The search for the best independent bakery in the land returns with six weeks of tough competition, as 60 bakeries selected from all over Britain make their bid to take the ultimate accolade.
Each day brings an array of mouth-watering recipes, regional specialities and delicious treats as the bakeries showcase their true passion for what they do. From artisan bakers, to cupcake specialists, to pie makers; from family businesses to community enterprises; from youngsters just starting out in their baking careers, to bakers in their 80’s, every baker is putting themselves on the line to be scrutinised by judges Mich Turner and Peter Sidwell.
Between them the judges have over 35 years of baking experience: renowned cake maker Mich Turner has received an MBE for services to the catering industry, while award winning chef and artisan baker Peter Sidwell is one of the country’s leading bread experts. Together they’re looking for bakeries with passion and creative flair, willing to push themselves and their breads, bakes and cakes to new and exciting heights.
With the country divided into five different regions, the judges will set up a new regional judging HQ each week, to put bakeries through their paces in a series of tough culinary challenges. Each weekday, from Monday to Thursday, three bakeries from the region will go head to head. The bakeries must bring a selection of their wares for the judges to taste, before battling it out side by side in the HQ kitchen. After tasting, the judges will select the bakery that will be going through to Friday’s Regional Final.
In the first challenge, the bakeries set up a Baker’s Table at the judging HQ, creating a display of the best their bakery has to offer. Each bakery must nominate their Speciality Bake – the item that they believe makes their bakery special - for the first tasting. As well as delicious food, the judges will be looking for the product that really tells the story of that bakery, and truly represents their region.
The second challenge, the Wild Card Bake, is designed to test the bakeries’ creativity. All the bakeries have been tasked with creating an original bake incorporating an ingredient and a method chosen by the judges, and must now present the outcome. Whether it’s chilli and puff pastry, rosemary and bread dough, or lavender and shortbread, the judges are searching for inspiration and innovative flair – with some extraordinary results!
The final challenge sees the bakeries go head to head in the kitchen to make a bake of the judges’ choice – the Bakers’ Dozen. They have just two hours to a make precise 13 of the same bake, under the watchful eyes of judges Mich and Peter. All must follow the same recipe, but the bakeries have brought their own ingredients and can add their own creative flourishes.
With the clock ticking the pressure mounts; there’s nowhere to hide as the bakeries must present all 13 of the final bakes for the judges to taste – and quality and consistency are key.
Friday’s Regional Final sees the week’s four winners facing two tough tasks, working side by side and against the clock in the HQ kitchen. All must make an afternoon tea, with at least five sweet and savoury items, to wow the judges.
And the afternoon is rounded off with the Judge’s Choice Cake, where the four very different bakeries are handed the same ingredients and tasked with making the same technically demanding cake. Only one of them is going to go through to the last week in the series, National Finals Week.
National Finals Week kicks off with two days of tense high stakes challenges, as the final five bakeries slug it out for a place in the Grand Final. From baking Chelsea Buns for the Chelsea Pensioners, to creating one hundred sweet and savoury items for Henley Festival goers, only three can hit a high enough bar to make it through.
The last three bakeries now face a nail-biting marathon three day final, where every aspect of their skill as bakers is put to the test. From baking for profit at London’s Old Spitalfields Market, to creating an iconic bake to put their region on the map, to making a wedding cake for one special couple, every bakery is pushed to the very limit of their ingenuity and stamina – and only one can emerge victorious, to take the crown of Britain’s Best!
Monday 10 February 2014
It’s the first day of Finals Week and just five bakeries are left in the competition to find Britain’s Best. There’s no margin for error as judges Mich Turner and Peter Sidwell charge the bakeries with scaling up their performance in the Mass Catering Challenge. They’ve got just three hours to create two hundred sweet and savoury canapes to serve at a black tie reception for Henley Festival goers. But as the numbers go up, so does the pace – and for one bakery the competition ends here.
Tuesday 11 February 2014
It’s the second Semi-Final and four bakeries are competing for a place in the final by working to a brief in the Bespoke Bake. Their challenge is to create a new afternoon tea menu for some very discerning clients, the Chelsea Pensioners - to include a tasty loaf, a fondant fancy and the ultimate Chelsea Bun. But it’s a bunfight in the kitchen and only three of the bakeries can make it through to the Grand Final.
Wednesday 12 February 2014
It’s the first day of a marathon three day Grand Final and judges Mich Turner and Peter Sidwell are upping the stakes for the remaining three bakeries with the Market Challenge. The bakeries are tasked with creating a range of goods to sell to lunchtime shoppers at London’s historic Old Spitalfields Market. No one will be leaving the competition today, but the judges will be watching closely to see which of them can best turn their baking into cold hard cash.
Thursday 13 February 2014
It’s the penultimate challenge of the competition and the three remaining bakeries have their eyes on the prize. Today it’s the Iconic Bake: the judges are challenging the bakers to use every ounce of their ingenuity and creativity to come up with a new bake that best represents their bakery and will put their region on the map. It’s a chance to shine with a show stopping bake, but things don’t all go to plan.
Friday 14 February 2014
From sixty bakeries to the final three – the epic six week search reaches its climax with the final, ultimate challenge: the Wedding Cake. The three remaining bakeries must pull out the stops to create a cake for one happy couple’s brief. It’s a tall order for all, but only one can take the crown of Britain’s Best Bakery.