Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed several British films that I saw in the last couple of months. Jean read Lost at Sea, a collection of explorations on a variety of topics by Jon Ronson. Gaele reviewed four books: Lord of the Pies (audio) by Nell Hampton, A Daughter’s Christmas Wish by Victoria Cornwall, New Arrivals at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke, and The Woman Who Kept Everything by Jane Gilley.
I lost count of the number people who recommend The Great British Baking Show to me. It seems like a natural, right? Obviously, I’m entranced by all things British. My participation in Weekend Cooking is sporadic, now, but has been frequent in the past. How could I not want to see this show that combines two things that I love?
The problem is my weird physical and mental reaction to baked goods.
The physical damage is caused by sodium which promotes bloating and raises my blood pressure. It’s not obvious to most people, but many baked goods have a lot of sodium. In a conventional cake, cookie, or quick bread, there’s sodium in the form of salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
I do better with yeast breads, but only if they’re home made. Commercial yeast breads account for a significant portion of sodium intake for many modern Americans because manufacturers add so much salt — “healthy” whole wheat breads are the worst offenders. Even small bake shops add more sodium to their loaves than is required because Americans are used to salty bread.
Here’s the mental problem for me. All of the above doesn’t make me want baked goods any less. And, eating a little makes me want to eat a lot, even though I know it has a bad impact on my body.
Most of the time, I can keep a reasonable balance with careful techniques:
- I bake whole wheat bread with freshly ground flour in a bread machine
- Rick occasionally bakes brownies using no-sodium baking powder
- I bake yeast breads in cake-like flavors: pumpkin, applesauce, chocolate chip
- I use my yeast breads to make bread puddings
- I treat bakery displays as art work — beautiful to look at, but not something I touch
So, I’ve been really concerned about messing with my careful equilibrium here. I don’t want a TV show to suddenly make it difficult to stick to the few home made baked goods that work for me and develop irresistible cravings for cakes and cookies that mess up my body and mind.
But, it’s the Christmas season when pretty much everyone’s reasonable balance tilts a bit toward the indulgent side. Netflix curated a short two-episode “season” of The Great British Baking Show specials that showcase Christmas baking. So, I decided that I would watch just that much as part of my festive December.
As everyone predicted, I was completely charmed. The Great British Baking Show is extremely relaxing to watch. Who would have guessed? The competition makes it just exciting enough to keep up interest, but not so stressful that it raises the tension for the viewer. And, of course, everything is delightfully British with a friendly camaraderie among the bakers, who are as diverse as the British Empire once was.
The holiday episodes really captured the season, complete with Christmas jumpers (the British term for sweaters), fake snow, and lots of great decorations in the tent.
The holiday special episodes were the gateway drug for me. Now, I’m watching all the seasons of The Great British Baking Show that Netflix has to offer. The Great British Baking Show is also available via the PBS Passport, a perk of my membership to my local PBS station.
I have some hope that my fears of craving and overeating won’t come to pass. Nothing that is made on The Great British Baking Show is anything that I would try at home. Most items aren’t anything that I expect to have available after a typical restaurant meal.
The lack of opportunity to replicate the experience of eating the beautiful and delicious baked goods from the show have, so far, resulted in very little mental and no physical after-effects. Although, if anyone can recommend a place to get a Baked Alaska with mint-chip ice cream in St. Louis, do let me know.
Are you a fan of The Great British Baking Show?
I’ll link this post to Weekend Cooking tomorrow. Check out Beth Fish Reads every Saturday for Weekend Cooking with links to book reviews, restaurant reviews, recipes, and other culinary adventures.