What a year it was!
It all started about a year ago, when at the insistence of a few friends I filled in the application form for the Great British Bake Off series 5. The BBC programme had become a cultural phenomenon and had got me even more interested in baking than I already was. I wasn’t thinking for a single minute that I would actually even get a phone call. But the phone call did come a few days later, just when I reached my daughter’s school to pick her up. It was busy and noisy but I was too scared to ask them to call me back as I thought they might not bother (silly me!). I had a lovely conversation and was told that they will let me know if I am through to the next round in a few days.
Then came Christmas, which was a good distraction from all the nervous waiting I had to do. With the New Year came the good news that I was through to the next round and was asked to go to London with 2 bakes of my choice. It turned out it was not as easy as it sounded. It seemed like the biggest decision at that time, what to BAKE? After careful thinking and long discussions with my husband and 2 of my dear friends I decided the bakes. They liked my bakes and I was summoned to London for the next stage of the process.
For the next audition I found myself in a room full of hopeful Bake Off contenders, all looking a bit nervous just like me. I looked around, trying to smile and spotted Enwezor and Luis in the crowd. I said hello to them not knowing that they were about to become such dear friends. I found myself baking next to Iain and later told my husband that I had met this guy, who I bet will be one of the final 12 bakers. How right was I! Little did I know that I would be one of the 12 too.
So after waiting for what seemed like forever came the most amazing news. News I could only dream of that I was chosen as one of the 12 bakers for series 5 of The GBBO on BBC ONE. But I couldn’t really celebrate because I was sworn to secrecy. From this moment on it felt like I was living a dream. It started to feel a bit more real when I had to workout the recipes that I would be baking in the tent.
And this really was the start of the baking madness. Long hours sitting in the kitchen, writing things down, baking late at nights trying to come up with my own recipes. But all of this was very satisfying and enjoyable. Trying to come up with new flavour combinations and bakes was all very exciting.
Then came the day when we headed to the tent for the first time. We had met all the bakers for our very first meal together the night before, and had started to feel at ease with each other. Next morning as we walked towards the tent I remember gasping with excitement. I will never forget the first time I entered the tent and got this surreal feeling of being inside the television. It was suddenly all real and actually happening to me.
The following ten weeks were totally amazing. I got to know the bakers, the judges, the most amazing team of Love Productions, and of course Mel and Sue. It was very stressful in the tent but slowly the fun took over and we all had a great time doing what we like most, baking! This experience brought us bakers very close as we were all going through this unique experience together but were unable to share this with others outside the tent. I loved every single bit of being in the tent and the final week brought all of us together again to watch the crowning of the winner.
The journey in the tent had come to an end but no one had prepared us for what was to come once the show went on air. It was a roller coaster ride with so much love and support coming from all corners of the country and beyond. I was very touched with all the love I got from my local community. I fell in love with my little seaside town of Broadstairs even more, if that was possible. Looking back, the last year has gone in a flash and I have done things I couldn’t even dream of. 2014 will stay with me forever and I hope that the coming year will bring more exciting and creative things in my life.
The show was a great success and was one of the most watched television programmes of 2014, with 13 million viewers watching the final episode. The show has now gone on air on PBS in America and will soon be on air on Lifestyle Food in Australia.
I would encourage any keen bakers to apply for the next series of GBBO. There can’t be a more exciting and rewarding experience for someone who enjoys baking.
Wish you all a very happy new year. Stay happy and keep baking!