I'm not good at baking.......though if I'd watched The Great British Bake Off at a formative age I reckon I'd be considerably better as the two judges specialise in informing and helping - a welcome change from most 'reality' shows.
It is a wholesome programme - with the possible exception of Brendan oiling his forearms - and one that gives me a great deal of pleasure even if to this day I can't see how you are supposed to get a hot water crust case off a wooden dolly after putting it in the fridge.
I use a big jam jar and fill the case while it is still a little warm. It needs sharp work with the greaseproof and string, but it works for me.
It came as no surprise to learn that the BBC have been selling the programme round the world....it's a winning formula, combining home baking and professional standards in a friendly atmosphere and deserves to do well, but today I read in the papers that the formula has been sold to a French TV chain who plan, of course, to alter it for their home market.
No tent with rain lashing down outside....but an orangerie.
No flatbreads, or wellingtons, or pork pies...but patisserie.
Meringues...and, inevitably, macarons.
When groups of friends from the U.K. visited us in France the women could be seen loading up with gold ribboned boxes of things featuring chocolate ganache, fruits and creme patissiere, which the men would inevitably devour before condemning them as fartarse fancies, two mouthfuls of nothing with a whopping price tag.
So they won't be watching, then.
I don't think I will be either despite the best efforts of a Paris based Irish cookery book writer called Trish Deseine who informs us that French amateurs will probably come in to the show with a better base of skills.
'There is a level of understanding and complexity that you don't have with British home cooking.'
She doesn't mean to be detrimental, you understand,
'but it is because of the relative maturity of the food culture in both countries.'
She also believes that French home cooks are better than their British equivalents.
While I imagine that she has mastered the culinary arts, it is clear that she has also mastered that art essential to success in France...what Private Eye used to refer to as the ancient art of Arslikhan.
The decision to concentrate on patisserie is, to me, yet another example of the Paris/Provinces split....the antithesis of The Great British Bake Off where traditional baked goods are not despised but
I lived outside Paris...well outside....and ladies in the provinces bought their patisserie from the shop....but made their traditional dishes at home.
A tarte aux pruneaux....like a shortbread with a layer of prune puree in the middle.
A galette paysanne, where a yeast dough enriched with sugar, rum and creme fraiche is rolled and turned like puff pastry, emerging golden from the oven to be eaten with fruit compote.
A brioche vendeenne, a plaited enriched yeast dough flavoured with rum or orange flower water and light as a feather.
A tourteau fromage, a base of shortcrust pastry filled with a mixture of fromage blanc and eggs...cooked until the dome is black.
And not just sweet things, either....
A gateau de Paques, veal and ham pie but with a mix of pork, rabbit and pigs liver surrounding the boiled eggs.
A tarte au Maroilles, think quiche, but using the high smelling cheese from Maroilles in the north of France mixed with beer and creme fraiche.
A flamiche aux poireaux, quiche again but filled with leeks.
And anyone who has eaten potato pie from the Berry region will know how the housewives could make a belly filler into a sheer delight.
Anyone who lives or has a holiday house in France will have their local favourites and wouldn't it be much more interesting to see regional baking specialities being showcased than to assist at the birth of yet another macaron?
I suggest that the best way to counter the claims of Trish Deseine would be for the British contestants to produce a Bombe Alaska in the shape of Joan of Arc.....and flambe it.
On your marks... get set... bake!
Baked alaska joan of arc flambeed.