On your marks, get set… As The Great British Bake Off returns to our screens this month, we celebrate with a pick of our favourite Bake Off ready kitchens. Where better to try out the favourite recipes of national treasure Mary Berry and blue-eyed master baker Paul Hollywood?
This will be the seventh glorious year of GBBO but will it rise – like one of Mary’s faultless souffles – to the dizzying heights set by previous series? Will the Mel/Sue banter be the icing on the cake – or fall flat as a pancake?
And what of the Great British Bake Off contestants? Will anyone ever be as wondrous as last year’s winner Nadiya Hussein, who stole our hearts and tickled our taste buds with that Showstopper wedding cake? Will there be a Great British Bake Off recipe to rival 2012 winner John Whaite’s Heaven and Hell chocolate cake? Every series brings those brilliant past contestants to mind – Brendan who was never without his slide rule, James who knew how to wear a Fair Isle tank top or two and Ruby who spent her time in the Bake Off tent sobbing into the creme patissiere…
Let’s hope this series has its share of intrigue and incident, too. Who can forget the Great Baked Alaska Catastrophe of 2014 when beardy Iain slid his warm ice cream dessert – like a weasel off a rock – into the Brabantia Touch Bin. And The Curious Custard Calamity of 2013 when poor Howard had his creme anglais swiped from that rather nice looking Gorenje fridge while his back was turned?
It's 10 episodes to the Great British Bake Off 2016 final so, in the meantime, enjoy these fabulous kitchen spaces, designed to meet the challenge of whatever is thrown at them - whether Signature, Technical or Showstopper...
Well organised kitchen with adjacent breakout area (pictured)
Perfect for playing to an audience, this smart kitchen in soothing deep blue, white and grey features a central marble-topped island lit from above with low-hung pendants that supply perfect task lighting. Guests can admire your skills with a Fig Roly Poly Pudding from the bank of smart wooden island-side stools, or enjoy the comfort of the nearby living area.
Time is of the (vanilla) essence in a Bake Off ready kitchen so it's important to have all your ingredients and equipment close to hand when embarking on a Swedish Princess Cake. This charming country kitchen, with its mix of cornflower blue and white units, is packed with practical storage, from its dresser-like cupboard with a handy space for chalking up shopping lists, to open shelves and a robust worktop.
Increase your Individual Focaccia Roll production with a smart kitchen island - more worktop space equates to speedier working and you know what a stickler Paul Hollywood is for time management. Look for a design that has the capacity to store stools underneath so they don't impede your progress around the kitchen - every little helps. This freestanding kitchen unit has been customised with sheets of mosaic tile for added sparkle.
Max out on your cooking and fridge-freezing possibilities with the best appliances your budget will allow. This smart designer kitchen features a pair of side-by-side built-in ovens and a huge American fridge-freezer. The latest models, such as combination microwave and convection ovens, feature fans as well as microwaves to speed up cooking times. Some bakers prefer fan or convection ovens for cakes and conventional for biscuits and bread. Look for a fridge-freezer with a fast freeze function for speedy cool-downs.
When grappling with that pesky folded parchment collar for Mary Berry's Hot Chocolate Souffle who wouldn't welcome the comfort and space of a practical kitchen corner like this one? We love the bright open shelves, easy-to-wipe-clean metro tiling, the cooker with practical upstand and, best of all, the length of worktop that keeps the space open and sociable. What could possibly go wrong?
You need to keep cool when making the pastry for Mary Berry's Apricot Frangipane Tart and a marble worktop is the centrepiece of every good pastry chef's ideal kitchen. In this super-smart space, the marble continues up the wall in splashback form and even provides a shelf for crockery - perfect for plating up.
Similar marble worktops
You need lots of elbow room when you're rolling out Paul Hollywood's Ginger Biscuits so an extra worktop can come in handy. If you have the space, a table is a brilliant solution - especially if it's a scrubbed rustic number like this little one - as it provides a lower working surface that can be more comfortable for hand mixing, mashing and rolling out. Position the table in the golden triangle between sink, cooker and fridge-freezer for maximum practicality.
Want to achieve that laid-back country kitchen feel? Get more inspiration with our pick of shabby chic kitchen ideas