The Great British Bake Off Masterclass: Review

The Great British Bake Off Masterclass, Monday 22nd October, BBC2, 7pm

Now ratings juggernaut The Great British Bake Off has finished, the show’s spin-off series featuring judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry shows us all how baking really should be done. It’s a nice idea, but without the suspense of the main competition (not to mention the light-hearted comic touch of Mel and Sue), The Great British Bake Off Masterclass is found seriously wanting.

What’s the point of life without taking risks? The Wright brothers never had pilot licenses after all. Hollywood and Berry are affable enough, but the show is strangled by its perfections. There’s no chance of a culinary cock-up, which makes for very dull television. Masterclasses is the DVD extra no one wants to watch. The food looks delicious, but cookery shows are ten-a-penny and the show doesn’t have a USP. Viewers are emotionally invested in The Great British Bakeoff proper to see how the contestants get on. TGBBO Masterclass exists merely to fill the space in the schedules between repeats of Eggheads and Top Gear.

Hollywood and Berry are a fun double-act and appear to genuinely get on with one another, which is a refreshing change to the ego-driven in-fighting usually badly-concealed on TV. Hollywood is a baking maestro, producing a mean eight-strand plaited loaf and some delicious rum babas – but my inner-cynic suspects that on at least one occasion less-than-perfect-looking baking delights would have been binned for more aesthetically pleasing alternatives.

Mary Berry bakes a treacle tart and a crème caramel, causing an over-excited Hollywood to wheel of platitudes along the lines of “That’s great Mary!â€? and “This is magnificent!â€? The judges don’t tend to play down each others’ achievements and their congratulatory back-patting grates: they’ve both made careers out of baking, you’d expect them to bake their own recipes to perfection.

Every now and then one of the genial hosts pops up with some baking tips. Hollywood demonstrates how to squirt cream out of a piping bag, which could easily be misconstrued as a crude visual metaphor to the casual viewer. Either way, he looks like he’s had a lot of practice.

Hollywood revealed that bread kept in the fridge will stale three times quicker than bread kept in a bread bin, so you learn something new every day. Saying that, it is probably the dullest thing I’ve learnt about since my GCSE algebra classes.