You “Knead” to Try Anyway

Recently, my nephew got me hooked on The Great British Baking Show, which I watch through Netflix. Have you seen it? This show has been on for years, and I just learned about it. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, it involves amateur British bakers competing in three baking challenges each week.

Their efforts, at least in season 1, were judged by Mary Berry, who writes cookbooks, and Paul Hollywood, a well-known chef. I wasn’t familiar with either person. They both frighten me. Paul has a piercing stare. Mary Berry makes me think of the “prunes and prisms” comment of Mrs. General in Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.

The judges and hosts (Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc) of The Great British Baking Show

Each week, one person is voted off. Standard reality TV stuff. Twelve started the show. I’ve watched several episodes of season 1, so I’ve seen several people voted off.   

If you decide to watch the show, I would advise you to have some baked goods on hand. Otherwise you’ll be extremely hungry.

What I love about the show is the fact that the bakers are told to bake something within a time limit, but aren’t given any other instructions. Like one week, they were told to make a Swiss roll. Another week, they had to make a “self-saucing pudding.” I would have stood there, staring stupidly at the hosts. But the bakers rose to each challenge using their creativity.

One week, one of the bakers threw a slight temper tantrum after a mishap with his dessert. Instead of showing the judges what he had, he tossed his dessert in the garbage, rather than present something flawed. The others watched, horrified, as he stalked away.

Actually, I can see why he did that. The judges never hesitate to tell the bakers what’s wrong with their creations. “This is a mess.” “This tastes burnt.” “You should have left it in five more minutes.” But because the bakers love to bake (and love to be on the show), they willingly put themselves out there.

I can’t help thinking of the process of writing. A writer sits down to write without being given any instructions. Oh, there are tips here and there on world building and creating memorable characters. But a tip can’t really guarantee that a book, a screenplay, or a poem will turn out well. After completing the work, he or she then might show the work to a beta reader or an agent or an editor and run the risk of scathing criticism. But a writer puts himself/herself out there, hoping someone will love his/her creation.

Have you ever thought about writing something totally outside of your comfort zone—like many of the challenges the bakers faced on The Great British Baking Show? You might fail or you might succeed. But does failure mean you shouldn’t try, even if you’re not sure about what you’re doing?

Like the baker who threw away his presentation, I’ve thrown away whole novels, because I thought their flaws were too great to fix. But with one novel at least, I’d like to start over with new characters. I still like the basic idea of the novel.

Watching The Great British Baking Show reminds me of the value of taking risks and trying something new, instead of always playing it safe. Even if I don’t exactly know how to do something, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try it.

How about you? Facing a challenge? What will you do?

Kitty thinks she could have been a contender on The Great British Baking Show. For obvious reasons.


Great British Baking Show logo found at thats-normal.com. Judges and hosts photo from pbs.org. Cake images from badartbistro.com. Pie image from clipartbest.com. Swiss roll from youtube.com. Composition book from dreamstime.com.

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40 thoughts on “You “Knead” to Try Anyway

  1. I’ve never seen this show, L. Marie. I love to bake, but I could never do it under that kind of pressure. As for writing, I tend to write more when under the pressure of a contract.

    • I think you’d like the show, Jill. I mentioned it to a friend who said she’d seen two episodes of it. And I’d never heard of it before my nephew mentioned it!

      I know what you mean. Deadlines and contracts are great motivators.

    • Agreeing with L. Marie, Jill. I think you would like the show as well. The bakers can be quite creative and come from all walks of life. They do get voted out, but, well, it’s a British show, so they are much more proper in being dismissed. 🙂

  2. I don’t watch food shows because I eat enough as it is. 😀 I’ve gone out of my comfort zone a few times. Mostly attempting horror because it’s a genre I don’t even like to watch because I get scared easily. So far, the Dawn stories have been entertaining and it’s helped me figure out some tension tricks. I’ve never thrown out an entire novel though. There’s one that I never published because it’s a sequel to the sci-fi/superhero one I wrote in high school. Not sure if that’s the same as throwing out completely.

    What’s a self-saucing pudding?

  3. Hehe! The show is so big over here that when the BBC lost it to a rival channel a few months ago it was all over the national news for days! I’ve never watched it, though I’ve watched a similar one, Masterchef, occasionally. As someone who has to stick slavishly to recipes and even then has no guarantee of success, appearing on one of these shows would be my idea of hell…

    • I thought I saw something about that on the internet. Oh my!

      Yes, I could never get on one of those shows. I don’t do much baking. I like to eat baked goods, however! My niece and nephew, who are the bakers in the family, watch it.

  4. My friend Alice LOVES this show, but I’ve never seen it. But as it pertains to writing, I’m all about trying and failing. Putting my work out there for consumption is the only way to grow as a writer and creator.

  5. I love this show, L. Marie, and it is the one cooking show (okay, baking show) that Tom likes to watch with me. I actually have thrown all the contents for a loaf of bread in the trash (and I’m a pretty good cook) and once an apron I was trying to sew (I can’t sew). I have since baked bread many, many times. Sewing an apron – not!
    Keep on writing. 🙂

    • I’m glad you watch it together. I’m not surprised that you enjoy it, since you love to bake with your grandchildren.

      I’m not someone who sews much. My mother taught me to hem something by hand. But I have never used a sewing machine. Perhaps one day I’ll learn.

  6. Although I’ve never seen the show, one of the Lego photographers I follow on Instagram lives in the UK and she creates scenes from it. So I’ve been following it secondhand and with little pieces and minifigures. My grandmother was a wonderful baker, with recipes from her family in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, but the gene was lost with my mother.

    • It’s on Netflix, Lyn, if you want to see it.

      My mother used to bake a lot when I was a kid. I used to like making chocolate chip cheesecake. I haven’t done that in years though.

  7. I am a huge fan of this show .. although I don’t bake!! It’s the humor, light heartedness and genuine love of baking by authentic peeps that make it worth watching. Thank you for spreading the word and the knead to watch 💕

    • 😀 I love watching them back and stress about how to make each baked good. I don’t do much in the way of baking. But I appreciate the efforts of others. 😀

  8. “Mary Berry makes me think of the “prunes and prisms” comment of Mrs. General in Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.”
    HA! Yeah, I watch it occasionally.
    I think Kitty would be a natural, don’t you?
    BTW: do try something new!!!!!

    • Kitty is indeed a natural, Laura.
      I can’t wait to watch the next episode in a few days. Life is really busy this week.

      I will try something new. Trying to decide what to try. 😀

  9. I’ve never heard of nor seen the show, L. Marie, but I’m pretty certain it would be a bad idea. I have an insatiable sweet tooth. 🙂 But I get your point. Getting past that fear of putting my stuff out there has been my challenge to face this past year. I’m whittling away at it, but it’s a tough one. I hope you continue to take risks as well!

    • The show would make you really crave bread and pastries, Phillip.

      I think we’ve all been there in regard to the fear of putting our stuff out there. With the advent of social media, so many people are commenting on everything and not holding back. So the risk factor is huge.

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