One more sleep and it’s the return of The Great British Bake Off. I’ve got a soggy bottom just thinking about it. And who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the canvas of the GBBO tent?
I’d love to know if Paul really stands alone at the back dancing to the Nolan sisters, as was once suggested by Mel & Sue…
Anyway, as an Access All Areas pass wasn’t available, I did the next best thing and tracked down series three winner John Whaite.
Girl About Tech: We often see the contestants struggling with some of the gadgets and appliances on GBBO in the first few rounds. Do you get any training on how to use them?
John Whaite: You do get training. Lynne from Neff comes into the tent and tells you how to work the induction hobs and Slide&Hide ovens.
Of course, it is a different oven and it takes a bit of getting used to. But when you read the manual and see the demonstration you realize how easy they are. Also, they’ve got a really gorgeous new-oven smell. Every time I walked into the Bake Off tent and caught a whiff of the Neff ovens, I’d think ‘I’m home’.
GAT: So did the oven ever catch you out?
JW: You do make mistakes when you’re in that tent – you forget things you‘ve been taught because it’s such a pressurised situation. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, thinking ‘I was meant to put the oven 20 degrees lower’ or ‘I should have put the cake on the first shelf’.
I did pick up one trick, though. If you ever go on Bake Off and something goes wrong, swear like a trooper, as then they can’t broadcast it on the BBC!
GAT: What’s your view on cupcakes?JW: There are all these trendy people that claim they hate them, and when I’m in a bad mood on a Friday night I’ve been known to say: ‘I’m sick of cupcakes, get me a bottle of wine and a curry’.
But one good thing about them is that you don’t have to think about the rest of the cake sat in the cupboard, waiting for you to eat it.
You can also freeze them, get one out at breakfast time, come back to it in the evening and you’ve got a cake to eat after your tea.
GAT: How do you rescue a bad bake?JW: You can make almost any rubbish cake into something quite pretty. Get it out of the tin, trim it to make it neat, then slice it into very thin, Swedish cake-style layers, and pile them up on a cake stand with cream, mascarpone, maybe some cherries and chocolate here and there, and you’ve got a very tall, impressive cake.
Redcurrants always look great –they are quite tangy, but if you add them to a sweet icing they taste so good.
GAT: Do you have a routine to get your hands ‘TV ready’?
JW: Are you asking if I buff my nails? Do I heck! I’m a farmer’s lad, so if I buffed my nails I’d get lynched. I don’t even have time to moisturise these days. I use cakes to moisturise – doughnuts moisturise you from within!
GAT: What was your most terrifying Bake Off moment?
JW: The scariest moment was when I cut my finger open and I had to go to hospital. I wanted to finish my strudel but that didn’t happen. I do have a tiny little scar – it’s like a war wound!
GAT: Mary or Paul – who’s your favourite?
JW: I love them both in different ways, for different reasons. Mary is the queen of baking – well of everything, really. There’s nothing she can’t do.