Imperial echoes in GBBO

A headline in The Independent caused us cause for concern, if only briefly.

“Bake Off 2018 final review: Rahul joins an illustrious list of imperial bakers”.

That was the headline this morning in an article in The Independent. We read on:

“Edd Kimber, Joanne Wheatley, John Whaite, Frances Quinn, Nancy Birtwhistle, Nadiya Hussain, Candice Brown and Sophie Faldo… The next name in that proud, long, illustrious list of imperial bakers, like a litany of popes or presidents, is… Rahul Mandal, a coronation watched, as in 1953, by a nation in rapt attention.”

Phew! It seems the headline was referring to the bakers not the measurements used in the baking. Enquiries among family members who watched the show confirmed this to be the case.

Which is not surprising.

Unlike the US tradition of cooking which relies much on volume – cups, tbsps, tsps and the like – British cooking is based more on measurement by weight. Perhaps the simplicity of metric measures helped to ensure a smooth transition from imperial, beginning the 1970s.

That transition is now complete. Published recipes, for example in Radio Times or the London Evening Standard, are normally metric. Cook books avoid dual measures – the rounding involved in conversion can destroy a recipe. And youngsters are now unfamiliar with measuring in fractions or ounces (so, how many are there to a pound?) and fluid ounces (16 to a pint or perhaps 20?).

The article in The Independent concludes by asking, “Is the point of the show the personalities as much as the pastries and pasties?”

Yes, on GBBO a simple, rational and universal measurement system seems to be taken for granted. And for those who have never heard of it, the Great British Bake Off, or GBBO for short, is a cooking programme formerly on BBC TV and now on Channel 4.

One thought on “Imperial echoes in GBBO”

  1. Nice to see all those ‘thumbs downs’ showing this hits home, the icing on the cake so to speak.
    Cooking is indeed one area where SI is so much of an advantage, and imperial clumsy and difficult to ‘downsize’ or ‘upsize’ a recipe.
    Anyone who still says they find imperial better or easier are frankly talking nonsense and quite clearly never even tried to use SI.
    Maybe this could even catch on across the pond, strange thing do happen.


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