A Cambridge term is basically the same as the Great British Bake Off

This program is what our story would look like if it was written in patisserie cream.

bake off baking british

If a list was made of the institutions that this nation is most proud of, the Great British Bake-off and the University of Cambridge would surely sit side by side near the top.

The parallels are uncanny.

The Bake-Off and Cam are both as beloved for their Britishness as Liz, Argos and tutting

The Bake-Off and Cam are both as beloved for their Britishness as Liz, Argos and tutting

If you replace cakes with essays, the basic set-up of GBB is eerily familiar. The process begins with a long and secret-hand-shakey application process to find a collection of middle-class people with a very specific skill set and a hopeless level of geekiness. These people are told that they are special and relocated to twee surroundings. Then the pressure is cranked up to the point where you could make a documentary about how stressed they get.

Like your life, except delicious

Like your life, except delicious

Every week the chosen few are set a near impossible task to do and the nation watches from its armchairs, saying “Ooh I couldn’t do that”.

The timings are incredibly tight – and after only twenty minutes of quality broadcasting, the contestants are staring at their elaborate marzipan creations probably contemplating running out of that marquee, over the Somerset hills and far, far away. All of the emotional stages of botching an essay are all played out on our screens in the incarnation of asymmetrical fondant fancies.

Sue is like that friend who won’t stop texting you whilst you’re trying to churn out that essay. Look at her perusing the sponge batter, making obvious puns about soggy bottoms, whilst poor Flora is struggling to keep her shit together as it is.

Paul Hollywood has the same malicious superiority as an old-school supervisor. That crusty kind of academic who considers having to teach undergraduates an insult to his intelligence. The contestants nominally respect him, but also believe has a seat reserved in Hell. Whether challenging the structural integrity of charlotte russe or plunging a disapproving fork into the belly of a fallen soufflé, Paul’s aura of criticism is all too familiar.

fun to hate

Fun to hate

As the camera pans to his cruel blue eyes, you bet the same looks was on Professor Whatshisname’s face when slapping a big red ‘x’ through an entire paragraph of yours last month.

The Hollywood handshake is akin to getting a “well done” in the margin – the kind of recognition the likes of you or I can only dream of.

Both national treasures also teach you cool specialist language which you can use to impress in social situations. crème patisserie, choux buns, proving oven. Pennying, DOS, matriculation.

The spectrum of human emotion is captured in these eleven episodes of fondant icing and greaseproof paper. Nadia looks as if she is going to cry the whole way through the series (even when her chocolate and peanut cheesecake wins her star baker) like I do, the whole way through term. On the other hand, the highs are almost giddy when the hard work pays off and Mary Berry goes in for another slice of that delightful European sweetbread.

Mary would approve

Mary would approve

Even more like our beloved university, baking in the Great British Bakeoff does not prepare you for the harsh realities of baking in the real world. Nobody ever does the washing up. Mary never gets fat. Meringues the size of a four-year-old child are erected without anyone raising questions over the expense, or the risk of type two diabetes. Like cosseted cantabs, the contestants are going to leave the show without the proper skills needed to make a career out of baking, like how to file tax returns or find the best deal on a second-hand aga.

But the biggest similarity to Cambridge – and coincidently the reason this program is so comforting to watch – is that all of the dramatic moments are caused by ultimately irrelevant problems. Most of things that seem like big breaks or heartaches in a Cambridge term do not actually matter.

at the end of the day, work woes are just as much a first world problem as a cracked jam roly-poly

At the end of the day, work woes are just as much a first world problem as a cracked jam roly-poly

When a sense of perspective is re-gained in the holidays, you realise that nobody cares if you were elected vice-treasurer of the committee for your college’s May Ball, and the world is unmoved when your ADC production only gets 2* from Varsity. But that doesn’t stop those problems feeling real at the time, just as real as Tamal’s anguish when Paul slated the use of pomegranate in a chocolate torte. The texture was too gritty, apparently.

In fact, if you are feeling philosophical and hungry, you could legitimately watch re-watch the series as a cautionary tale against getting bogged down in the Cambridge bubble.

Saying that though, if you have enough enthusiasm for the bake-off to justify reading to the end of this article, then you really have let your highly educated mind go to waste over the summer.

This article wasn’t sponsored by Fitzbillies.