Stand by your stand mixer, adjust your aprons and – relax. The Great British Bake Off is back (Channel 4, 8pm, tonight), and all’s right with the world, at least for an hour or so a week.
Kudos to the production team: where filming schedules for favourites like Call the Midwife, Line of Duty and Doctor Who have faltered, and even The Archers resorted to navel-gazing monologues for months, Bake Off powered on.
Filmed over six weeks instead of the usual 12 to 14, with all the crew and contestants living in a self-contained Bake Off bubble, they’ve delivered exactly what we need right now: a perfectly golden, skilfully decorated slice of normality.
Over the years there have been dozens of bakers and baker’s dozens, and some of the contestants have risen to the top like the fluff on a magic lemon pudding. We’ve shared their stunning show-stoppers below. Of all the contestants so far, has there been one to compare to Kim-Joy? She’s to Bake Off what One Direction were to The X Factor – she didn’t win, but boy, did she win. Her creations, at once joyfully whimsical and awe-inspiringly detailed, epitomise the best of Bake Off.
When I caught up with her earlier this week, she told me that the show has transformed her life. “Baking before was just a hobby and I never thought that it could be something I could do as a career. So it has been amazing for me, and boosted my confidence as well.” That said, she admits, “it was the most stressful thing ever. Now everything I do it’s like, ah! It’s really easy!”
She’s excited about her new book, Christmas with Kim-Joy, published by Quadrille on Oct 1. It’s very much in the spirit of her first book, Baking with Kim-Joy, “very colourful and feel-good with inspirational quotes. I wanted it to be uplifting”.
There’s plenty of trademark decoration, but, promises Kim-Joy, “it is for all levels, with step-by-step instructions, and you can just bake it plain and eat it!” Best of all, she says, is when people use her recipes as creative springboards. “I love it when people send me pictures of their bakes from the book, tweaked and turned into something different.”
As for this year’s Bake Off, Kim-Joy will be tuning in, very conscious that this year’s contestants will be feeling the pressure. “It’s daunting when you get announced and the whole world is looking at you so I’ll try to reach out to them and welcome them to the family.”
It’s all made more intense by having to keep schtum about the show for so many weeks. “They can’t tell anyone and suddenly people recognise you in the street… it’s exciting but weird.” For us at home, a new series is quite different: comforting, familiar, and exactly what we all need right now.