Bake Off: Creme de la Creme gets a creaming from the critics
Tom Kerridge's GBBO spin-off 'got the recipe wrong' and turned out a show 'devoid of passion and identity'
Bake Off: Creme de la Creme, the BBC's Great British Bake Off spin-off, has flopped with fans and been branded a "soggy-bottomed disaster" by critics.
The new eight-part series, hosted by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, sees 15 teams of professional bakers competing to prepare desserts for a panel of world-famous pastry chef judges.
However, critics say the series, which had its first outing last night, is glossy but bland.
You can understand the temptation, says Michael Hogan in the Daily Telegraph. The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) was the most viewed TV show last year and is the BBC's third most popular format sold abroad, so a spin-off must have seemed like a no-brainer. This new offshoot, however, "got the recipe wrong".
The journalist says: "This was high-end professional patisserie, rather than cosy amateur home-baking. All the elements for which Bake Off is so adored were changed" and the result was "a soggy-bottomed disaster".
When Bake Off goes pro, it gets serious, says Chitra Ramaswamy in The Guardian, "which means it gets silly".
GBBO was a surprise hit, with the surprise being that something "simple, boring and crap could be so good", she adds. But like all spin-offs, Creme de la Creme is "too big, glossy and Mastercheffy to be really lovable".
The BBC is butchering its latest golden goose, says Gabriel Tate in The Times. This spin-off was anything but mouth-watering, he continues, calling it an "uninvolving affair at once frenetically busy and yawningly free of incident".
It was full of astounding technical proficiency and jaw-dropping invention, "but devoid of passion and identity", Tate adds, before asking: "Where was the love? Where was the fun? Where, God forgive me, was Paul Hollywood?"
Yes, this was as far from the gentle, engaging style of the Great British Bake Off as it's possible to imagine, agrees Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail. No one offered advice or encouragement to rival contestants – "they just hissed catty judgments that were spelled out, in case we missed them, in subtitles".
The original show is a homely affair, a bit stodgy but warm and satisfying, he adds. Each year, the cookery techniques get more exotic and remote. Creme de la Creme takes that trend to an extreme, notes the critic, who hopes ordinary home bakers will be able to return to "the ordinary guilty pleasures of Victoria sponge and cupcakes" when Bake Off returns later this year.
GBBO's many fans agreed with the critics and flooded Twitter with messages ranging from the disappointed to the disgruntled.
"Just not feeling this #GBBOCreme. Doesn't work. I don't think it knows what it's trying to be. Bake off? Masterchef? Great British Menu?" wrote one, while another tweeted: "They've tried to lure us all in by calling it Bake Off! This is not Bake Off, this is Masterchef! Bloody frauds!"
Creme de la Creme is on Tuesdays on BBC Two at 8pm
Can a professional version of Great British Bake Off work?
A new Great British Bake Off spin-off, featuring teams of professional pastry chefs competing against each other, is due to air next year.
The eight-part series – titled Bake Off: Creme de la Creme – will star 15 teams of three chefs from famous hotels and restaurants, as well as high-end patisseries, supermarket bakeries and the armed forces.
The Great British Bake Off has been a "surprise success story for the BBC", says the Daily Telegraph, with more than 15 million people tuning in to watch this year's final.
"But while the original show has charmed viewers with its whimsical tone, and the innuendo-laden approach of presenters, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, BBC insiders said that the spin-off series would be 'very intense and not at all light-hearted'," says the newspaper.
The teams will battle it out in a professional kitchen rather than the GBBO marquee and the "twinkling Mary Berry" and "robust Paul Hollywood" will be replaced.
Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge will present and the contestants will be judged by Benoit Blin from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Cherish Finden from The Langham and Claire Clark, who has been twice named Britain's Best Pastry Chef.
"It's hard to think how the creations in The Great British Bake Off could get more impressive. These people make wildlife out of bread, for Pete's sake," says the Radio Times. "Still, apparently baking can rise even higher."
As the chefs are challenged to display the "precision of surgeons, the knowledge of chemists and the creativity of artists", the Metro suggests that the new series will be much more straight-laced. "In other words, don't expect to see too many soggy bottoms," says the paper.
Digital Spy concludes that if you can't wait until the next series of The Great British Bake Off "this might be a tasty filling for the gap".
Bake Off: Creme De La Creme will air on BBC Two in 2016.