Cultural Capital 20 August 2015 What I learned watching the Great British Bake Off with a GBBO virgin Here's what happened when I watched Bake Off with my boyfriend who had never watched it before. It was bread week on the Great British Bake Off last night. Photo: Great British Bake Off Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up In case you didn’t get the memo, The Great British Bake Off is one of my favourite joys in life. Every year I wait for my TV to once again be filled to the brim with glutinous creations and fantastical sugar work. This week was bread week, and I was ready to watch the contestants prove themselves by rising to the challenge. Unfortunately, my boyfriend does not share mine and other normal people’s enthusiasm. In fact, he’s one of that strange breed who haven’t ever seen the show. “How can there be drama in baking? How can there be spoilers? I don’t understand!” Such was his line last week as I raved about amazing cookie boxes and chocolate gateau. Eventually, like Marie’s classic madeira, I cracked. It was time to take his Bake Off virginity. Here’s what I learned as we watched it together. Bake Off virgins talk too much while Queen Mary is speaking AS THEY GIVE SPECS FOR SIGNATURE BAKE: Him: “So is that the only specification they’re given?” Me, desperately trying to spit out words before I miss any more dialogue: “YES. BUT THEY’RE TOLD ABOUT IT BEFORE SO THEY CAN PRACTICE.” *A few bright moments of quiet* DURING TECHNICAL: Him: “What is a proving drawer?” *tension heating* Me, debating whether I should answer or apply my thoughts only to Mat’s sad baguettes: “Um it’s like a drawer you put your bread into so it rises.” Him: “Doesn’t bread rise in the oven?” Me, internally: “WAHHHHH.” Paul Hollywood is not a household name Him: “So if Mary Berry was a TV chef before then who is Paul Hollywood?” Me: “Um, like, a guy who makes loads of bread. And books about bread. And stuff. He made a TV series about pie.” (I mentally concede that my partner has made a really good point here.) Bake Off virgins think meringue would be worthy of a technical challenge Him: “So let me get this straight. For the second challenge they could be like ‘make a meringue’ and you would just have to make it? What if you’d never made meringue before?!” he asked, incredulously. Oh dear. Cue unnecessary flashback to the (successful) baked alaskas of 2014: Photo: BBC via/Independent Even Bake Off virgins can spot a baking innuendo (and they’ll point it out to you) Nadiya: “I’ve tried the snake loads of times and he just explodes... He’s enormous… After doing him six times the trick is to just keep him small to begin with.” Him: “That was the best innuendo by miles and it was completely accidental!” *le sigh*. Everyone can be hypnotised by the magic that is performed in the Bake Off tent Him: “Oh my daaaaays. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!.. Oh no… NO!! PAUL! HOLD UP THAT LION, PAUL!” NOW TRY TELLING ME THERE’S NO DRAMA IN BAKE OFF. And to conclude, a few short words from the latest convert: “I mean I don’t quite get the hype but it was pretty good to be fair. The stuff at the end was amazing – I didn’t know you could do that to food. Solid effort. Really hungry now.” › The Dying Grass shows the dark side of the American dream Helen Thomas is a freelance journalist and English student. She tweets at @helenthomascph Subscribe To stay on top of global affairs and enjoy even more international coverage subscribe for just £1 per month!