In Tuesday night’s episode of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4, Crystelle got a Hollywood Handshake and was named Star Baker for the first time by Matt. Amanda, 56 from London was the sixth baker to leave the tent.
It was Pastry week and Prue and Paul had set three tricky challenges to test the remaining bakers. First up, the bakers made choux pastry doughnuts, followed by a tricky Turkish technical. Finally, a savoury showstopper where they had to pack a pastry pie with flavour as well as a delicate design.
Noel had to deliver the bad news that it would be Amanda leaving the tent this week. On the show Amanda said: ‘You’ve got to go sometime haven’t you? I didn’t think I would get this far seeing all the other bakers. I came here to have a good time, and I have had such a good time, it is a little bit stressful here but it’s a kind of fun stress! Perhaps if I didn’t talk so much I might have gone a bit further, but I enjoyed it, and I am glad I did what I did’.
Here Amanda talks about her experience in the tent and getting to the sixth episode: ‘I really didn’t want to go but am feeling pretty good about myself that I got over the half-way mark. I will make the choux pastry doughnuts again [the Judges just didn’t like my traditional Greek rose flavouring]. And even though there were two Greeks in the tent our Baklavas weren’t that great – I hope that is the first and last time I will have to make one of those. And finally my terrine pie disintegrated as I tried to take it out of the tin. Chigs came to help me but even he couldn’t rescue the disaster.
‘ I think the most important thing I have learned from being in the tent is that I am more confident than I realised - which maybe because we were made to feel so welcome and comfortable. Nothing was too much trouble. I have learned to be more creative with my baking after being inspired by my Bake Off family.
‘My best experience in the tent by far, was singing show tunes with Matt and showing him my officer safety techniques! The worst was saying goodbye to the production team when I left the tent.
‘I am not sure what is ahead for me in the baking world, but I hope to spend more time baking as I approach retirement and maybe start a little YouTube channel of my own…
‘I loved all of my showstoppers but my favourite was the seabed in bread week. Not because I enjoyed making it but because I found it the most challenging to try and get the shapes of the octopus. On the day it came out the best I have ever done and I was so pleased with it.
‘My worst technical challenge, which wasn’t actually my baking worst but for me was shameful because I am Greek was the baklava challenge. But at least it was not as bad as George’s!!
‘I love early morning swimming as it helps to keep me active and it has given me a new lease of life. I originally began swimming when I had my first hot flush in the menopause. I actually get quite excited about the thought of getting in freezing cold water, and it sets me up for the day. If I don’t swim regularly I really miss it as it’s such an important part of my day.
‘My Greek heritage is obviously very important to me, particularly since my dad passed away just before the first lockdown. So we were able to spend time with him and I feel quite strongly that I want to carry on his Greek traditions with my family. At home we make a lot of Greek dishes and cakes, it’s good for my soul!
‘When it was announced that I was in Bake Off, the detectives that I work with [and they are pretty hard core as they are advanced interviewers ] started to interrogate me but I would not give in and just shout NDA at them and walk away. They are still asking me for who wins but my lips are sealed and I get round them by bringing in my brownies.
‘All the Bakers came to my house in August for a summer barbecue, my husband and I did all the main barbecue. Jurgen brought Pittas, all the other bakers bought a dessert, and it was such a lovely day. We all keep in touch, George and I live locally so we are always meeting up. I can’t wait to watch the series now, and looking forward to seeing who goes through to the semi final and the final.
‘My most memorable moment overall is that my Bake Off experience took me so far away from the harsh realities of the world - it will fill me with joy forever, and I will never forget it. Thank you Bake Off.’
Amanda will join Jo Brand and Tom Allen on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday 29 October on Channel 4 at 8.00 pm.
GBBO SERIES 12: AMANDA
*We filmed this series in a covid secure bubble again this year, how did it feel to be meeting and living with your fellow bakers?
Filming GBBO in a secure bubble was the most amazing experience. The bond between the 12 of us reminds me of the bond of my police family as we have to rely on each other in dangerous and stressful situations. The bakers all supported one another’s fears and helped each other in every way, despite us all being competitors. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of being with my bake off family. I have said from the beginning that whoever cast the 12 of us should start a dating agency….
