Fluffed lines and washing up: The secrets of the Bake Off tent

Fair warning, we’re not going to tell you how Paul got his eyes like that


Great British Bake Off is back, bringing with it memes and young bakers galore.

We all know how they make the cakes. They do it on camera. But what about the bigger mystery: how they make the show.

So good news. Radio Times have revealed the secrets of the tent, including fluffed lines, washing up, and tons of supplies.

They film for at least 12 hours a day, but only a third of that is baking

On the first day of filming, contestants were filming in the tent for 16 hours, series four's Ali Imdad told The Birmingham Mail.

In fact, 12 hours is considered a "short day" by tent daddy Paul Hollywood.

However, they're not baking the whole time. For about eight hours each day, producers are getting "beauty shots" of the judges judging, the cakes looking good, or the bakers baking. Obviously, they need to get that nice piping action looking perfect.

Image may contain: Human, Person, Birthday Cake, Icing, Food, Cream, Cake, Creme, Dessert

A lovely beauty shot

Judges will film lines again if they get them wrong

The tent banter looks perfectly spontaneous, but it isn't always. "If someone fluffs a line during the judging, they will do retakes," says Ali.

It's not just conversation. Things like whisking are filmed again if they cameras don't quite catch it

“The baking is filmed as you do it by six cameras moving around the tent, though if they don’t catch something, like you whisking, you might have to do it again,” says Ali.

Every single bit of oven action is filmed

One thing you can't film over and over again is taking a bake in or out of the oven. Just think what it'd do to a meringue. So, every bit of oven action is meticulously filmed. In order to follow this golden rule, bakers must summon a producer every time they're about to put their creation in.

That's a whole extra stress you didn't know about.

Producers cook a Victoria sponge every day to test that the ovens still work

A baker's biggest nightmare would be turning up to do your showstopper and the oven just sitting there, doing nothing. To stop this, producers bake a Victoria sponge in each oven before the start of play, just to make sure.

Image may contain: Cornbread, Meal, Tablecloth, Confectionery, Sweets, Food, Bread, Human, Person

Prue does her own technical challenges

True to form, after Prue sets a technical challenge, she bakes it herself to see if it can be done. Sometimes it's years since she's baked them.

In fact, she goes further. “I quite often bake things after the show because I love it. I’ll get a recipe off one of the bakers and go and bake it,” Prue said.

The eating of the bakes is split between crew and bakers

When all is said and baked, there's the small matter of what to do with all the cakes. Do they go in the bin? Frozen and taken home in tupperwares? Disposed of in a tribute to Paul Hollywood's favourite film The Hurt Locker?

No, there's strict protocol, according to Faenia Moore, Bake Off's chief home economist. “It’s important for the bakers to eat what they’ve slaved over, so after each challenge I make up a ‘baker’s basket’ to go to their lunchroom," she told BBC Good Food.

After that, leftovers are given to the crew for lunch. "Everyone gets quite excited so you have to say: ‘Step back, we need to do this in an orderly fashion,’” says Moore.

The producers buy a metric fuck ton of ingredients

Much less nefarious than the nebulous Love Island producers, the crew behind Bake Off go out and buy unreal quantities of baking goods.

The 2015 series alone used 1,600 eggs, 130kg of flour, 150kg of sugar, and 95kg of butter, according to Radio Times.

However, contestants must source any unusual ingredients themselves.

Image may contain: Food, Plant, Human, Person

Look how Rahul stockpiles sugar here

Contestants get an allowance to buy ingredients

Apart from the producers' stash, bakers are given an allowance to source their own ingredients.

There is someone who washes up for 160 hours each series

No she won't move into your uni house. Her name is Iva Vcelak and in 2014 she got through 1,000 cloths cleaning up after the bakers.

The application process is tough

12,000 people apply with a form. 300-400 make it through to the first round of auditions, and have to bring two creations along with them. They're screen tested, and then 50-60 make it to the second round.

This is where it gets gruelling. The hopefuls are given a technical challenge to do on camera "to see if they can take and bake at the same time," head honcho Faenia Moore tells BBC Good Food.

Personality is good, but what decides it at the end is whether they can actually bake.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

These 33 Bake Off memes are so funny they’ll give you a soggy bottom

Meet the 2019 Great British Bake Off contestants, the youngest bakers yet

Take this Bake Off quiz and we’ll tell you if you’d get star baker