Great British Bake Off: is it fair for contestants?

The Great British Bake Off is due to hit our screens in a few days time, but does the show expect too much from the bakers? Are they just setting them up to fail with unrealistic tasks and not enough time to complete them?

Let’s look back to 2010 where it all began with Season 1:

  • Week 1 – Cake
  • Week 2 – Biscuits
  • Week 3 – Bread
  • Week 4 – Puddings
  • Week 5 – Pastry
  • Week 6 – Tea Party
The contestants and presenters of the first series of GBBO

These sound like just the sort of bakes that any home baker would tackle, and a fair test of their skills.

After all, this is what the show is supposed to be about isn’t it?

The Great British Bake Off is the ultimate baking battle where passionate amateur baking fans compete to be crowned the UK’s Best Amateur Baker.

Fast forward to 2018, and the challenges had increased, with the addition of extra weeks:

  • Spice week
  • Vegan week
  • Danish week
  • Patisserie week
Contestants from GBBO 2018

So, let’s look at one of the new additions….Spice week

For the signature challenge, the bakers were tasked to bake a ginger cake” – sounds fair enough – right? Good choice of challenge in my opinion!

For the technical challenge, using Paul’s recipe, the bakers must create a batch of 12 Ma’amoul, an ancient pastry from the Middle East that none of the bakers had heard of. In the batch, 6 of the ma’amoul must be filled with walnuts and shaped with a mould, and the other 6 must be filled with a date paste and decorated by pinching the dough with ma’amoul tongs” – Why?? Just why??

“For their showstoppers, the bakers were tasked to create a beautiful, gravity-defying spiced biscuit chandelier” – Seriously? Whose idea actually was this??

Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that this is a competition, and the challenges need to test the amateur bakers skills, but who came up with some of these new ideas?

But this was just the start of the craziness…..

What about the technical challenge in the final week?

For the technical challenge, there was a first in Bake Off where the bakers were asked to carry out the challenge outside the tent. Using Paul’s recipe, the bakers must create 6 pita breads served with three different dips: baba ghanoush, smoked garlic salsa verde and burnt pepper salsa, using the open campfire set up outside” – I give up….I have no words, except again….seriously??

But that’s not all

If this weren’t all bad enough, the ridiculous time constraints set out for some of the challenges beggars belief!

Too often, we see the contestants relying on the freezer, or frantically wafting a baking tray in an often desperate attempt to cool their bakes in time to get them finished/decorated in time.

Rather than being entertaining, it often stoops to showing the sheer despair of the contestants, crumbling under the pressures put upon them.

In my opinion, it just seems to have turned into another ‘reality style’ show, produced for the drama, tears and tension, rather than in search of the best amateur baker.

I really hope that this year’s show will be a truer reflection of it’s humble beginnings……..

But, either way, I will still be watching, and I wish the new group of bakers the very best of luck! I fear they may need it…..

A baker’s dozen of contestants for 2019 Great British Bake Off!

All opinions are my own, based on my own viewing of the show over the past 9 years!

Join the Conversation


  1. Great read and I truly agree with you. Gone has the flair of making a simple cake. The skills now required surpass those of some professionals!

    While I crave for cake, I have left the GBBO since it left the BBC.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *