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100 Lessons to Learn from the GBBO

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Can you really find 100 lessons to learn from the GBBO? Oh, I think I can, and I did!

I’ve been a long time fan of the Great British Baking Show that’s no secret. Once I started thinking about how nice everyone is, and how the contestants help each other, I realized it was teaching so much more.

Steamed Pumpkin Pudding with Vanilla Hard Sauce

So I started jotting them down, and before I knew I had quite a few notes. Then I got a bit obsessive about it. I pushed on and finally came up with 100 lessons to learn from the GBBO.

Can there possibly be 100 lessons to learn from the GBBO?

Why yes there are! They’re not ALL the same kinds of lessons.

I'm hosting a Great British Baking Show Bake-Along. Here's Paul Hollywood's Cottage Loaf with American Measurements for Week 3, Bread Week! #GBBO #greatbritishbakingshow

Some are obviously about how to be a better person. Some are straight-up about baking. Some cross the line and include elements of both. It’s up to you to suss those out, and take them how you will.

I also added a few tidbits of info from the hosts about what’s what, like are Jaffa Cakes REALLY cakes? And so on. Lots of fun in there. See if you can find anything that came from people or seasons you recognize.

I added a few affiliate links in there to share a couple of products I love. Like there’s the mixer I adore and a timer I’d definitely put to good use in my kitchen. And a few other things.

Give the list a read and let me know what I missed, would you??

100 lessons to Learn from the GBBO

Wear an Apron

Your clothes will love you for it! This was a big life lesson for me years ago when I didn’t wear and apron and splashed curry all over myself. Tumeric never comes out by the way.

No one notices if you wear the same clothes two days in a row

But maybe they would in real life? Throw your apron on and who’s going to know?

Bandages are not called bandaids 

they’re called plasters and I LOVE IT!

Wear a bright-colored bandage

Bandages or plasters should always be a color that doesn’t match your skin so they show up if you lose them and you can see right away when it’s missing

Tie your hair back

clip it back, tie it back, pull it up, get it under control

Keep your nails short

Clip them short, the people you’re feeding will thank you!

I need TWO different potholders for my hands.

I don’t want hot pads hooked together in the middle, I need free and independent hands

Use a thermometer on bread

Get your bread to the right temperature and it’s got to better, right? I’d never seen this done before but it’s so smart. This looks like the thermometer they use.

Sometimes things just break 

For no apparent reason, it’s not your fault so don’t worry about it.

Get bold with flavors

There’s a whole world of flavor combinations out there, discover something new!

There is such a thing as too much chocolate

AND too thick of chocolate.

I never want to make a cake that is stodgy

or worse claggy! When I hear the judges say a cake is claggy or stodgy I CRINGE for the baker.

Sometimes you have to take chances

New flavors, new recipes, new ideas! Yes the od favorites are favorites for a reason but new ideas and evolving tastes should be accounted for.

Never throw your bake in the bin

It might STILL taste great. And you can always find a way to salvage it. This is a lesson in adaptability and learning to adjust when something unexpected happens. It might not be exactly what you wanted, but find a way to make it work, then commit.

Always be kind

It’s free, throw it around like glitter!

Say what you need to say 

Only when it’s the truth, but don’t be cruel.

You can’t see the future

You don’t know how things will turn out.

How to eat a scone

The proper way to eat a scone, jam THEN cream-Mary SAID SO!

Weigh your dough

Your bakes will all be similar in size. When I have my scale out AND it has batteries my buns and rolls are all just about even. Leave me to my own devices and POOF one big roll and 7 little ones. This a great scale, mine is similar!

Know where your components are

Watch your ice cream in the freezer. Especially if it’s in one of these gorgeous Smeg Refrigerators

Don’t use store-bought ingredients!

No fondant, no jam, no puff pastry should come from the store. IF you’re in a baking competition that is.

Give it a whirl!

You might surprise yourself once in a while.

What time is it?

Time management is a good thing, so learn how to do it.

Practice makes perfect

Can you ever practice too much?

Take a leap!

Jump into the unknown with gusto

Read the directions

And better yet follow the directions!

Natural flavors are best

Use extracts and flavor additives with care.

Always know the basics

Don’t be afraid to be a basic bitch. Get those basics down, no matter what that means to you. Baking, photography, car repair, whatever.

Don’t stir caramel

When you stir sugar you’re trying to caramelize it can turn grainy and crystalized. Just let it do its thing for the best results.

Be helpful

Help your neighbors even if it means you might not get what you want in the end.

Don’t give up

You don’t know what tomorrow brings so never give up today.

Fast friendships are ok

It’s ok to become fast friends with people and bond over your time together.

Jaffa Cakes ARE cakes

It’s been legally ruled that Jaffa Cakes ARE cakes and not cookies.

Jaffa Cake with a bite out of it

Always be prepared

Whatever that means for you in your life. Be ready for it.

Small bites only

Especially when judging a food event only try a small bite. After so many bites you’re not going to want any big bites. SO start small and you’ll be so much better off.

Handshakes are important

So be sure you’re ready with a firm handshake. Sometimes a simple handshake can make change your day!

Look for the good

Always look on the bright side. Cake fell? Make cake pops. Left your phone at home. Practice being without it.

Just because it worked at home doesn’t mean it will work again

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard bakers say this but it’s always when they’re desperately hoping a caramel house stays in place or their 14 layer cake doesn’t slide right off the plate.

Bundt pans are a real pain in the a$$

It’s true. You can grease them. Butter them. Flour them. Spray them. Denounce their evil spirits. And still, the chances are they will stick.

Be ready to receive help

The person you don’t know at all may save your butt. Those are the BEST people. When they offer to help, let them.

Keep reading we’re not even halfway through this list of 100 lessons to learn from the GBBO…seriously!

No one is perfect

Everyone has an off day once in a while. The only thing you can do is know that, understand it, and hope it doesn’t happen for the showstopper!

It only takes one mistake

One mistake to turn your bake into a mess. So be prepared and come with a list you can tick off. Even then mistakes can happen.

Follow the recipe when it matters

But you’ve got to KNOW when it matters. Can you take a shortcut? Does it work? Know it if works before betting a bake on it.

Simple doesn’t always pay off

Keeping it simple at the wrong time is never a good thing. Sometimes you need flair, other times you need to just get the job done. Knowing when to do what is where the lesson lies.

You just never know

Things can turn around in the blink of an eye. One minute you’re stacking cake layers and the next minute you could be picking crumbled cake off the carpet. So don’t assume you’re golden until you KNOW you’re golden.

Always lend a hand when you can

If you have a hand to lend, do so. Obviously knowing when you can and can’t is the important part here.

Don’t use matching canisters

Keep your sugar and salt in different style containers. Youll never mix up these two similar-looking ingredients!

Weigh ingredients

Weigh your ingredients for best results. A cup of flour can be more or less depending on if it’s sifted and compacted down. Weighing gives you the same amount day in and out. A bakers tip: buy extra batteries, label them, and keep them where you can find them easily.

Sift dry ingredients together

Sifting dry ingredients together before mixing can be beneficial. Your teaspoon of salt will definitely be evenly distributed if you give it a quick sift. A whisk works well to quickly stir it up too.

Follow the directions

If you’re given a job that says bake 12 rolls filled with nuts and fruit and you produce 8 rolls filled spices you’re doing it wrong.

Beware of speakerphone

Never talk to your mother on speakerphone because she will probably definitely swear. And for that matter avoid using speakerphone ANYWHERE in public you look like a jerk.

Don’t go easy on your chance to shine 

When someone asks for a SHOWSTOPPER make it an absolute showstopping phenomenon. This is your time to trot out what you do best so let it rip. It’s not the time to play it safe or simple

Know your limits

This goes part and parcel with the one above, know your limits. If you can’t make a three-tier chocolate house that blows off fireworks DO NOT ATTEMPT IT. Work with your talents, not against yourself.

Get creative

It’s in there somewhere, your creativity. Once you tap into it the ideas will start flowing. So grab one creative idea, work it, and let the others come out as they will. Mine happen to come at the weirdest time. Listen to them, jot them down, keep a list.

Biscuits in England don’t mean buttermilk biscuits

Ha so true! Biscuits are not the same across the pond.

Don’t make caramel in a tent

There’s literally never a time when I’m camping that I think hey I should make caramel. Actually I hate camping but that’s another story. But the takeaway here is this: Caramel and humidity do not mix.

Also, don’t mold chocolates in a tent

Again I’m actually talking about environmental control. When its too hot molded chocolates melt away quickly. So bottom line be aware of your surroundings

Vegan meringue exists

And it’s made with bean water, specifically garbanzo bean water. Check out my Vegan Pavlova.

Vegan Pavlova made with Aquafaba

Time management is KEY

At some point, you’re going to have to do three different things at once. How will you manage? A list and some time management skills.

Know how to set a timer

Being able to set a timer correctly is a very good skill to have. It seems basic but if you can set a timer and give yourself a hard deadline to work against you’re going to get things done. And by the way, I WANT THIS TIMER!

ALWAYS preheat

Your oven, your deep-fat fryer, your curling iron, your car in Alaska. All of it. You’re welcome.

No one wants a soggy bottom

Not people eating pies, not babies, not judges. Do what it takes to make sure no one says “ohhh a soggy bottom.”

You can test gluten development

Is your dough ready to go? Did you knead it enough? Take a bit, stretch it out. Can you stretch it enough to see through it? If not you may want to keep kneading.

Give bread space

Give your free form bread or rolls room to grow while baking so they don’t touch each other. They should not touch each other.

Use a torch with care

A browning torch makes a very small but powerful flame. Don’t keep flammables behind whatever you’re browning. Use it in passes, go over the area once, then sweep over it again.

There’s more than one kind of pastry dough

Not all of them require cold butter! Learn to make a few, know when to use them, rock your pies, tarts, hand-raised pies, and danishes!

Substance over style always

This applies to baking, personalities, people, and so much more.

If it looks good it better taste good

This goes hand in hand with substance over style. If you make a gorgeous gingerbread it best taste brilliant too.

Cool your cakes

While fanning a cake with a baking sheet looks cool it doesn’t actually work very well. This is where time management comes into play. Fuss around with the little stuff and the big stuff isn’t going to get done.

Go easy with a microwave

Microwaves and baking don’t make the best partners. Although I saw Nancy pull off a few miracles with one. Go easy with them.

Never frost a warm cake

This pertains to the cooling cakes post above. If your cake is warm, cool it down before frosting.

A nip will do you well

A little booze never hurt anyone, in the baking arena, anyway. Alcohol in your bakes can add a nuanced or overpowering flavor, go easy or you’re sunk.

Hold the Lavendar and the Rose Flavors

Many bakers have tried to use a dab and have ruined their bakes. These flowery flavors never seem to do it with the judges.

Know how to Knead

Know how to knead dough even if you have a stand mixer. This is a skill that’s important to have. Yes, a machine can do the job, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know HOW to do the job. And do it by hand occasionally.

The hours of work are worth it

When you’re in the middle of something huge you sometimes question if it’s all worth it. But when you’ve finished and it’s all said and done, the hours of work are worth it.

Mixers will do it

If you can swing it having a stand mixer AND a hand mixer it makes a lot of sense. Especially if you’re doing something like a mousse that requires back to back the use of a mixer to whip egg yolks AND then whites.

Every critique is a moment to learn

If you can take your ego out of the picture that is. Ego makes it so hard to accept that you’ve failed or could have done better. It’s so hard to let THAT go and learn from it. But letting go of the ego is so good for your life this is one lesson that bridges LIFE and BAKING.

Save your advice

If someone wants your advice it’s best to let them ask for it. I practice this in my group, it’s part of the rules, and a rule to live by. Keep your helpful tips to yourself until someone asks for help. SO HARD TO DO!


Just be yourself because there’s only ONE you, and you’re amazing. I don’t care if you have flaws or you feel unloveable I KNOW deep inside you’re a kick-ass person. Be authentic, be real, be you, bring yourself to the table, and never quit being amazing.

You can compete and still be friends!

You see it every single episode of the GBBO people who are competing and they’re STILL FRIENDS. Competition doesn’t have to be ugly like American shows would have you believe. You can competitive and friends, but it takes real work.

