Meet the TikTok Star Taking On Every ‘Great British Baking Show’ Technical Challenge
To get through the first wave of the pandemic, people turned to elaborate hobbies and crafts and something called “whipped coffee.” Now that we’re in the grips of the second wave, University of Oklahoma grad Allie Alexander is offering a new comfort watch. When the pandemic dashed her dream to start acting after a move to Chicago, she turned to baking. Like, really baking.
“I just got to baking a lot and then I was like, I'm sick of baking by myself,” she tells me over the phone. “So I made a TikTok of me baking scones. When I was doing the voiceover I was like, ‘And also I'm going to bake my way through all the [Great British Bake Off, known in America as the Great British Baking Show] technical challenges.’ I just kind of said it, but then that TikTok blew up and I was like, Oh my God, I have to actually do it.”
The technical challenge is the most demanding part of every Great British Baking Show episode. In it, bakers must blindly follow a recipe for a baked good they likely haven’t heard of and have never seen. The instructions are often as vague as, simply, “bake.”
Alexander comes to the challenges a bit better prepared, having been a fan of the show since college and allowing herself all the time she needs to make each recipe. Since September, her Julie & Julia-inspired project has produced Florentines, Kouign Amann, Povitica, Schichttorte, and more. As of Monday, December 15, Alexander had officially the first two seasons available on Netflix—collections one and two—and there are six more left for her to mine technical challenges from.
Alexander has, in turn, earned over 100,000 followers on the app, and her videos as many as two million views.
“I just found this series and it’s my only source of serotonin rn,” one comment reads.
With winter only just beginning—and a whole new season of the show to add to Alexander’s to-do list—the baker still has plenty of weeks left in her metaphorical tent. On your marks, get set...bake!
How involved is this grand plan? I assume you’ve had to watch every episode, make spreadsheets, stock up on ingredients, etc.
I wing it more than I think people know. I just pull up the Netflix show and I'm like, “Okay. So what am I making today?”
Pretty much every Baking Show-themed video you make does really well on the app. What has the response been like?
People love it. Every time I post a video I worry because you hear people that are like, I got on like this horrible side of TikTok with a bunch of Trump supporters and they're all yelling at me. But I don't think I have a bad comment on there.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve made so far?
It's probably the Apricot Couronne, which was like a sweet loaf because I love making bread. But I also really liked the hazelnut Dacquoise. It was so good and it was so much easier than I thought it would have been.
What’s something you didn’t know how to make before that now you do?
I'm really good at making custard now.
What happens after you bake something? Do you eat every single one?
That's the hardest part. I'll make this massive thing and I usually can find a home for it, but every once in a while things that don't keep very well, sometimes [they] will get thrown away. I'm in an apartment, so my downstairs neighbors get some and then my friends get some. One time, [with] the Prinsesstarta cake, someone commented on TikTok and they're like, “I'm in Chicago. Can I have the cake?” I was like, “Will you take it?” And she did.
That's what I love about TikTok. It's such a massive community, but they feel like they're your friends because everything is online now.
Would you say TikTok is what’s getting you through the pandemic?
I didn't even realize how creatively deprived I had been until I made that first TikTok, and I'm not even using that much of my creative energy. And it was really nice. I definitely am thankful for it.
Most importantly, and no spoilers, but what did you think of the latest season of The Great British Baking Show?
The earlier seasons just are better. They used to do the history behind the bakes and now it's like, “Make a rainbow bagel.” I'm like, “I don't care about the rainbow bagel!”