Review: Great British Bake Off Christmas Special

The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special wasn’t quite what it said on the (cake) tin. Without the contestants, the time-pressures and Sue and Mel’s many innuendos, Bake Off becomes just another average cooking program – less ‘Bake Off’; more just ‘Bake’. Though Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood’s festive masterclass made me want to get into the kitchen, the program lacked the charm and excitement of the normal show.

Nevertheless, the programme certainly taught Britain how to bake its way around Christmas. The six recipes presented by Mary and Paul were easy to follow and suitable for all ages and cooking abilities. I liked how keen they were to emphasise the ‘all hands on deck’ attitude and even get the little ones involved, although I’m sure the last thing many cooks want in their kitchen on Christmas Eve is the chaos of a kids baking lesson; we’re not all as cool, calm and collected as Mary Berry.

I’d love to try out the wonderful-looking gingerbread house, which seemed surprisingly easy to make and would surely impress even the most critical Christmas guest. As the program was only aired on the 23rd December, however, Mary and Paul hardly gave us much time to construct our edible house (or cathedral) before the Big Day came around. Nevertheless, Paul’s ‘Leftovers Pie’ is definitely a good way to use up any remaining turkey and stuffing, even though most of us may not be as keen as Paul to continue gorging after the inevitable Christmas Day food-coma…

In true Bake Off style, the show was full of informative historical facts, telling us the stories behind streusel, stollen, and the Scottish ‘Black Bun’. Although the latter may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was interesting to learn about its importance at Hogmannay, where the first visitor to a house after New Year is supposed to bring one of these Christmas cakes baked in pastry.

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The show was endearing, informative and full of Christmas spirit. Next year, though, it should perhaps be titled ‘Mary and Paul’s Christmas Baking Masterclass’. It may not rake in quite as many viewers, but it would avoid disappointmenting those looking to Bake Off‘s punning, puddings and kitchen tension to liven up the festive season.