TV Club: All’s Well That’s Well-Proved as the Holiday Baking Show concludes

There’s a central contradiction at the heart of the Bake-Off format. On the one hand, it positions baking as a space of technical skill and precision: with the Technical challenge, and with the exacting standards of the judges, it expects a certain level of consistency in the bakers’ performances. But on the other hand, it also wants the bakers to experiment, to try new things and push the Signature and Showstopper bakes in exciting new directions.

From a competition perspective, I have to think this can be frustrating: the risk/reward balance is constantly shifting from week-to-week, and from challenge-to-challenge. But it also just embodies what baking is: you have a recipe, but that recipe is ultimately a chemistry experiment, just waiting to be fiddled with for different results, or adjusted wildly to take the bake in an entirely different direction. I spent this evening preparing for tonight’s …

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