Try to remember the fanciest dessert distribution you’ve ever seen. Now imagine what would happen if he stayed outside in the summer heat for a few hours. The mousse would turn to ooze, the tiered cakes would start to slide and slide, and the delicate chocolate decorations would melt into unrecognizable drops.
The truth is you don’t have to imagine it – just watch The Great British Pastry Fair on Netflix, where the creation of elaborate baked goods in oppressive heat became the main drama. The show, whose season finale appeared on Friday for American viewers, has always been filmed outdoors in an iconic white tent around England. But in 2020, one year away from hell, the famously temperate British summer got too hot for the wayward process of cooking. Heat is now the central villain of the series.
“It’s like Satan’s cooking here,” joked Laura Adlington, one of this year’s bakers, in an episode filmed in July. After another sweating day in the tent, Paul Hollywood – the steel-eyed judge famous for his bread expertise – told fellow co-hosts he had to “take off his jeans” at the end of the day. . They grimaced and laughed uncomfortably.
The show is about everything many Americans love about England: the hills, the singing accents and the dry humor. The competitors are in fact pleasant to each other for once, a relief after all you’ve come to expect from American reality TV.
For millions of viewers, The Great British Bake Off (his British title) was a welcome retreat from reality. When the first season aired in 2010, its creators probably weren’t expecting it to turn into a decade-long cultural phenomenon, let alone the problem with rising temperatures. The United Kingdom was seeing frequent and unprecedented heat waves During the last decade. In Berkshire, where half of the seasons were filmed, the average maximum temperature in July has risen by more than 1 degree C (nearly 2 degrees F) over the past few decades.
Producers tried to give viewers some semblance of normalcy in a very strange year. No one wore masks on the show and the pandemic remains out of sight; the cast and crew had to live on set and regularly pass Covid-19 tests to be able to continue as usual. The nasal swabs were, of course, all out of scope.
The Great British Baking Show has seen many weather-related disasters in a decade. Season 9 brought us Terry Hartill’s chocolate Eiffel Tower Cake, who leaned over, then rocked in the heat. And no one could forget #BinGate of season 5, one of the biggest controversies of the series. A baker had mistakenly taken the Alaska baked by another competitor out of the freezer, and in a fit of rage, Iain Watters, the baker who had been “sabotaged,” tossed his fondant creation in the trash and climbed out of the tent. Last year, for the first time – and perhaps a subtle nod to global warming – the nominees received Fans for their work tables.
The heat has become an increasingly familiar character. Camera pans over shot after scorching sunburn. The judges explain an upcoming challenge, stressing once again that the heat will make it even more difficult. (Butter, a star ingredient in many baked goods, turns into liquid at 94 F [34 C], and starts to soften long before.) To cool off during the challenges, bakers have started wearing damp rags around their necks that leave wet spots on their aprons.