What a relief. Pass me the bicarb.
The Great British Bake-Off reached its glorious, glossy, ganache-crammed climax on Tuesday.
After months of whipping and stirring (from the judges), the heat was on; three blokes had beaten the female competition and had to turn their big man-hands to pithiviers, fondant fancies and chiffon sponges.
It’s amazing what you learned from this show; so many techniques were explained. Plus I now know that fancies do not always come in boxes of six with Mr Kipling written across the top, that a pithivier is not a medieval toilet and it’s not only negligees that are made of chiffon.
But when John Whaite was finally revealed as the worthy winner, I let out my trousers as well as a sigh.
The Great British Bake Off first came to our screens in 2010 and the third series, which racked up 4.5 million viewers an episode, is credited with turning the nation on to the traditional skill which almost got buried by a mountain of flat and rubbery factory-made 99p Victoria sponges.
Millions now sport linear oven shelf burns on their forearms like badges of (mothers’) pride.
The revival is great news; baking is relaxing, fun, creative and satisfying. But by heck, it claps the weight on. Even winner John admits he put on a hefty stone and a half during the contest. And he’s a fit 23-year-old.
It’s especially bad for us lot in the menopause. This week (no coincidence, surely, that it comes in National Baking Week) it’s been scientifically proven that when you go through The Change, so does your waistline. Just about the time you think you’d like to get the baking bug, your oestrogen levels deflate, your fat cells multiply and your spare tyre inflates.
Throughout the series, I’ve had to exercise portion control; ration myself to occasional viewing only. Because the sight of all that soft, sweet, creamy vanillaryness (and that’s just Mary Berry) sets me on a lust-fuelled rampage for sweet stuff.
Cake; I must have cake. I sit there, watching the creation of some scrummy, buttery, melt in your mouth crumbly thing, all the while mentally ransacking the kitchen cupboards.
Come the ad break, I dash off to plunder the shelves for real. We never have so much as a biscuit in, so desperation drives me to think laterally.
A bit of jam smeared on a couple of Ryvitas has been known to do. On Bake-Off final night, though, the painstaking assembly of John’s divine-looking Heaven and Hell cake got me yearning for something rather more exotic. But what?
Judge Paul Hollywood, now a national heart-throb, would have been proud of my creativity; I ripped a meringue nest from a pack of shop-bought and rammed in a spoonful of low-fat creme fraiche.
Maaan, it hit the sweet-spot. And so much easier than trying John’s winning cake at home: the recipe runs for three A4 pages and involves 27 steps.
No menopausal woman could ever remember all that.