The Great British Bake Off

Beppe Giacobbe

God bless the English, who reject the shrieking-chef drama of reality TV with their smarter, gentler BBC show The Great British Bake Off. Set in an airy tent in the countryside, this charming cooking competition privileges technique over theatrics. As home bakers from across Britain build loaves of marzipan-covered Battenberg and golden pork pies with hot-water crusts, their love for the craft is palpable. Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood dispense lessons on everything from biscuits to the towers of caramel-dipped choux_buns known as _croquembouche, and the prize is fittingly refined: no money, no luxe sets of pots and pans, just the thrill of being crowned Best Amateur Baker. After devouring a few episodes, we can't wait to get in the kitchen ourselves to poach quenelles of meringue or sandwich a Victoria sponge cake with fresh raspberry jam.