These are filled with blackberry buttercream - melt in the mouth delicious!
4. – a must for chocoholic coffee lovers everywhere.
5. – this looks like a totally winning flavour combination.
6. The perfect cake for autumn - with maple cinnamon mascarpone frosting.
7. This should probably make an appearance on the Great British Bake Off as a challenge recipe.
9. - beautiful flavours make for a stunning bundt cake.
10. This is just the - filled with whipped Nutella cream and smothered in rich chocolate sauce.
Lucy Parissi is a London-based designer, food photographer, coffee fanatic and cocktail appreciator. She is also the food-obsessed blogger behind Supergolden Bakes.