Has your kitchen suddenly acquired a new whisk? Have sprinklings of self-raising flour appeared upon your work surfaces? Or are you being proudly presented with cakes, tarts and pastries that look vaguely like they could be from a bakery?

Chances are it has something to do with The Great British Bake Off, whose return to our screens has inspired fans to switch their ovens back on.

The mouth-watering BBC series, which packs into each episode enough calories to make up five times your recommended daily allowance, fired up again this month and the second episode last week saw more than 4.2million tune in.

the great british bake off

The BBC2 series sees 12 hopefuls battle it out to be crowned the nation's best amateur baker under the expert eye of no-nonsense judges Mary Berry, and Paul Hollywood, a former chef at London's Dorchester Hotel.

Our nation's obsession with tantalising our tastebuds, watching animated chefs cook up feasts in front of us, while we cheat a little ourselves - scoffing down yesterday's left-overs or feeling proud of our ready meal, doesn't seem to be abating any time soon...

Even reality show supremo Simon Cowell has jumped on the band wagon of the tasty TV market, with his recent plans to launch a show called Food Glorious Food for ITV. It's expected to star Loyd Grossman, who - as cooking show fans will remember - was the first presenter of MasterChef and now fronts a delightful range of pasta sauces, stocked in all good supermarkets.

The show (which hopefully won't include Cowell putting Ant and Dec near a wok) promises to scour the country in search of the best family recipe. The winning dish will be sold in Marks & Spencer and there is a £20,000 prize for the cook. Tantalising, don't you think?

Meanwhile, glutinous chefs The Hairy Bikers have been freshening up their act by bringing us a less artery-blocking series named The Hairy Dieters.

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But for those still hooked on the sugar-high of seeing syrup seductively poured over perfectly fluffy pancakes, or strawberries covered in full-fat whipped-up-cream, do not fret - The Great British Bake Off is back tonight (Tuesday) and it’s all about TARTS.

Tartes tatins, treacle tarts and elaborate fruit tarts, all techniques with challenges to discombobulate the contestants, and there's even an intertwined lattice top for the technical challenge... who'd have thought watching people get worked up over a over a pastry finish could be quite so entertaining?

PHOTOS: Contestants obsessed with cakes...

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    Stuart Marson-Smith

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    Sarah-Jane Willis

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    Natasha Stinger

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    Peter Maloney

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    Manisha Parmar

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    Danny Bryden

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    Brendan Lynch

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    Cathryn Dresser

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    Victoria Chester

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    John Whaite

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    James Morton

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    Ryan Chong

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