A few weeks ago now, The Great British Bake Off 2020 came to its textbook, comfort-telly conclusion. I was most perturbed to discover, however, that Peter Sawkins, the eventual winner and the nation’s newly adopted grandson, is in the same academic year as I am.
Peter mentioned on the show that Bake Off has been around for half of his life, which would then mean it’s also been around for half of mine. I have never felt so frighteningly young.
It was never going to be too long before the title of ‘youngest winner of the Great British Bake Off’ went to someone born in the 21st century, as other student bakers like Henry Bird (2019 series) and Liam Charles (2017 series) have also proven their skills within the tent in recent years.
Three years into university, I reckon I’ve evolved into a classic brand of student cook, having mastered every style of ‘grab wok, fling things in it, fry all to death, eat’ but then not yet truly having gotten to grips with an oven
However, students and food in general have always gotten a bit of a bad rep; we hear horror stories of youths, newly freed from the nutritional safety of Mum’s cooking, surviving their first year at university on alcohol, take-aways, and a singular mega-pack of pasta. I am convinced that catered halls were invented purely to placate nervous parents.
Three years into university, I reckon I’ve evolved into a classic brand of student cook, having mastered every style of ‘grab wok, fling things in it, fry all to death, eat’ but then not yet truly having gotten to grips with an oven.
Some of my friends are far more capable chefs than me, particularly when it comes to the realm of curries. Other people I know can, and will, just eat pre-prepared burritos and beans on toast for an entire semester and not bat an eyelid.
But this negative student-cook stereotype is clearly not the case with Peter from Bake Off. A couple of weeks into the series run, Noel Fielding labelled him ‘the baby-faced assassin’ because of his abilities, but I couldn’t help but see Peter as more of a ‘baby-faced axe murderer’ i.e. impossible not to see coming.
Every self-proclaimed armchair baker in the whole of the UK likely took one look at Peter’s week 1 Battenberg and thought to themselves ‘Hey. Kid’s got skills.’
Like with Peter, Bake Off has been inspiring the whole of the UK to get their aprons out and crack on for a decade now, although some of us do still cop out and just attempt to find something tasty in the pastries aisle at Tesco
As for why, well, it’s been pummelled a little forcefully down our throats for the whole series. Peter is a huge bake off nerd. And, unsurprisingly, when one has a true, genuine love for something from an early age, the honing of the skills is far less of a drag and an actual talent is born.
Like with Peter, Bake Off has been inspiring the whole of the UK to get their aprons out and crack on for a decade now, although some of us do still cop out and just attempt to find something tasty in the pastries aisle at Tesco.
As a proud member of the latter category, I myself would never dare apply, though I did slip a little way into the ‘when pandemic, must bake’ mentality many of us acquired in the early days of the first lockdown.
Most of my attempts, though, were more Celebrity Bake Off quality than some of the delights that are produced yearly in the actual competition, and I lost interest long before I used up all of the flour in our house.
The love of cooking and baking, I think, is really what drives someone to be a good cook or baker, as it is with any talent that requires significant practice; it also requires the sort of dedication that I did not have last spring.
The rise of the #foodstagrams and food blogging means that inspiration for delicious dishes can be poured sweetly into our brains from all corners of the world
Peter, Liam and Henry, then, aren’t really exceptions to the ‘students can’t cook’ rule, they’re more exceptions to the ‘the majority of young people haven’t wanted or needed to take an interest in cooking for themselves before university, so haven’t cultivated the love for it required to progress past the basics and that’s why it seems like all we eat is pot noodle and microwave meals’ rule.
Of course, these Bake Off boys are not the only people our age to take an interest in learning to cook, the rise of the #foodstagrams and food blogging means that inspiration for delicious dishes can be poured sweetly into our brains from all corners of the world.
Personally, I find that scrolling through these feeds makes me a little more hungry than inspired, but then my enthusiasm for food has always been far more in the eating than in the preparation stage.
Sometimes, it’s just easier to whack a cuppa-soup in the microwave and continue on with that paper due in for midnight tonight
It could be said that because of all this culinary inspiration in our media, it’s never been easier for students to be motivated to cook really delicious dinners for ourselves.
But, this often negates the fact that we also have actual degrees to study for; degrees which consistently cost us significant amounts of money, time, and effort.
Sometimes, it’s just easier to whack a cuppa-soup in the microwave and continue on with that paper due in for midnight tonight. Stereotypes be damned.
For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.