The beginner's guide to Great British Bake Off

By Daniel Rosney
Newsbeat reporter

  • Published
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry
Image caption,
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry - they can bake

Great British Bake Off is returning to our screens for a sixth series.

Some people think it's a big deal. Last year's final, which saw Nancy Birtwhistle crowned winner, was watched by 12.3 million people.

It was the most-watched non-sport programme on British television in 2014.

Why have we suddenly become a nation of bakers and what exactly is a soggy bottom?

Here is Newsbeat's beginner's guide to the Great British Bake Off, written by a beginner.

What happens?

Image source, PA
Image caption,
These are this year's Bake Off contestants. Those things they're wearing are aprons. Baking can be messy.

Twelve people compete to be Britain's best amateur baker.

Each week they are given three challenges: a signature bake, a technical challenge, and a show-stopper.

If what they bake is good they stay and if it's not they go.

How much do they win? Nothing.

Instead the winner is awarded a cake-stand (a stand to put cake on) with the words Great British Bake Off on it.

They just love to bake, apparently.

The presenters

Image caption,
This is Sue and Mel. They don't bake. They eat cake.

Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, otherwise known as Mel and Sue.

They present the programme and are sort of like social workers for bakers.

It gets pretty stressy, but everyone seems calmer and more collected when they're talking to Mel and Sue.

The judges

Image caption,
This is Paul and Mary

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are the Simon and Cheryl of Bake Off.

They are the judges. Paul likes to think he's the bad guy, but Mary's criticisms cut deeper.

Don't be put off by her floral jackets.


Last year it all kicked off.

In week four the bakers were asked to make a baked Alaska. It's a show-stopper which involves putting ice cream in the oven.

A man called Iain had his setting in the freezer and a lady called Diana took it out to make room for hers.

Iain had a meltdown and threw his Alaska in the bin and had nothing to show the judges. He was subsequently eliminated.

More than 800 people complained to the BBC claiming Diana had sabotaged Iain's chances.

What is a soggy bottom?

Mary goes on about it a lot. It's basically when you the pastry at the bottom goes a bit soggy.

Mary doesn't like her pastry soggy. She likes it hard.

NOTE: Baking is full of words which are completely innocent, but can sound a bit rude if you have a dirty mind. Nuts, baps, you get the idea.

After baking off

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Nancy Birtwhistle won the show last year

The winners have had varying success in the baking world.

Some have started cooking schools.

Others have released cook books and appeared on This Morning.

I still can't believe they go through all the baking drama for zero dollar at the end of it.

Bake-off Britain

An estimated six million people have taken part in charity bake sales over the past year, thanks to Bake Off.

It's most popular amongst those aged between 25 and 34.

The Charities Aid Foundation say the programme inspired people to raise an estimated £185m for good causes last year.

I guess Britain is a nation of bakers.

Image source, Reuters

The Great British Bake Off is on Wednesday 8pm on BBC One.

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