The Great British Baking Off (GBBO) made the yuletide gay by recently airing two holiday episodes chockfull with four openly gay bakers, the lesbian co-host and the London’s Gay Men’s Chorus singing the New Year episode’s outro.
The popular reality baking competition has already been very gay with two comedic lesbian co-hosts — first, Sue Perkins and later the drier (but still delightful) lesbian comic Sandi Toksvig. There’s also the bearish, bad daddy co-judge Paul Hollywood, and the show has also featured at least ten openly gay and lesbian competitors during its nearly 10-season run.
But to celebrate the holidays, the show got a tad gayer with lots of cheer and festive decorations in its Christmas and New Year’s episodes. (And unlike the RuPaul’s Drag Race Christmas special, these holiday specials had actual winners).
Sadly, the two GBBO holiday episodes aired on Channel 4 and probably won’t be available to U.S. Netflix viewers until the start of the New Year, so we’ll describe some of what happens (though we’ll keep the winners secret).
Openly gay competitors Andrew Smyth and Liam Charles returned to compete in “The Great Christmas Bake Off” where contestants had to make 12 cookies based on “The 12 Days of Christmas,” six intricately cut Icelandic Laufabrauð (an ultra-thin Christmas bread), and a present-shaped cake with a hidden artistic design inside.
For the “12 Days of Christmas” signature bake, both Smyth and Charles made mince pie-flavored cookies: Smyth decorated his nutmeg and raisin cookies with multi-colored apple brandy royal icing in the shape of cartoons of 12 things he appreciates during the holidays (like turkey and extra sleep).
Charles, on the other hand, used shortbread and colorful icing to create 12 biscuits based on his favorite pasttimes (like playing video games and eating falafel) placed in a handmade advent calendar.
In the final “showstopper challenge,” Smyth placed two orange liquor-flavored ornaments inside of an orange and hazelnut sponge cake. Charles made a lemon cake filled with chocolate stars and gingerbread men, both of which revealed themselves once the cake was cut.
We won’t say who won, but the show ends with literal reindeer standing outside of the baking tent, snowy trees, “fairy lights,” a children’s choir and some long-haired glam rocker with green glitter smeared under his eyes — shine on, you crazy diamond!
On the New Year’s episode, entitled “The Great Festive Bake Off,” openly gay competitors Steven Carter-Bailey and Tamal Ray worked alongside two female bakers. They had to make a well-decorated braided wreath of stollen fruit bread, French Iles Flottantes (meringue floating on custard with sugar-work on top, all served in martini glasses), and a cake designed in the shape of their New Year’s resolutions.
While Ray baked a modest orange and rum stollen decorated with leaves of icing, over-achieving Carter-Bailey made an impressive wreath filled with hazlenut marzipan, chocolate, raspberries and cherries and topped with a silver stag head made out of fondant. It was so beautiful, you almost didn’t want to eat it.
For the final showstopper, Ray made a chocolate cake in the shape of a tailor dummy, and Carter-Bailey made two illusion cakes: one shaped like an old-style rotary telephone (flavored with salted cinnamon and caramel buttercream) and one shaped like a notepad (made of a chocolate coffee and hazelnut sponge).
Personally, both Ray and Carter-Bailey are snacks in and of themselves, with bearish and otter qualities in turn. Carter-Bailey is proper fit and furry, and Ray has a cute habit of pursing his lips when nervous, both of which make viewers like melt into a puddle of chocolate ganache.
After announcing the winner, the show ended with a send-off by the London’s Gay Men’s Chorus singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” They then showered the champagne-toasting competitors with silver and gold confetti — a truly gay start to the year if there ever was one.