Consumers love a baking competition and shows like the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) are a big hit - on both sides of the Atlantic. From Crazy Delicious to Bake Off: The Professionals, the programmes offer respite from a stressed-out world, a bit of light-hearted drama, sometimes a few baking tips and often angst over creations, but always a platform to explore one’s own creativity.
The first episode of GBBO was aired on 17 August 2010, pulling in an average audience of 4.3 million.
“It was the most popular show in the slot with 29% of all viewers tuning in to see the new intake of bakers,” a Channel 4 spokesperson told the media.
“The show was also a massive hit with young audiences with 48.7% of 16-34 year olds watching the show.”
GBBO has returned for its 14th series, with a slight ratings dip (4.3 million) for the premier episode compared with 2021’s 4.4 million viewership, but these figures don’t include streaming figures. The show is just as popular among American fans, who have been able to tune in since 2015, when TV network PBS began broadcasting the show. It’s also available on Netflix, but known as the Great British Baking Show, as the term ‘bake off’ is a registered trademark of General Mills’ Pillsbury business.
While the show has prompted an increase in the number of home bakers, more notably, it has inspired home bakers to turn their passion into a side hustle. According to data from online insurance broker Simply Business, the number of home baking businesses rose by 230% between 2019 and 2021.
“The Great British Bake Off is a mainstay of UK television and has already inspired thousands of bakers across the nation to rise up and start their own independent business,” said CEO Alan Thomas last year.
“In every region [of the UK], we’re seeing a year-on-year increase in the number of home baking and cake maker and decorator businesses who are turning their passion into a business.”
National Baking Week
Before the advent of the Bafta-winning show, though, Pyrex was motivating to get Brits into the kitchen and launched the National Baking Week in 2007 to encourage everyone to have a go at baking.
Although no longer at the helm of the annual event, the oven-safe glassware brand is still very much one of the frontline companies punting the celebration, along with other bakery suppliers like Stork, Billington’s, Allinson, Kenwood and BakeAway, among others.
National Baking Week runs from 15-21 October to capitalise on the home baking craze at its peak (thanks to GBBO) and invites everyone who believes they are star baker material - from kitchen newbie to master home pâtissier - to ‘bake!’
The week-long event is a celebration of the art and science of baking, the importance of tried-and-tested traditional skills and the creativity that comes with experimenting in the kitchen. It also encourages individuals to embrace their inner baker, support local and connect with others through hashtags. Cakes, bakes, pastries and everything inbetween are expected to take over the X (formerly Twitter) timeline for the week as people share their showstoppers with the hashtags #NationalBakingWeek or #N.B.W.
Baking through the ages
Undoubtedly, many will try their hand at replicating some of the treats seen on GBBO, but latest data shows TikTok to be the biggest source of stimulus for 55% of Gen Z Brits.
Baby Boomers remain steadfastly conventional, with 64% turning to a recipe book for inspiration and instruction.
The data - released by BakeAway - also reveals that 74% of Gen Z and Millennials think baking from scratch is too fussy and takes too long.
In fact, 96% of Gen Z admit to regularly using readymade pastry and doughs. This does mean this time-sensitive demographic are more unlikely to give GBBO recipes a go.
Conversely, only 56% of Boomers avoid baking from scratch and with this cohort flying the flag for the traditional baking methods, versions of Paul Hollywood’s Pork Pies or Prue Leith’s Custard Creams are sure to make their appearance.
Despite these generational differences, National Baking Week represents the perfect opportunity for the family to get together. According to BakeAway’s research, baking is cherished as a family bonding experience, with 73% of Brits noting it allows them to spend more time with loved ones.
- Challenge yourself to try a new recipe or technique.
- Host a baking party.
- Share your baking knowledge and tips on social media or with your local community.
- Support local bakeries.
- Contribute your baked goods to local charities, schools or community events.
- Offer bakery workshops or classes to teach others the art of baking.