Britain has gone mad for baking. An incredible nine million viewers watched the final of The Great British Bake Off in October 2013, the most views BBC Two has drawn ever. No wonder the Beeb has decided to move the show to BBC One when it airs again later this year.
We’re not just watching people bake though in our millions, we are doing it for ourselves. Sixty per cent of adults say that they enjoy baking at home. Nine million of us are baking more at home than we did a year ago. The sale of all baking products has shot up by 60 per cent and that includes everything from flour to those beautiful free standing mixers which retail for over £400.
So why do we as a nation love to bake? It can’t really be to save money, although many suggest that it is. Surely it is cheaper to buy cakes, pies and biscuits in supermarkets than to make them yourself from scratch? But eating home baked food is better for us, there can be no doubt about that. We can control what goes into our cakes and pastries, the freshness and the quality of the ingredients.
Most of all though, we have turned to home baking in our millions because it is fun. We enjoy the satisfaction of creating something delicious for family and friends to eat and we’re finding just spending time in the kitchen relaxing, a great antidote to modern life.
You can’t use your computer when your hands are covered in flour and sticky dough. Kneading dough can be very meditative and the idea that we are nurturing those close to us with wholesome, homemade offerings can make us feel good about ourselves too. And isn’t it wonderful to fill your kitchen with the smell of baking?
What do you do though if you adore baking cakes but can’t find enough appreciative people to share them with you? You can join the Clandestine Cake Club and share your cakes with other like-minded bakers. There are 160 branches all over the country and they work in the same way that book clubs do. There is often a theme, say new recipes or recipes from America. You bake a cake, go to the club meeting which is often in a local tea shop or café, you share your creation and you talk cake.
The most popular cakes baked in British kitchens today are the classics: Victoria sponge, carrot cake and coffee and walnut. Go on, get baking too!