The Great British Baking Show Review


Illustration by Alexandra Liu

Claire Conner, Print Managing Editor

A white tent rests on the perfectly-manicured lawns of Welford Park in England’s Berkshire County. It is surrounded by trees that look like they were lifted out of a snow globe, and as sunlight skips across the dewdrops on its peaked roof, 12 bakers stand at their workstations, ready for the first challenge of the season.

This is the magical land of “The Great British Baking Show,” which began its 13th — or rather, its baker’s dozen — season this month, kicking off the next part of one of the world’s most wholesome TV shows. Gone are the days of “Cupcake Wars” and “Cutthroat Kitchen.” The expansive realm of competition baking has finally recognized the need for episodes that are uplifting and calming, and this British classic authentically captures that spirit. Whether it’s bakers helping each other carry a towering showstopper cake across the room or light banter exchanged by the hosts and judges, the bake-off recognizes that excellent entertainment can come from heartwarming unity within a cast rather than tense, fast-paced conflict.

As bakers progress through the competition, their relationships develop just as much as their kitchen skills; their genuine love and respect for each other establish the competition’s high stakes without defaulting to the often stressful cliché of arrogant rivalry that dominates the genre. Glossy entremets, cloud-like pavlovas and perfectly laminated puff pastry provide plenty of extraordinary baking substance, but the true beauty of the show lies in its ability to showcase the ways baking can bring us together — that beyond icing and cherries on top, it’s the more universal, ordinary aspects of the kitchen that make our baking magical.