The Great British Bake Off is a show that has gripped the nation for years, with its move to Channel 4 causing a bigger scandal than when Paul left S Club 7. Clever editing and a regular countdown from the presenters makes the tent appear high pressured with the bakes becoming more adventurous yet more time restricted as the weeks progress.
“Five minutes left bakers” is announced as contestants are seen rushing about grabbing things out of fridges and digging through mounds of dirty utensils to find their decorations. There have even been cases of theft on the show: one contestant stole another’s custard in the panic of a challenge while another contestant threw away his baked alaska when it melted due to a freezer door being left open #BinGate. For a show that could be misconstrued as a relaxing hour of watching piping and icing, is in fact often very stressful to witness.
The bakers ability to manage their time seems to vary. As the weeks pass it becomes apparent to viewers who is good at sticking to time and able finish with a few minutes to spare, and who will always over-estimate their abilities and take it to the wire. Every series there are a good number of unfinished bakes leaving the judges with a feeling of ‘what if’ and the contestant insisting that had they just had an extra ten minutes they would have produced a masterpiece; often the rustic, half decorated bake they actually present would suggest otherwise.
So what is the secret to a stress free Bake Off experience? Well, being realistic with what can be achieved is of vital importance. On a recent episode one baker reeled off his plans for his bake during biscuit week, leaving judge Paul Hollywood doubting whether he could complete it all in the allotted three hours given. The baker himself acknowledged that he had not finished it in under six hours during practice, leaving viewers puzzled as to what led him to think it would be any different in the tent. Unsurprisingly he didn’t finish it, his completed bake was messy and rushed, and he was eliminated that week. Lesson learned.
Another seemingly obvious way to ensure a smooth baking experience in the tent is to use the timer and oven correctly. These contestants are supposed to be the best of the best of Britain’s amateur home bakers, able to produce incredible cakes, breads and pastries, yet the seasoned cooks still struggle with correctly operating their timers and ovens. The series is currently operating it’s eighth run and still contestants are let down by the fact they didn’t have their oven on. What is more surprising is that it took them so long to realise given they’re sat in front of it for so long glaring into its contents.
From my experience, successful bakers on the show have also reduced stress and time-related mishaps by making detailed drawings and notes for their bakes demonstrating thorough preparation and organisational skills. They keep their surfaces clean and tidy avoiding scenarios where things get lost, dropped, or broken and operate methodically through their recipe to produce a great bake that was appropriate in the time given. Let’s face it, no one has won Bake Off with a half-finished bake and a cool oven.
Want to learn more about time management to improve your performance and boost success? Check out our videos on “Managing your time”.