Talking Dutch: Let them eat cake


On your marks, get set, bake: Will the Flemish version of Britain’s premier cake competition rise to the challenge, or sink like a soggy soufflé?

Derek Blyth on soggy bottoms

Yum yum. The Flemish TV channel Vier has just launched its own version of the immensely successful UK baking show The Great British Bake Off. But will it work in Flanders, where cakes are normally bought on a Sunday morning at the local banketbakkerij – patisserie?

They tried once before a few years ago with a series called De Meesterbakker – The Master Baker. But it sank like an unsuccessful first attempt at a soufflé.

This time round, genial Flemish actor Wim Opbrouck has been picked to host the show, which airs every Wednesday. Hij is op zoek naar de meest getalenteerde thuisbakker van Vlaanderen – He is searching for the most talented amateur baker in Flanders.

The programme is filmed in the beautiful grounds of Kasteel van Schoten – Schoten Castle, with the judging done by Brussels pastry chef Herman Van Dender and food writer Regula Ysewijn, author of a bestselling history of English puddings.

The TV critics couldn’t wait to get their teeth into the sweet new offering. Would it be as tasty as the original? Or would it turn out to have a soggy bottom?

All the trimmings

Britten zijn nu eenmaal beter in sommige dingen – The British are simply better than us at certain things, said Stijn de Wolf of De Standaard. Humor, televisie maken en taart bakken – Humour, TV programmes and baking cakes.

But Bake Off Vlaanderen was a success nonetheless, he concluded. Gelukkig hebben ze bij Vier wél het verstand gehad om voor een regelrechte kopie te gaan – Happily, the people at Vier have had the good sense to go for a straightforward copy.

Die grote witte tent! – That big white tent! Die sprookjesachtige tuin! – The fairytale garden! Die muziekjes! – The music! Tot in de kleinste details herkenden we de stilistische tierlantijntjes van het origineel – We recognise all the fancy little trimmings of the original, right down to the smallest details.

And Opbrouck fits the role perfectly. Hij lijkt wel Winnie de Poeh die een programma over honing mag presenteren – It’s just like Winnie the Pooh presenting a programme about honey.

Bake Off Vlaanderen didn’t please everyone, though. The Gazet van Antwerpen’s critic was worried about the waste.

Met tien kandidaten – With 10 candidates die elk een rolcake, een savarin en een “verrassingscake’’ moesten klaarmaken – who were each required to prepare a Swiss roll, a savarin and a “surprise cake”, leverde de eerste aflevering van Bake Off Vlaanderen heel veel cake op – the first episode of Bake Off Flanders produced a lot of cake.

Dertig cakes in één aflevering – Thirty cakes in one episode. Wie eet dat allemaal op? – Who’s going to eat all that?

And the final verdict on the programme? Het was goed gebaakt, zonder meer – it was well baked, but that’s all. Maybe it needs just a few more minutes in the oven.