The Great British Bake Off sees passionate home bakers take part in an elimination competition to test every aspect of their baking skills. Each week the surviving bakers are put through three challenges in a particular baking discipline, such as cake, pastry, pies, bread, or biscuits.
Round One is the Signature Challenge, which contestants will have had a chance to practice. However Round Two, the Technical Challenge, is unknown to them until filming, and they are given identical ingredients and a vague recipe to follow. Finally, the Showstopper Round tests their ability to impress the judges with outstanding workmanship, decoration, and design.
Judging the baking are professional baker Paul Hollywood and food writer Mary Berry, who was replaced by restaurateur Prue Leith after the show's move from the BBC to Channel 4.
The 12 new bakers don their aprons and head for the iconic tent for cake week.
Starting with cake week, the bakers' first signature challenge is to make a madeira cake. It's a well-loved cake, but which of our bakers will try to impress by reinventing this classic, and who will play safe in a bid to get perfect madeira with its traditional crack?
With one challenge out the way, the bakers face their first technical - Mary's frosted walnut cake, a pre-war classic that is as British as they come. Light sponge sandwiched with buttercream and covered with sweet meringue, this technically challenging cake is one of Mary's favourites, and no-one wants to disappoint the queen of baking.
Day Two, and the bakers have to go all out to impress with their first show-stopper, the black forest gateau. This retro classic from the 70s has it all - chocolate, cherries and cream. It's ripe for a reinvention, and these 12 bakers are ready and willing.
12 new bakers, 30 new challenges.
On your marks, get set... bake!
With cake week over, the remaining bakers must prove themselves with biscuits.
The signature challenge is to create 24 biscotti. Twice baked, these Italian specialities have to be crammed with flavour and have a crisp crunch. It's a delicate balance between underbaked and bendy, or overbaked and rock hard.
Paul chooses the technical challenge, arlettes, a labour-intensive reverse puff pastry biscuit from south west France. Wafer-thin, flaky and swirled with cinnamon, delicious to eat but devilishly difficult to make.
And finally, the show-stopper is to create and build an edible biscuit box filled with 36 biscuits of a different flavour.
Judges Mary and Paul want to see the bakers exercise their creative muscles with clever construction and beautiful decoration, while not forgetting that flavour is king. The pressure is on, and the clock is ticking. Who will claim Star Baker, and who will be leaving the Bake Off tent?
The ten remaining bakers tackle quick breads, baguettes and 3D bread sculptures.
Starting with the signature challenge, the bakers must tackle a Bake Off first and make quick breads - with no proving necessary, the bakers have an hour and a half to get creative with their flavours. Ranging from sweet chocolate loaves to manchego and prosciutto stuffed bread, the finished loaves are a delight, and one even earns a handshake from Paul.
In another Bake Off first, Paul sets baguettes as the technical challenge. A seemingly simple recipe, everyone knows what a baguette looks like... or do they? The pressure of the tent gets to a few of the bakers, and the finished baguettes result in one of Paul's most brutal judgings.
For their show-stopper, the bakers must make edible 3-D bread sculptures. As one baker says, 'it's doughverload', with another making enough bread to start up his own bakery. Mary and Paul have to work their way through a bicycle, a snake, an array of flowers, a lion and even the Brighton Pavilion, all made of bread. The results are impressive - so much so that one baker renders Paul speechless by making the best bread sculpture he's ever seen.
For the nine bakers left, it's time to tackle the sweet ending to every meal - desserts.
The signature challenge comes in the form of a French classic - creme brulees. The bakers need to achieve the perfect wobble of the creme and an audible crack of the brulee. It's not easy though, as they have to brulee under the grill, not with a blow torch. While some will reach perfection, others will serve up scrambled egg and custard soup.
Mary picks the technical challenge, and it's a European medley - the spanische windtorte from Austria, with a nod to Spain and some Swiss and French meringue thrown in. It maybe only be meringue, cream and soft fruit, but it's tricky to construct and needs to be decorated with delicate fondant violets - if only the bakers knew what a violet looked like!
Not one, not two, but three baked cheesecakes make up the show-stopper. Mary and Paul are looking for faultless baked cheesecakes, beautifully flavoured and stacked in a show-stopping way - easy? The bakers don't disappoint with their inventive ingredient combinations, but not all of the tiered cheesecakes are structurally sound.
The remaining bakers have to try and bake without sugar, gluten or dairy this week. The signature challenge sees the bakers having to create a variety of sugar-free cakes, from an upside-down pineapple cake to carrot cakes. The technical challenge features gluten-free pittas. For their showstopper, the bakers have to make dairy-free ice cream rolls.
The remaining bakers have to prove their skill with pastry. They have to make frangipane tarts for their signature challenge and the technical challenge sees them having to make a traditional cheese-filled pastry from Cyprus called the flaouna. The showstopper is the classic 70’s canape, vol-au-vents. Bitesize puff pastry.
In a Bake Off first, the entire episode is devoted to the period of history that gave birth to modern baking - the Victorian era.
The signature challenge is a stalwart of the Victorian dinner table, game pie. Pie moulds, pheasant, pigeon and pastry are the order of the day as the bakers must create beautifully decorated pies, stuffed with all manner of game to tantalise the judges' taste buds. For one it's the chance to use a genuine antique from 1850, while others take a more modern approach and dabble with spices.
Mary dusts off her antique cookbooks to find a technical recipe that dates back to the late 1800s. The bakers battle with time as they must first make a perfect fruit cake, and then create their own sugar paste and marzipan and indulge in some very detailed royal icing in a bid to create a cake that resembles a tennis court.
For the show-stopper, the bakers make charlotte russe, a dessert much loved by the Victorians which has a silky bavarois centre surrounded by sponge fingers and topped with jelly. A tricky construction at the best of the times, but the added pressure of the Bake Off tent takes its toll as not everyone manages to get their jelly to set or the charlotte russe to stay standing. Although one baker does manage to create a masterpiece that even Queen Victoria herself would have found amusing.
No series of Bake Off would be complete without testing the bakers on patisserie, and what better time to do it than the quarter finals? The five remaining bakers must work their way through childhood favourites and delicate french fancies to a mountainous choux pastry masterpiece.
The pressure is on, as the remaining bakers must get to grips with one of the most difficult ingredients, chocolate.
Only three of the original twelve bakers remain. They've made it to the final. Over 27 challenges, they've worked their way through every baking discipline Mary and Paul have thrown at them - from cakes to bread, pastry to puddings, and biscuits to chocolate. Along the way they have tackled recipes from the 70s and 80s, they've gone back to the Victorian era, they've made gluten-free bread, strange meringue concoctions, incredible constructions out of biscuits, bread and choux... They have all survived, and now they face their last three challenges.
The signature challenge sees the finalists tackle enriched dough to create delicious filled iced buns. The technical requires them to conquer something they have all struggled with, and finally, for their last ever showstopper, they must make a classic British cake.
Mary and Paul expect nothing short of perfection. So who will hold their nerve? Who will be crowned winner of The Great British Bake Off 2015?
On your marks, get set... bake!