Either you’ve been living on a desert island for the past few years, or you’re aware that the nation's favourite TV show, The Great British Bake Off, has taken the country by storm.
With the 2015 final attracting a record audience of more than 13 million viewers (making it the most watched TV show of the year), will the return of the Great British Bake Off tempt you to dig out your oven mitts and three, two, one...BAKE!
If so, we’ve come up with some great tips to get you into the kitchen, working on those soggy bottoms.
1. Don't take on too much too soon
As much as the final of The Great British Bake Off might have you planning sugar glazed, three-tiered baking masterpieces, newcomers need to master the basics before they can move onto the really interesting stuff. If you can’t bake a simple victoria sponge or lemon drizzle cake, how are you going to make the foundations of your chocolate waterfall cake?
Find some simple recipes that are fun and cheap to make, so you won’t have to worry if you mess up.
2. Choose your recipe carefully
Take a look at some beginners baking recipes like cupcakes, muffins and brownies and pick the one you think appeals most to you. If you love chocolate, choose a nice chocolate sponge. If chilled desserts are more your thing, go for a simple vanilla cheesecake.
Once you have chosen your recipe, read it all, from beginning to end. This way you will know that you have the right ingredients for all steps.
3. Choose your recipe
Baking is a fun hobby, but it’s worth making sure your kitchen is fully prepped and you have all the correct ingredients before you begin. This will make the process of baking much more fun and relaxing throughout. You don’t want to get half way through your bake a realise you have forgotten vanilla essence or underestimated the amount of butter you’ll need.
4. Follow your recipe exactly
It’s so tempting, for both newcomers and seasoned bakers alike to think that they know better than the recipe in front of them. You may have read some great baking hack online that says you only need a third of the sugar any recipe tells you or that margarine is just as good as butter, but you should proceed with caution.
There is a reason the recipe tells you to use self-raising flour or caster sugar in those exact measurements. As easy as it is to think you might know better, sticking to the recipe at the beginning will ensure you end up with a bake that has all the right ingredients in all the right places.
5. Prepare your tools
Make sure you dig out all the tools you need and prep them before you begin. This way, you won’t be missing a blade from that processor you need and you’ll know your cake tin is still useable.
It’s also worth greasing any trays that need it, preparing any cookie sheets and getting any muffin cases ready.
6. Pre-heat your oven
Before you start the recipe, preheat your oven so by the time you’re done mixing your ingredients, it’s at the required temperature and you can pop it in to start baking immediately.
It’s not great for your ingredients to be left lying around for too long as the cake might not rise correctly or come out hard or deflated.
7. Take care on the decoration
One you have baked the cake and left it to cool, decorating it can be one the most fun parts of the whole process. If you're a beginner and just went for a cake with no layers, feel free to just cover it all in the frosting of your choice!
This is the time when you can get really creative, without worrying about messing up the bake!
You’ve done the hard work, now it’s time to reap the rewards. Enjoy your bake with family and friends (or by yourself if you’re feeling particularly hungry). If it taste strange, falls apart or fails to rise, you can simply keep trying until you have created the perfect bake.
So, just imagine Mel and Sue are cheering you on, and get baking!