Every year we eagerly anticipate the start of The Great British Bake Off season because, let’s face it, there’s nothing as deeply satisfying and oddly soothing as watching amateur bakers have a go at the challenges thrown their way from judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
And it looks like we’re not alone; 13.5 million Brits reportedly tuned in to watch the October finale of The Great British Bake Off last year making it one of the best loved British TV programmes ever.
This year’s contestants are a mixed bunch – there’s everyone from a super slimmer to a vegan baker, and even an aerospace engineer. But despite their qualifications, there has to be one person to leave the tent each week, and we’ll be keeping you in the loop with who’s fallen right here. Warning: Spoilers ahead…
Scroll down to learn more about the contestants who are busy in the Bake Off tent this series…
Contestants who have left The Great British Bake Off 2016
Episode Three: Michael, 20
Michael is from London but is currently living with four friends in Durham where he’s studying Politics and Economic. His family are originally from Cyprus and his heritage has a strong influence on his baking, he’s been making Greek Pastries with his nan since he was a small boy. The student kitchen is often busy so he conjures up his creations during the early hours or late at night.
Sadly, however, we waved goodbye to Michael after week three of the national competition when all the details of bread making got a little too much for him.
Episode Two: Louise, 46
Louise, from Cardiff, loves baking and decorating her cakes with elaborate designs, as well as experimenting with different flours and flavours when baking bread. When she’s not baking for family and friends she loves being outdoors and has completed various mountain walks, most notably a four day trek around the Andes.
It was with heavy hearts that we saw Louise leave the tent after she just couldn’t make her gingerbread house work during biscuit week. After lots of planning and prep the walls crumbled at the last minute leaving Louise with very little to show for herself. Despite her bad luck Mary credited the contestant for her attitude, saying, “full marks for carrying it all off with a big smile”.
Episode One: Lee, 67
Lee originally worked as a builder before changing career paths to study
theology. He has worked in various pastoral ministries for the past 30 years, and most recently as the Pastor of a local church in Bolton where he lives. Lee likes traditional flavours; cherry, hazelnut, vanilla and chocolate. He doesn’t tend to veer too far from the norm but does enjoy a taste of the exotic every now and again.
Even Lee’s chirppy nature couldn’t keep him afloat when faced with a genoise. It was this that was his downfall after the judges declared it ‘rubbery’ and said it lacked cream. Poor Lee!
Contestants who are still competing to be the winner The Great British Bake Off 2016
Tom grew up in Rochdale, but now lives in London and works for the Royal Society of Arts. He recently lost an incredible 30kg, so his mentality towards food is now ‘Have your cake and eat it’ – as long as it’s in moderation. Tom loves to make his own cheese and salami, and likes to surprise those he’s feeding with unexpected ingredients. We wonder how Mary will feel about that?
Semi-retired teacher Val is originally from Doncaster, but now lives with husband Ian near Yeovil. She says her baking style is traditional and she can make the classics with her eyes closed, but she also enjoys searching the internet, finding new recipes. She loves incorporating baking into her teaching so that the children can grow up with as much passion for it as she did. Hopefully she’ll teach us something!
Originally from Ghana, Selasi moved to the UK with his family 15 years ago and now lives with his girlfriend in London. He works long hours, but always finds time to bake and colleagues are often shocked by the delicate cupcakes he makes for their charity bake sales. Besides his obvious passion for baking, Selasi enjoys fundraising for several charities. He has recently raised money by running a 10k, half marathon and trekking through Malawi and continues to support two new charities each year through various activities and challenges.
Candice was taught to bake by her beloved Nan, and strives to emulate her bakes aiming to be “even half the lady she was.” She loves everything vintage and though she usually bakes in her PJs, she has been known to break in a new pair of heels whilst baking too. Our kind of woman!
Rav studied Criminology at university but took a different career path and
now loves his job supporting students at City University London. He is adventurous and experimental with his baking and likes to use a whole range of unusual ingredients. He thinks he has a good sense of flavour combinations, even if they might seem strange to others. He is especially inspired by far eastern cuisine and likes vegan baking.
Jane lives in Beckenham with husband Ray where she designs gardens for a living. She loves traditional flavours and baking classic cakes, biscuits and pastry but isn’t afraid to try new challenges. She’s calm under pressure so long as it’s not her nemeses, macarons or ciabatta.
Graduate Benjamina is currently working as a teaching assistant. She takes pride in her presentation and follows online cake fashions for inspiration. She was a straight A student throughout her time at school and aims just as highly in her baking so isn’t happy when things don’t turn out picture-perfect.
Andrew is originally from Northern Ireland but currently lives with three friends in Derby where he works as an aerospace engineer for Rolls-Royce, designing jet engines. Andrew strives to make all his bakes look beautiful, he loves to push the boundaries of design and baking, and for his next big ambitious bake he’s designing a baguette concorde.
Mother of two Kate is a qualified nurse and works on an acute respiratory ward. She’s had a passion for baking since she was a child and loves using seasonal fruits and produce which she gathers with her children from her parents’ farm. As well as her everyday family baking Kate will work through the night to produce flawless sugar craft creations, which we have a feeling Mary will be very fond of…
What challenges will Bake Off contestants face?
Each week the chosen amateurs are instructed to make three different categories of Bake Off recipes, which can be simple baking basics like choux pastry or straightforward layer cakes to some pretty challenging masterpieces like Cypriot flaounes and spanische windtortes. Err, exactly.
These three categories are broken down into the signature, technical and showstopper challenges, which test each contestant’s strengths and weaknesses in varying ways.
The signature challenge is the best way contestants can show off their baking skills as they’re allowed to practice from home beforehand, having been given the brief long before they need to head into the tent. These are tried and tested recipes and usually have to be themed around a certain flavour, theme or bake style.
The technical challenge in The Great British Bake Off is where Mary and Paul come into their own. Each week they set a task to make multiple numbers of one particular thing. So if it was ‘pie week’, for instance, the bakers might have to make a dozen hot water crust pies. The contestants are given very minimal instructions and measurements and must use their experience and baking know-how to figure out the finer details of the recipe.
The showstopper challenge must be our favourite round, where the bakers are tasked with producing a cake, biscuit or bread that will impress on both looks and taste. These are usually huge, gravity-challenging creations that have some sort of 3d element, like Paul’s bread lion from the last series.
After all three rounds have been completed the person who has been the best baker overall with be crowned ‘star baker’ while another contestant will be voted out of the competition.
Fancy becoming a Great British Bake Off contestant yourself?
The good news is that anyone can enter The Great British Bake Off as long as you meet a few relatively straightforward points. You must: Be over 16 by the time they start filming (which is usually around February each year)
– Be a resident of the UK
– Have never been a professional cook, chef or baker before
– Have no official cookery or baking qualifications from the past ten
– Be able to commit to all of the filming days, which are roughly
spread over four months.
Think you’ve got what it takes? Applications are usually open around Christmas time, while they close towards January. The Great British Bake Off official websites says they’re looking for home cooks with “a real passion for baking” and asks applicants describe themselves, giving details about your personality, likes, dislikes and greatest baking moments.
They also add: “while we want to hear about what you’re good at, we also want to know about the areas that you’re not so good at or have no experience in and why. This is purely to get a clearer idea of what kind of baker you are.”