Thanks to The Great British Bake Off, the appetite for home baking is continuing to grow, with amateur bakers of all ages and both sexes setting their sights ever higher, reveals BBC Good Food's Cassie Best
As millions gather round their TVs tonight for the final of The Great British Bake Off it’s hard to believe just how far baking has come in the past few years – from a WI-favoured pastime, to a regular weekend activity for millions of Britons young and old.
Terms like “soggy bottom” and “stiff peak” are now commonplace and searches for cake recipes online are soaring as the trend for baking continues to climb. Our post bag and emails at BBC Good Food are full of images of our readers proudly displaying their homemade cakes and bakes. Meanwhile, baking shops are springing up all over the country. According to market researchers Mintel, the home baking market grew by a whopping 84% between 2007 and 2012.
The Great British Bake Off has been going since 2010 but we first noticed an upsurge in interest from 2008 when we found that cakes replaced chicken as the most searched for item on our website. This coincided with the start of the recession; it seemed that in tough economic times people were seeking out comfort food and this trend has continued ever since. Baking at home is cheap, rewarding and convivial. It is also a calming retreat from a chaotic world and all the weighing and measuring appeals to our inner need to organise! This back to basics trend was only accelerated by the Royal Wedding, with cake and bunting parties popping up across Britain.
As baking became more mainstream, we noticed a demand for more challenging recipes. During the early series, contestants were content with trying simple choux buns and chicken pies; now the bar has been raised to 3D biscuit scenes and triple-tiered towers of pies – it takes much more to impress Paul and Mary these days.
As the skill of the nation’s bakers improved, Good Food reflected this in our recipes. Our most successful cover recipe of recent years was the infamous rainbow cake featured last March. The cake consists of six layers of coloured sponge, covered in a cream cheese icing – but despite (or perhaps because of) the huge challenge involved, dozens of readers uploaded their versions on social media, keen to demonstrate their improving skills. The ability to use sites like Facebook and Instagram to show off our creations has further fuelled the baking obsession.
And the interest shows no sign of abating – searches for baking on our website are up 100% year on year. The Bake Off has sparked an interest in millions of people across the country – and not just the stereotypical middle-aged women. Many men and younger people are now spending their weekends whipping up a batch of brownies. The series has seen two male champions, and this year the youngest contestant to date. The favourite for tonight’s final according to bookmakers is man of the people, Richard Burr.
Trends in the kitchen come and go but with the Great British Bake Off rising to new heights, and people of all ages and both genders embracing the mixing bowl, baking hasn’t reached its frothy peak just yet.
Cassie Best is Food Editor of BBC Good Food
BBC Good Food’s 25th anniversary issue is on sale now, featuring a cake on the cover created by the winner of the first Great British Bake Off Edd Kimber