One of my guilty pleasures that I enjoy sharing with my kids is the show, “The Great British Bake Off.” You can check it out on Netflix if you haven’t watched it yet. My kids absolutely love it and we often spend evenings folding laundry and watching the latest episode of “Bake Off” (or the Great British Baking Show as they call it here in the U.S.). It is equal parts funny, challenging and just endearing. We love it. During March and April of this past year, I surprised my kids with their own “Great Family Bake Off” where they completed three challenges and were judged on what they made. You can check it out here. My kids loved it so much that they begged to do it again. And again. And again. Until I finally agreed and decided to make it a larger “reunion-style” family affair.
The Great Family Bake Off: Family Reunion Style Bake Off
That’s how “The Great Family Bake Off–Reunion Style” was born. This past summer we drove cross country to be with my parents and siblings for about a month of our Covid-style summer. I planned out a “Reunion-style” bake off and paired the kids up with adults who wanted to participate (those who chose not to participate in the cooking still participated as judges). This entire day was such a hit and so much fun that my family has asked to do it every year.
An episode of Bake Off takes you through three rounds. A signature challenge, a technical challenge and a show stopper challenge. Our Reunion-style Bake Off took us through these three challenges: Cookies for the Signature, Rice Krispy Treats for the technical and Pie for the show stopper. We drew names for teams a few days before the competition and gave the teams time to brainstorm for their signature and show stopper challenges. Ingredients were purchased and imaginations ran wild. This was almost as much fun as baking everything!
We chose teams about a week in advance to give them time to brainstorm and collaborate. You can print the planning worksheet below to help you out. Teams were selected somewhat randomly (drawing names out of a hat) but we did pair up the younger bakers with an adult because this bake off called for more intricate recipes.
Signature Round: Cookies, 1 hour
We gave each team one hour to make and bake their best cookie recipe. Cookies were judged on presentation, uniformity and taste. One of our teams was dairy free and gluten free and had no trouble coming up with delicious recipes. We tasted super creative cookies this round: gluten free sandwich cookies, salted caramel cookies, “lolipop” cookies and mint oreo cookies. All were stellar and hard to choose a winner!
Technical Challenge: Rice Krispie Treats, 30 minutes
One of my sisters is gluten free (and she was dairy free at the time due to a nursing baby) so I picked rice krispie treats for the technical challenge as it is easily gluten and dairy free. Portion out the butter, marshmallows, rice krispies, salt and vanilla into the number of teams you have. Give everyone their own ingredients and this “recipe.” The “contestants” have to follow the recipe and figure it out without any help from you. This challenge is also judged “blind,” so the judges can rank them in order from best to worst.
Show Stopper Round: Pie, 2 hours
The pie challenge requires a bit more time. The pies should be properly baked (or chilled) and mostly cooled within the 2 hour time period. We had four very different pies: a candy pie, a charcuterie board of mini pies, a pizookie pie and a potato pie. All of the pies were amazing, but the potato pie was gobbled up (probably because we had been taste-testing sugar all day). Contestants can make any kind of pie they want: sweet, savory, mini pies…the sky is the limit!
After each round of baking, bring the judges in to judge the round. This is a lot of fun for the other family members who are not participating in the competition. Make sure to have some small plates, forks and napkins for the judges as needed. At the end of the entire competition judges can award “Star Baker” to one team or judges could come up with different awards to give to each team who participated. Depends on how “competitive” you want this experience to be.
This was such a fun day for a family reunion. The groups were so creative. Everyone shined in the show stopper round and they are still talking about this fun experience…six months later. No one in our group ended up winning (you can watch the video and see the shoutouts given to each group) but I think we all came out winners with extra treats to eat throughout our reunion and memories to last a lifetime.