Hard work is hard

Do it anyway. If life is always easy and blessed you’ll take it for granted. BUT add in some bakes, sweat, and tears and you’re into some hard work. And the sweet and easy times will seem SO AMAZING!


Get better at simple math. I should be able to divide my dough into equal parts without a math degree or a calculator. Practice more!

Cotton candy is candy floss

AND you can make it at home. Is it like fair food cotton candy. Nope, but damn it’s good!

Know your tools

Know which dishes are heatproof, which knife works best for what job, why a whisk works best for some jobs. Learn the tools of your trade.

A full-size food processor AND a mini food processor are nice to have 

A full-size food processor AND a mini food processor are nice to have but not necessary, anything a mini can do a full size can do as well. So if you’re feeling like you need MORE you probably don’t.

A watched bake is a watched bake

And 99% of the time watching it won’t help you out. Do something else, let the oven work, and come back to it. Remember to use that timer!

Mirror glazes can make or break a bake

Too much gelatin and you’re toast! A rubbery coating that you can’t cut through is what you’ll get if you overdo the gelatin. Booooooo

Just because you got it on the plate, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay there

Be sure to affix your bakes to your plate. And be careful carrying it! Cakes have a way of sliding right off the plate.

When the timer goes off check your bake

Don’t assume you’ve got time. Check it and reset it as needed. Or pull your bake out of the oven.

Leave your oven door shut

Opening the door of the oven while it’s in use can ruin your bake, cakes can fall, quick breads don’t rise correctly, at a bare minimum you’re letting out the heat

We all need this British Pan

Pans with multiple sizes in one exist. Make a square cake, rectangle OR FOUR SEPARATE FLAVORS! I mean seriously this thing is on it’s way to me as we speak. You’ve seen it on the show, now get one!

And here’s where I ran out of lessons at 92

I was done, finished I couldn’t go on with this crazy post about the 100 lessons to learn from the GBBO. My brain was fried and I was done.

So I tapped my AWESOME group of bakers on Facebook and they came shining through for me. All the lessons from the GBBO after this came from them. We got over 100 of them!

Cut your rolled baked goods perfectly

Use unflavored dental floss for a clean cut of your rolled baked goods. And remember it makes a clean cut on dough too.

Give yourself a little extra

Things usually take longer than you think they will. Give yourself extra time. Things will go awry. Give yourself a little extra patience. Sometimes bakes fail. Give yourself a little extra forgiveness… And then try it again!

If you DO go simple

If you’re going to do something simply, it better be perfect. Oh, that’s something we hear over and over again. So true in baking and life in general.

Leadership can change

Group leadership will change…and it may be worrisome or awkward at first but will work out just fine.

About those buns

It is socially acceptable to ogle someone’s buns. ON THE BAKE OFF!

Manage expectations

Don’t lower expectations for your bake before the judges try it. Yours OR there’s. The power of suggestion is a powerful thing!

It’s a dough thing

Too much stuff in your bread dough will slow the rise. Eggs, milk, butter, oil, all of it slows your rise. Be ready!

They say things better

Such as “get a wiggle on it” and in general English accents make everyone more charming!

Win or Lose

Do it with grace. Don’t be a terrible braggart or throw a fit, just accept it and roll on.

What would you add to this post of GBBO lessons? Am I missing anything? Drop a comment and I’ll try to add it.

Thanks to my Great British Baking Show Bake-Along Group on Facebook for pushing me up and over the 100 lessons to learn from the GBBO threshold. I was wavering and THEY SAVED ME! Thanks, group, love you all!

laura sampson

About Laura

Laura is on a mission to teach modern family oriented women how to make old-fashioned foods new again. A wife and mom of 3 boys, Laura understands the struggles of trying to serve a home-cooked meal each night. She provides recipes and cooking hacks for busy moms to create dishes they may think take more time or skill than they have to make. Read more...

4 thoughts on “100 Lessons to Learn from the GBBO”

  1. You need to just “crack on”, as they say in the show. Don’t give up on a challenge. I’ve never seen one of the contestants simply give up. I’ve seen contestants “bin” something that failed, but then they try again. Even when their effort doesn’t make the mark, they still present it. I think every contestant goes home a better baker for having pushed themselves beyond their comfort zone.


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