Over the past few months, I’ve extended my socially-distanced circle to my closest friends and have spent Saturday evenings at their house. We talk, drink wine, eat popcorn, and watch shows. A few weeks ago, I got the honor of picking the next series, and when I saw the latest season of The Great British Bake Off, I insisted we watch it.
Oh, the looks I got from my friends! But, they stuck to their promise of my choice. Charging their glasses, they settled in for an hour of boredom with the consolation of a good wine.
They got hooked. The techniques and creations fascinated them, as well as a completely new vocabulary. The search functions on their cell phones got a workout. Above all else, they couldn’t believe how nice the contestants were to each other. We watched the second show, and every weekend during dinner, we talked about the episodes in anticipation of what we’d later see.
Last Saturday, we realized the final approached, and felt a certain sadness to be saying goodbye to these home bakers from across the Atlantic that we’d grown attached to. Not only that, we were going to miss the feel-good atmosphere of that competition, where opponents helped each other with last minute preparations and hugged their goodbyes with evident sincerity. How would we cope without our Bake Off?
We launched a plan, a way to say farewell and honor the spirit we’d observed. Each of us would bake something, and after contemplating our options, we decided each would bake two somethings. Then the concept evolved to having a Dessert Dinner, and the menu included: orange cake, coconut cream pie, cream puffs, cherry clafoutis, chocolate caramel macarons, and banana cream pie.
All day Saturday, there were flurries of texts about certain ingredients, methods, and baking times, all in the spirit of cooperation we’d witnessed on the show. My friends took the time they’d witnessed and paid attention to presentation when setting the dinner table (although we did decide to add a platter of fruit to try and make it seem a little healthy). We all ate a small portion of each dessert, and could appreciate the efforts of the judges when they had a dozen bakes to taste, claiming we were too stuffed to try the last one of six but powering through it anyways. After declaring all the dishes wonderful, which they truly were, we watched the semifinal and final episodes despite our sugar highs and lows, ending the evening satisfied that the best baker had won because all the contestants were so happy about it.
The whole multi-week experience had brought us a sense of joy, and we didn’t want to let it go. We decided two things before the final credits finished rolling on the screen. First, the Dessert Dinner would become an annual tradition, to be held the Saturday evening before Father’s Day. And second, with no dissention, we’d start watching another season next Saturday.
I have a feeling another Dessert Dinner will happen sooner than planned.