It's back and you should be warned. The tent. The gingham altar. The fear of soggy bottoms.
The Great British Bake Off, off to its fresh start on Channel 4. I know you know this, but what you might not realise is why you should step away from your screen right now, because the Great British Bake Off can end up making you do all sorts of things. Things you wouldn't think you might ever do.
Here are seven real potential consequences of watching Bake Off for too long. You might:
Lock yourself in your kitchen
It's probably a well known symptom for any #gbbo follower. Bread week happens. Suddenly a giant lion head appears on screen. Or the Brighton Pavilion. Or a huge flower pot filled with even more huge flowers. All out of breads bien sur. If the lion wasn't frightening enough (I mean thinking about the amount of skill and creativity Paul Jagger had to master that day), then perhaps, finding yourself stuck to your kitchen worktop for hours trying to make one yourself, or staring at your baguettes to watch them rise evenly might.
Obsess about madeleines and macaroons
Or Religieuse choux pastry. Paris Brest. Marjolaine. You might obsess so much to reach perfection with any of these slightly unpronounceable treats that you could end up going on a masterclass just to nail it. Perhaps even with one of the bakers from The Tent.
After John Whaites won the third series of Bake Off in 2012, I really wanted to learn to make his "heaven and hell" mirror glaze show stopper. I love that cake. Well, I didn't get to recreate this showpiece, but I did learn a great deal more in his madeleines and macarons class. I also took away one of the best patisserie tip I still use now (the one about tucking in the piping bag into its nozzle before filling it up?). Times have moved on. John has has since graduated from Le Cordon Bleu. He's now open a beautiful new cookery and baking school, John Whaites Kitchen where you can learn all about bread for beginners, modern cakes or rustic French. Oh la la. Guess who's likely to book another class soon?
Graffiti food everywhere
I don't mean literally although... if you keep watching the show, you might find yourself doodling (cakes) on everything. Your cook books, your notepads, the back of an envelope, your own hand. Stop before you start sketching on your walls. Or perhaps not. You might become the next Banksy. Who knows. Until then, you can look up Tom Hovey's fantastic drawings for inspiration here. I have found them (and his generous advice through the tweetosphere) really inspirational and helpful to better my own drawings.
Lock horns with the best
You're a great baker yourself. You're watching the show thinking, yes, I could make that champagne bottle cake with the ice cubes and the silver bucket. Or that pork pie cake. I loved the idea of a pork pie that's a dessert by the way. I am so going to make this soon. Anyway, you start thinking, wondering, how good you really are. Now you want to find out. To measure yourself against the other bakers and see how far you could go. Next thing you know, you're filling in the application for next year's show. I know it can happen that quickly. I did it three times. Obviously not successfully (although one year I came a little closer...). But I found I learnt a great deal about myself just by applying. You've got to think about what you really like to bake, what you are best at, not so good at... it's a real eye opener. And I bet that when you make it inside the tent, you come out with some much priceless experience.
Quit your job
Now this one might not happen to you. But it's a real possibility. A lot of the amateur bakers from Bake Off have done this. And why not. Someone once told me that what most people lack is the self confidence to try something new. You can actually do it. You just need to dare doing it. I get it, it's scary. Try ditching corporate marketing for a an artisan cake business. But if the show gives you that little extra boost you needed to make it happen, then in my books it's a great thing.
Suffer from strong illusions
Week one and look how those contestants got out of the starting blocks. So impressive. A pork pie? Genius. A giant Ploughman's? Brilliant. And that champagne bottle, finished with ice cubes and a silver cooler. Wow. If you are anything like me, you'll already be on Pinterest, adding to your numerous cake boards. Thinking of the next Illusion cake you could create or would have created if you were in the tent. I probably would have chosen my chocolate chess board illusion cake. You get to play and eat the pieces, surely it doesn't get better than that?
Start an online revolution
At the end of the day, the most important point of the Great British Bake Off is baking, isn't it. It's all about the bakers, what they bake and how they bake it. More than that, it's about getting you to bake along. To give it a try. That's exactly what #Twitterbakealong has done. A bit of a home bakers revolution online. Started by The Baking Nana and her sidekick Rob Allen, this hashtag now brings together so many home bakers trying one of the challenges at home. You share pictures of your baked cake/bread/tart/petit fours. You share comments, tips and general cake happy banter. Twitter Bake Along carries on outside of Bake Off, so you'll have no widthdrawal symptoms. Phew. It's simply lovely.
So there you are. It could happen to you. All of it. After all it all happened to me.
I am of course intending all this in a tongue-and-cheek manner. I love the show and the fact that it encourages you to do something new. Whether it's a new recipe, a new class or a new career.
So are you brave enough to keep watching the Great British Bake Off now you know what you know?
I really hope so. Just do yourself a favour. Get equipped with suitable ammunitions. Bonne chance.