For around seven million of us, there’s a gaping hole on Tuesday nights now the latest series of The Great British Bake Off has come to an end.
But it’s not just those glorious gingerbread structures and plaited loaves that will be missed.
With his twinkly eyes, authoritative voice and enviable skills in the kitchen, judge Paul Hollywood has become a housewives’ favourite.
“It’s a bit of an embarrassment, but it’s very flattering. Any bloke who says it isn’t is a liar,” the married star says of his new-found attention.
“I get a lot of tweets and have had a couple of marriage proposals. I’m also contacted by lots of kids who want to get into baking. There’s a real cross-section.”
Indeed, the baking trend continues to sweep the nation, with new research by Kenwood revealing more than a third of us manage to bake every fortnight.
“It’s been popular for a long time. I think we’ve just highlighted it,” Hollywood says.
“Cooking can be a bit tricky, but baking is relatively quick and the basics are easy. Get a good recipe, get all your ingredients weighed up on digital scales and you end up with something that’s very palatable.”
Viewers saw Wigan-born law graduate John Whaite crowned surprise winner of the third series. He beat Brendan Lynch and James Morton to the crown after wowing Hollywood and co-judge Mary Berry with his ‘heaven and hell’ cake.
“We chose John because when you go into the final you go in there with a clean slate. It’s only if it’s really close that we have to look back on the series,” Hollywood explains.
“James failed on the day, and I don’t think Brendan quite managed to live up to John because John’s cake at the end was absolutely gorgeous.”
Hollywood is a dab hand at cakes himself, but it is for making bread that he is best known. He has his own artisan bread business, and reckons the humble loaf is the next big trend in baking.
“Cakes are still popular but are ebbing slightly. People could be moving on to healthy things. I think bread’s taken off in a big way - healthy breads, rye breads, wholemeal all seem to be on the rise, as well as home bread-making kits.” In his new book, How To Bake, he laments the fact that commercial baking has become ‘too focused on speed and profit’.