Thanks to the power of television it looks like Britain has fallen in love with baking again.
Now in its third series, The Great British Bake Off continues to attract big audiences on Tuesday nights on BBC2 and it’s whipping viewers up into a baking frenzy. As a result shops are seeing baking products flying off the shelves as the nation equips itself with spatulas, cake tins and icing bags.
If you’ve not yet seen the show its premise is simple. Get 12 home bakers, set them three baking challenges each week, sprinkle in a good amount of humour from hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, and once baked let experts Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood judge the results. And each week the baker who fails to rise to the challenge gets sent home.
Throughout the series the bakers are tested on every aspect of their baking skills, from pastry to sponge, bread, biscuits and puddings. If you thought baking was a relaxing, therapeutic pastime, then think again. For the bakers it’s an emotional rollercoaster of wondering if they’ve got the recipe correct, worrying if the sponge will rise, hoping their pastry bottom isn’t soggy and praying that the bake doesn’t land on the floor before it’s judged.
It’s this mixture that is inspiring viewers at home to crank on the oven and get baking. Debenhams has reported that sales of its traditional tiered cake stands have risen by 207% compared to last year and since the start of September sales of baking accessories in its stores are up 38%; there’s also been a 50% increase in sales of a new teatime range.
The department store is not alone in witnessing a rise in baking product sales. Supermarket Morrisons says sales of baking trays have increased by 25% and sales of ingredients were up 10% since the show returned to our screens.
And it seems baking isn’t just for the girls. Men have been arming themselves with electric whisks and oven mitts as well, which is thanks to the ‘Hollywood effect’ of the show’s co-judge Paul Hollywood. When a recent international football match fell on the same night that the baking series is aired, droves of men took to Twitter to discuss which programme they should be watching!
It’s not just TV programmes that are helping to drive up product sales, books are too. Fifty Shades of Grey has been one of the huge literary hits of 2012 and it has been reported that hardware stores are doing a roaring trade in duct tape, rope and cable ties. Perhaps people are just doing more DIY than normal…
If you are inspired to get your pinnie on and the mixing bowl out, then here’s Innes Associates favourite chocolate cake recipe for you. Mix 4oz of margarine with 4oz of caster sugar, then add 2 eggs and a little vanilla essence and mix well. Sift in 4oz of self raising flour and a little baking powder and then 1oz of cocoa powder. Combine it all together and then spoon it into a lined baking tin and bake at 160ºC/180ºC or gas mark 3 for 30-40 minutes. Once cool slice the cake in two through the middle to leave you with two rounds and ice with butter icing – mix 4oz of butter with 4oz of icing sugar, a little vanilla essence and a 1oz of cocoa powder – on the top of each half. Stick the cake back together and decorate with some chocolate sprinkles. Enjoy!