Candice Brown has had an incredible year since being crowned the winner of Great British Bake Off, swapping teaching for baking in a bid to pursue her passion. Now ahead of the release of her debut cookbook, the 32-year-old has teamed up with NOW TV to create a range of Easter 'Tot Cross Buns' inspired by some of TV's much-loved characters. We caught up with Candice to discover the inspiration behind her new recipes, how she has adjusted to her new-found fame and what she thinks about the new Great British Bake Off line-up following its move to Channel 4.
It's been a life-changing year since you won the Bake off – what has been your favourite memory so far?
My favourite memory is definitely the moment when it was revealed that I'd won Great British Bake Off. That memory will stay with me forever. It's funny because when I was in the throes of the competition I couldn't really remember the feelings and emotions but I do remember the winning moment and it was just unbelievable!
Candice Brown has teamed up with NOW TV to create a range of 'Tot Cross Buns'
Since winning I've had the amazing opportunity to go to events like The Pride of Britain where I met some truly amazing and inspiring people who have done incredible, selfless things. I also got to meet some of my sporting idols at the Sports Personality of the Year including Chris Hoy and Paula Radcliffe. I was so embarrassed to speak to Chris and kept going up to him and then chickening out and running back but on the third he clocked me hovering near him and so I had to say hello because it looked so weird. I had a lovely chat with Paula Radcliffe and asked her about running the marathon which I'd love to do one day. And I asked Jamie Redknapp if his Dad could come round for tea as he's something of a legend with my family!
Finally, seeing the cover of my new book for the first time has been an all-time favourite memory. I'm so proud that it's all mine. It’s been such a busy year!
Candice won the Great British Bake Off in 2016
Have you stayed in touch with your fellow Bake Off contestants since leaving the show?
Yeah we speak pretty much every day, we've got a little WhatsApp group and I'm going out with a few of them on Friday which is exciting. We speak a lot and I ask their opinion and for advice, or we just take the micky out of each other! But they are really good mates, I was lucky to be put with those lot because they are all great at what they do!
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What about the judges?
Unfortunately they are not on the WhatsApp group! But yes I've seen Mary a few times at awards and she's just a machine, great and really loves what she's doing. Paul is just great, he's got his programme out at the moment which is just incredible and he's just here, there and everywhere. They are all good though, really supportive of me.
Candice said she speaks to her fellow Bake Off contestants 'pretty much every day'
What do you think about the new line-up for Channel 4?
I think it will be different but I'm excited about it and looking forward to watching it. I think the relationship between Noel and Sandi will be great to see on screen.
How have you adjusted to life since leaving teaching?
It was a big adjustment and I still think about it a lot but I got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do amazing things and I have just been so lucky that the school have been so supportive of me. They told me to go out there and just enjoy it and run with it. Like well done! But it's just insane, I get to do what I love and I love doing it! I'm getting to bake all the time and meet amazing people and going to great events.
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It's strange to adjust to being recognised. Recently I was walking down the street with Dennis my pug wearing no make-up and a hoodie and someone recognised Dennis before they recognised me! She said "Ah I thought it was you but I knew it was you when I saw the dog." So it was Dennis, my pug who's getting recognised. He's such a diva! I actually also got recognised, again with no make-up on and this older lady said "oh your lips do really look like that" then off she trotted quite happy with herself! Overall, everyone is so nice, really lovely! But they're funny, they just seem to know about Dennis or Liam and they'll ask about my mum and dad.
Candice admitted she is excited to see the new Great British Bake Off line-up
Your debut cookbook is being released this summer – what sort of thing can we expect?
I'm so excited, I still can't get my head around it then I saw the cover went out last night and I was like "Oh my god that's my book." It's a real mix of sweet and savoury, cakes and bakes, hearty wholesome, and warming comfy comfort food. Everything in there has got a story or a memory attached to it. Things that I've learnt from my mum and nan. There are some of my nan's original recipes in there which I haven't changed because why would you try and change perfection? I've sort of come up with things that my other nan Ivy would have loved. There are things that I love and there are also things that I've tasted and decided to make. I'm just so proud of it, I've written every single recipe and tasted all of them myself. I love it, I haven't slept a lot but I've loved it. Can't wait for people to see it.
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Have you got any other special projects lined up?
I'm travelling the country in the summer doing loads of the food festivals which I love doing - it takes me all over the place from Bristol, to Brighton to Scotland! Personally, my new project is my gorgeous new Pomeranian rescue dog Sybil. I'll be training her up and giving her lots of cuddles – she's so cute, if a bit wonky! I'm also off for a nice Easter break with Liam this weekend by the seaside.
Watch the video above for Candice's 'Tot Cross Buns' recipes
Tell us about your new Easter recipes for NOW TV
This Easter I've overhauled the traditional hot cross bun and have created a range of limited edition bun recipes based on 4 amazing children's programmes to celebrate NOW TV's Kids Pass. I've called them my ‘Tot Cross Buns' and they are inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Power Puff Girls, SpongeBob SquarePants and Scooby Doo. I tried to come up with flavours that kids and adults would like – the SpongeBob SquarePants one is made with pineapples as SpongeBob lives in a Pineapple under the sea and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bun is pizza flavoured…like their favourite food! I've made a step-by-step 'how to' guide for making them at home so be sure to give them a go with the kids this Easter.
This Easter Candice Brown has created a range of 'Tot Cross Buns’, inspired by TV's best loved characters available to watch on NOW TV’s Kids Pass. All recipes are available at nowtv.uk/totcrossbuns