Emmy GriffithsThe Great British Bake Off is nearly here! Meet the new contestants
Since the new series of Great British Bake Off is just around the corner, we think it's about time that we meet the new group of bakers! This is the youngest group that the Bake Off tent has ever seen, and range from geography teachers to fitness instructors! Check out everything you need to know about the new gang here…
A geography teacher from London, Alice got into baking following a back operation for scoliosis. She perfected the fruit pavlova while she was attending art school in New Zealand during her early 20s, before returning to the UK to train to be a geography teacher. Expect geographical cakes from Alice, since she uses her cakes in her lessons to demonstrate everything from coastal erosion to volcanic activity! According to the baker, her style is intricate and delicate, full of flavour and enthusiasm – and has to make people go ‘wow!’
Speaking about going into the tent, she said: "I have wanted to be in Bake Off ever since the show has started, but I wasn’t really good enough when I was 18. To be on such a big show doing something that you are passionate about is a huge thing. I also felt that to be accepted into the tent gave me the confidence to feel that I could bake. It was a dream come true!"
Jamie is a part-time waitron from Surrey, and learned his basic baking skills from his grandma and parents. However, it was watching Bake Off that inspired him to make a plaited loaf for the first time! Born and raised with his identical twin brother in Surrey, Jamie is working as a part-time waiter in the lead-up to studying Sports Science at university. Speaking about a cake that would signify the happiest day of his life, he said: "I would make a sphere cake of the tennis ball, sitting on a racquet [made of fondant, I think I would put strawberry laces as the strings]. I love orange for flavouring, and it would be a sponge cake."
Michelle is a Print Shop Administrator from Wales, and first fell in love with baking as a child watching her mother doing traditional baking at home. She grew up on a farm and now lives in the seaside town of Tenby with her husband and teenage son. Her bakes are precise and finessed, and created with an emphasis on good-quality, local produce. Speaking about the cake that signifies one of the happiest days of her life, she said: "The day we got married we christened our son on the same day. So we didn’t have a wedding cake, we had a cheese stack made of six tiers of Welsh cheese. So I would probably remake that as a cake. Our favourite cakes are chocolate cake and carrot cake. I would make one look like stilton, one would look like camembert, and various cheeses."
Rosie is a vet from Somerset, and has been baking since she was five! She grew up in a small town in Oxfordshire and studied at Cambridge. She now lives in Somerset with her childhood-sweetheart husband and many animals. With a love of patisserie, a little box of mixed pastries is Rosie’s ‘go-to’ bake. Her baking is inspired by her rural surroundings, from the orchards next door, to the fresh eggs laid by her ducks and chickens. Speaking about who she'd like to be stuck in a lift with from a previous season of GBBO, she said: "Steven from Series 8 because his bakes were always so creative so he must have loads of interesting ideas to talk about and make the time fly."
Helena, an online project manager from Leeds, spent much of her childhood watching her Spanish grandmother cook and bake, but it was only after moving to Las Vegas as part of an exchange scheme at school and living with a Mormon family that Helena really started baking. Speaking about going into the Bake off tent, she said: "I won a baking competition at work and that gave me the confidence to apply. Although when I learned that I had got in I had a bit of a confidence crisis thinking, can I possibly be good enough?" Speaking about her first day, she added: "I was literally numb on the first day, I couldn’t take it all in, really. It was such a blur, and it hit me afterwards that I had made it into the Tent."
A marketing consultant from Leicester, Priya’s first foray into baking started with an after-school baking club at primary school. She likes baking to help her relax, and has been known to bake bread well into the night and delivers bags of bakes to appreciative friends and family. Priya lives in her home town of Leicester with her husband and two children, and is writing her first novel.
Speaking about getting on the show, she said: "I downloaded the application for Bake Off in 2012 the year I got married but I thought I would never get in. I applied again last year, and then this year I got in and it was so dreamy and unreal. I was in no doubt it would change my life. And it taught me to pursue the things you love, and you just have to go for it."
Phil is a HGV Driver from Essex, and started to take baking seriously six years ago. Since then, he now bakes four or five times a week, frequently making focaccia, granary bread and brioche, but also pastry (he likes the challenge of hot-water crust, puff and choux). He lives in Rainham, with his wife and two daughters. Speaking about his first week on Bake Off, he said: "My memory of the first week is being minibussed into the site and seeing the tent, those wonderful white peaks and thinking that this is happening, it’s not just a dream. I have yearned for this for years, it’s amazing."
Michael, a theatre manager/fitness instructor from Stratford-upon-Avon, was taught to bake by his mum. He was born in Newcastle, but considers himself Scottish as he moved to Scone in Scotland at age seven and studied in Edinburgh. In his baking, though, he is especially inspired by the flavours of his Indian heritage. Speaking about who will be most surprised that he is taking part in Bake Off, he said: "My grandma, as she will be totally speechless, she would have to sit down in a quiet room and have a cup of tea. She is very chatty usually but I know this will shock her."
David is an International Health Adviser and grew up in rural Yorkshire before moving to London. His passion was developed by his travels to Malawi with his work as a Health Advisor, where he learnt to build an oven out of an oil drum and invented a cake that could steam cook over a village fire! He studied art and design at university before switching to nursing, and enjoys cycling and ceramics. Speaking about who would be the most surprised that he is on Bake Off, he said: "My pottery class because I bring bakes to the class each week and they kept encouraging me to apply."
A student from Durham, Henry's love of baking began at the age of 12, when he became fascinated by the baking activity taking place in the beautiful Bake Off tent situated at his local park. Speaking about their first day of filming, he said: "I told Paul that I remembered him filming at Valentine’s for series 2 and we had a chat about that and shared our memories of that time. So he knew I had come full circle and was now in the Tent, and that was pretty special."
Fashion designer Amelia from Halifax has been baking since she was just five. She perfected her baking skills while at university, and regularly made treats for friends and college fundraising events. Now living in London and working as a sportswear designer, Amelia likes to draw on her northern roots to inspire her baking and believes that freshly farmed produce is essential for a satisfying bake. Speaking about her first week in the tent, she said: "It was all so much fun, meeting all the bakers, meeting the judges and presenters, there wasn’t one moment from that first week that I didn’t enjoy. It was magical."
Steph, a shop assistant from Chester, got into baking thanks to her grandad and his homemade bread! She’s always loved making a mess in the kitchen, but she has been baking with a vengeance for the past three or so years. She lives in Chester with her mum, and her passion for sports and wellness inspires her baking: she enjoys the challenge of making her bakes healthier, adding vegetables or fruits, lowering the refined sugar content and prioritising more nutritional fats. Speaking about which baker from a previous season she'd want to be stuck in a lift with, she said: "Ruby Tandoh, because she was great when she was on the show, I think she is a really interesting character and I would love to meet her."
A support worker from Rotherham, Dan is a self-taught baker, but remembers that his mum taught him how to bake a Victoria sponge as a youngster, while his dad, an army chef, once visited his school to teach his classmates how to plait and bake bread. Dan’s favourite part of the baking process is decoration and he loves producing awe-inspiring bakes – so expect great things from him! Speaking about his favourite baker from past seasons, he said: "I think Iain Watters, he was quite a character. He is tall like me so perhaps we could help each other get out, and he would have construction knowledge!"