The Great British Bake Off Christmas Masterclass 2014

Following on from the huge success of The Great British Bake Off Competition Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, the competition judges, now get together in order to show us how to bake some of our most popular Christmas favourites. This Christmas Masterclass included how to make festive treats such as delicious mince pies, puddings and cakes, while also demonstrating how to make some more unusual delights. The Masterclass however did not prove to be the ratings winner of the original competition but why?

Masterclass 2014

Masterclass 2014 Paul and Mary

The Masterclass of 2014 featuring Paul and Mary was a totally different animal to the competition we all know and love in that the judges were the only participants in the show. No Mel and Sue with their funny quips and innuendos, no bakers with all the drama and excitement they bring to the programme either. Naturally this offshoot isn't supposed to resemble in any way the original competition it is simply the judges offering us the benefit of their experience and knowhow in the Bake Off setting.

We do like Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood but as presenters they are somewhat dull and lack that certain something that is required in order to keep us interested even if they are making yummy Christmas treats. Take for instance James Martin who hosts Saturday Kitchen live on Saturday mornings on BBC One. He has a certain presence along with plenty of character and pizazz, while at the same time he makes us feel like we are welcomed into his kitchen where we will have fun as we watch him create delicious dishes.

Christmas Delicacies

Mary showed us how to make her delicious Christmas Cake. Great you may say as having a Christmas Cake at Christmas time is essential to the festivities. The problem is that in order to create Mary's masterpiece the demonstration could have done with being aired mid-November. Dried fruit needs soaking for a few days so that it is plump and juicy when we add it to the mixture. Days must be left between putting on the marzipan and the icing. We definitely needed to bake this cake earlier on in December for it to be ready for the festivities.

Pauls Kransekake

Pauls Kransekake

We learned about the history of the mince pie, this is the part of the programme we did enjoy. It's interesting to learn where traditional Christmas fare comes from, while at least the mince pies can be made in around an hour and they did look scrummy, even if you hate mince pies! Pauls Chelsea buns looked great too although telling us that through years of experience he knows just when he has kneaded the dough sufficiently isn't much use to us amateurs who haven't a clue what it should feel like.

Paul created another masterpiece in the shape of a tower called Kransekake. This is a traditional Danish creation that the Danes eat on special occasions, so not a tradition we Brits uphold. The tower of circular cakes, held together by icing, gradually gets narrower as we reach the top and looks very pretty although once again we couldn't envisage creating this masterpiece. Other recipes featured on the Masterclass included

  • Mary's white chocolate and ginger cheesecake
  • Pauls Saint Lucia buns
  • Paul's mincemeat and marzipan crown
  • Mary's French galette

The Final Analysis

Most people reckon that we mere mortals who are not culinary experts in the kitchen would rather watch something way out of our league being created by TV cooks and chefs than everyday ordinary food anyone can whip up. In a way that is true. It is more entertaining to see a fabulous Kransekake with all its intricacies being put together than the humble mince pie but don't try to tell us it is easy to do as we can testify it really is not!

Watching Mary and Paul bake such lavish fare passed on an hour but in the final analysis we feel that the programme failed to hold our attention. Mary and Paul as judges are superb but as lone presenters lack the charisma of other TV cooks. Maybe as fans of the Great British Bake Off we expected too much from our Masterclass pair as they are only after all a small part of what is a huge cast when it comes to the competition. No one can argue that Paul and Mary are masters in their own areas but as presenters passing on their knowledge and skills we simply found them dull, Sorry!