If the words "ready, set ... bake" don't send you scurrying into your kitchen to fire up the oven, then you need to get on the Great British Baking Show bandwagon.
Known as the Great British Bake Off across the pond, it was the most watched series on British television in 2014.
Now the fifth season of Great British hit has been picked up by PBS and it is airing on Sunday, right before the popular Downton Abbey.
The reality baking show started with a dozen contestants who have to meet each week's baking challenges — so far they've done cakes, biscuits (cookies and crackers to us Yanks), and breads — or face elimination. In March, one will be crowned best baker.
If a show on baking sounds tame compared to more arduous TV contests, rest assured the tension is dramatic.
The contestants — all home bakers, not professionals — get three opportunities per episode to impress judges Mary Berry, the queen of British baking, and Paul Hollywood, one of the UK's top artisan bakers and a bread expert.
Each week there is a signature challenge, in which the bakers use recipes of their choice on the same type of baked item; a technical challenge, in which they all have to bake the same bare-bones recipe with the given ingredients; and a showstopper challenge, where they can really dazzle and succeed — or go down in flames.
The bakers run the gamut from experienced Women's Institute veteran to near novice (a 17-year-old, the youngest contestant ever), male and female, all hanging on the words of Berry and Hollywood.
A piercing look from Berry, a single "it's a bit dry," and contestants crumble like stale bread.
Her death knell: "soggy bottom."
Hollywood doesn't need to raise his voice; his eyebrows will do. And that squint! Add an "over-baked" and it's enough to make a baker look faint.
They live to hear Berry say "simply scrumptious" or Hollywood say "the bake is good."
And what they bake will have you drooling ... no saccharin, all-frosting-and-no-flavor confections here. In the first episode, the contestants showed off their best Swiss rolls, then had to tackle Berry's cherry cake before finishing up with miniature classic cakes.
For the biscuits episode, the technical aspect to baking the Italian Florentines stumped a few, but some of the 3-D biscuit (that's cookie to you and me) creations were mind-boggling.
It's clear from just a few episodes (available for streaming online if you need to catch up) that the eventual winner will need both flair and consistency to take this cake. In the meantime, the bakers are likely to inspire you to dust off the stand mixer and tackle your own ambitious creations.
So ready, set ... bake! recipes
Here are some recipes straight from the Great British Baking Show to get you started. Please note that we've converted the British measurements.
Mary Berry's cherry cake, from Maryberry.co.uk, is a cherry sponge cake with a little extra texture from the ground almonds. Dusting the cherries with flour helps stop them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
Mary Berry's cherry cake
7 ounces glacé cherries
1 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup softened butter, plus extra for greasing
3/4 cup caster sugar, a fine granulated sugar, sometimes sold as "baker's sugar" in the U.S. You can also make it by grinding granulated sugar in a food processor or blender.
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
31/2 tablespoons ground almonds
3 large free-range eggs
For the decoration
3/4 cup icing sugar, also known as powdered or confectioner's sugar
1 lemon, juice only
1 tablespoon flaked almonds, toasted
5 glacé cherries, quartered
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch bundt tin with butter.
Cut the cherries into quarters. Set aside five of the quartered cherries for the decoration later. Put the rest of the quartered cherries in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry on paper towel and toss in two tablespoons of flour.
Mix all remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for two minutes. Lightly fold in the cherries. Turn into the prepared pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
For the icing, mix the icing sugar together with the lemon juice to a thick paste. Drizzle over the cooled cake using the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the toasted almonds and reserved cherries. Serves 10-12.
Petso pinwheel, a loaf, filled with homemade pesto, walnuts, roasted vegetables and feta, is made for sharing and would be nice at any picnic. It was baked by Richard in episode three of The Great British Baking Show.
For the dough
21/4 cups strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons fast-action yeast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
31/2 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk
Olive oil, for greasing
For the filling
1 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
1⁄3 medium butternut squash, cut into small strips
Olive oil, for drizzling
7 tablespoons feta
31/2 tablespoons shelled walnuts, broken into small pieces
For the pesto
31/2 tablespoons pine nuts
31/2 tablespoons Parmesan (or a similar vegetarian hard cheese)
10 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Large bunch basil
For the topping
1 large free-range egg
2 teaspoons pine nuts
Flaked sea salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
For this recipe you will need three baking trays, a food processor and a sturdy mug or glass. Put the bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast, butter, beaten eggs, milk and approximately 1 fluid ounce warm water in a large mixing bowl. Mix until combined. Add up to another 3½ fluid ounces warm water, mixing between additions until you have a soft dough.
Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large bowl and add the dough. Cover with cling wrap and set aside to prove for about an hour.
For the filling, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Put the onion, pepper and butternut squash onto separate baking trays, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, make the pesto. Heat a small, dry frying pan over a low heat. Add the pine nuts and toast until lightly browned. Add the pine nuts and all the remaining pesto ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.
To finish the bread, knock back the proved dough by kneading it for 20 seconds, then cut it into two. Wrap half in oiled cling film and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the remaining half of dough into a circle with diameter of approximately 12 inches. Let the dough rest for about five minutes — it will shrink back. Roll it out again to a diameter of approximately 13 inches and place on a large baking tray.
Spread three tablespoons of pesto over the dough and pile the roasted vegetables, feta and walnuts over the top in layers, making the layers slightly deeper in the center. This will form the base of the bread.
Roll out the remaining dough. This will make the top layer.
Brush the edges of the base with a little water and carefully lift the top layer onto the base.
Use a sharp knife to trim the dough into a neat circle (approximately 12 inches diameter). Place a small bowl over the filling. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 equally-sized strips radiating from the bowl. Carefully twist each strip twice and cut the ends into points. Press the end of each strip onto the baking sheet to stop them unravelling while they prove. Set aside to prove for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For the topping, brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle the pine nuts, salt and pepper in the center. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown. Check after 15 minutes and cover the twists with aluminium foil if they are browning too quickly. Allow to cool before serving. Makes 1 large loaf.