I worry about myself sometimes. Even when faced with lavish piles of cake, I still home in on the words. The Great British Bake Off has given our national lexicon far more than a soggy bottom. Here is my take on the scrumptious language of cake.
It’s jolly rude…
The innuendo! Goodness me. The splendid Mel and Sue (with some help from naughty Mary) have brought back the language of the Carry On films, and what could possibly be more British than seaside postcard humour? Of course, “soggy bottom” has already entered the British consciousness, and in this series, we’ve had a jolly romp through plums, buns, nuts, tarts and er, cracks. It’s back to the old “naughty but nice” cream cakes campaign of the early eighties.
We can all sound like experts
I love this about this sort of show. It allows us to pretend we’re experts by giving us the language. I can talk about “even bakes” just like Mary and Paul can, and shake my head knowingly when the dough simply wasn’t given long enough to prove. And to sound like proper bakers, we all casually drop in a reference to “crem pat”.
(See also: talking about non-standard construction with Martin and Lucy; shaking your head with Kevin McCloud; savaging a CV with Claude.)
It’s very definite
Suddenly, things that don’t usually use one have the definite article. It’s like being French. “The bake wasn’t good”, frowns Paul. The bake. The rise. The prove. It makes them sound rather menacing, as if these things have taken on a life of their own.
There are random new cake words
The Bakes themselves can be splendidly esoteric. I have small kids: I bake cupcakes and not much else. Now – wow! I have a whole new vocab of cakes I’ve never heard of. Mokatines, entremets, and the impressively bonkers tennis cake. I still can’t pronounce millefeuille, but was pleased to hear that no one else can either.
It can be beautiful
Nadiya’s speech at the end of the 2015 GBBO final had the nation welling up. She may have become famous for her wonderfully communicative face, but her words are equally expressive.
“I’m never gonna put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never gonna say I can do it. I’m never gonna say ‘maybe’. I’m never gonna say ‘I don’t think I can’. I can and I will.”
As lovely and reassuring as a freshly-baked sponge.