Who is Mary Berry, you ask? For the uninitiated, Mary Berry is the octogenarian doyenne of British baking. She is the yin to Paul Hollywood’s yang (or the one who sounds like Ringo, according to my husband), and, until very recently, the female part of the unbeatable team of professionals behind the Great British Bake Off (GBBO), which was one of the most highly rated television shows in England. Mary was also one of the hosts for a U.S. spin off called The Great Holiday Baking Show. Even without Paul, Mary was unbeatable.
Britain is the kind of place where the audience gets outraged when the show decides to use Paul’s recipe for scones rather than Mary’s (file under: There Will Always Be an England). But nothing could beat the outrage engendered by Love Productions, the production company of the GBBO, for having negotiated the rights away from the BBC to Channel 4, a commercial channel. Of the four main principals of the show, only one – “Ringo” – decided to make the move to Ch4 with the show. Ms. Berry and the two hosts, comedians Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, refused to go with the show.
Having watched all the of the available GBBO seasons, this week I discovered that there is a GBBO Master Class with Mary and Paul demonstrating some of the cakes, breads, cookies and pies that have flummoxed the intrepid bakers on the show. It’s such heaven to watch, that I decided that I am only allowed to watch the episodes as long as I am pedaling my exercise bike. That has gotten me on my bike with increasing regularity.
And you can learn about British sweets – things like Battenberg Cake and Simnel Cake and Victoria Sandwich – and how to make them.
Some things I love about Mary Berry:
- She loves sweets.
- She is always impeccably dressed with hair perfectly coiffed. (I love an octogenarian in jeans, a Hermes “H” belt, and a buttoned cardigan.)
- She has no problem slapping Paul Hollywood’s hand when he tries to lick the bowl.
- She’s a master baker.
Currently, Master Class is streaming on Netflix, and I might also point out that watching Mary and Paul chow down on some amazing confections has absolutely zero calories. Enjoy!
WRITTEN BY ROSEANNE
Roseanne Leto is a 25-year veteran of the TV industry. She has been head of East Coast Programming and Development for CBS, an Associate in Programs at NBC, and a Producer of many TV movies. When it comes to TV, she is picky, picky, picky, and despite her years in TV, Charles Dickens is still her bae. Follow her on Twitter @roxlet