Over-worked ingredients, a painfully drawn-out method and way too much sugar in the mix.
As recipes go, it should have been a flop. But the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. And, against all logic, millions found they cared passionately about the fate of cake-bakers whose fare they would never taste a single crumb of.
The Great British Bake-Off has hit the nation’s sweet spot. Three years in, it’s so popular it’s being bumped up a shelf to Beeb One in 2014.
Who ever thought the making of Madeleines and meringues would whip us into such a frenzy we’d place bets, bitch on social about confident Kimberley, Frances being the mistress of style over substance, Paul Hollywood wishing Ruby was HIS mistress and getting livid when famous chef Raymond Blanc (has he not got anything in the oven of a Tuesday night?) appeared to have spilt the milk about the winner of on Twitter?
GBBO fans thought Blanc’s citric crystals of criticism had revealed Ruby as the winner. But he’d simply thrown salt into the mix. Come Tuesday, it was Frances gushing about how utterly, butterly marvelous it was to be handed an ugly glass plate you wouldn’t even stand half a dozen shop-bought scones on. She’s a fashion designer for Pete’s sakes; why should she care if we like her cakes or not?
More to the point, though, why is the nation’s addicted to a task grannies, the W.I. and Mr Kipling quietly did for years?
It’s the human craving for a sugar-fix. Gazing at bakes so delicious they make you drool all over the coffee table and forget we’re in a recession, plus the artfully hyped competitive element and the vital self-raising agent - sugar paste characters artfully-crafted by the editors - have us dangling on a dough-hook.