*What did you enjoy most about being in the bubble and what did you miss most about being away from home?
I enjoyed being able to bake until my heart was content. That camaraderie between not only the bakers, but the whole production team was wonderful. Obviously I missed my husband and two girls.
*Did you pack a lucky item for your stay?
I am fascinated by seahorses and have numerous ornaments and seahorse jewellery at home. I brought my little multi coloured crystal seahorse to hang on my dresser in my hotel room.
*During the filming time when you were away from home, where did you say you were to friends?
Whilst I was filming the GBBO, I told friends and family that I was training police officers in Lancashire. They seemed to buy into that one.
*Can you describe the bakers as a group this year, and are you all on a what’s app group?
The 12 bakers are a fabulous mix of ages, nationalities, characters and upbringings with various interests. We were all brought together for our love of baking and each one of us fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. We speak to each other daily in our whatsapp group, we meet up with each other whenever possible and we all came together at my house this weekend for a BBQ. Everyone travelled from all over the country so that we could all be together, it was great to see everyone.
*How nervous were you when Paul and Prue started judging the first signature challenge and how does it feel when they are judging the technical challenge when they don’t know who has baked which item?
I did not feel at all nervous about Prue and Paul judging my first bake, and I also wanted to enjoy every moment of the experience. They actually gave very constructive feedback which was useful. Whilst the technical was being judged it was quite worrying as you never want to be the last, but if you are it really isn’t the worst thing in the world…
*Having watched Bake Off in the past, was the first day in the tent what you expected?
I always thought that being in the tent would be extremely stressful but the first day was surprisingly stress free.
*Are you a messy or tidy baker?
I think, this year, I took the crown for messiest baker …
*Who is your baking inspiration and what age did you start baking?
My mum was my baking inspiration as she tutored me through the annual home-made Christmas cake. I would have been about 8 years old and then after that my cookery teacher inspired me to take cookery as an ‘O’ level option.
*The Bake Off family is a very exclusive club, how do you feel being a new member?
I am so delighted and feel very privileged to now be part of the bake off family. I now have a new group of friends for life and I hope to meet my faves from past series at some stage in the future.
*The warmth and love you get in the Tent is a very special feeling, what is the nicest thing in baking you have done for anyone/or given them
As far as I am concerned food is love and I am a feeder. I thoroughly enjoy baking but even more than that is dishing the bakes out for my friends and colleagues to enjoy. I enjoy being creative and baking allows me to do that so every bake is a winner…
* What is the cake you get asked to make the most for friends and family?
Each of my friends have a different favourite flavour. My closest friend always sends me photos of lemon cakes as a hint. Another friend wants red velvet and my Mum and Nan enjoy my apple cakes. Most of my friends allow me to be creative and will eat whatever I make. However, sometimes when I experiment I know I need to try again if I come home with leftovers which happened recently when I took a dozen vegan banana muffins to work!
*If you were a cake what would you be and why?
I like to imagine I would be a light chiffon cake but the reality is a steamed pond pudding sponge they made in series 11…
*In three words how would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as honest, hospitable and flexible.
*Are there any bakes or flavours that you really dislike?
I am not a huge fan of marzipan so I can bypass any bakes with strong almond flavours depending on what they are paired with.
*When baking at home what do you have on in the background – music/TV/podcast/radio?
When I am baking I enjoy listening to music. Anything Jazzy, bluesy or something I can sing along to are most popular but Prince is always a popular playlist.
*Does it all seem a bit surreal that you have joined The Great British Bake Off family?
The whole GBBO experience has been extremely surreal. Even though I have lots of experience with the group, I still wonder if I am living a very long, vivid dream.
*Do you think work colleagues and friends will be shocked to see you on TV?
I have always told close friends and family that one day I will be on Bake Off! It will be a lovely surprise when they see me on the TV but I do not think anyone will be shocked that I applied…
* What do you think it will be like watching yourself on television? Behind a cushion or on delayed record?
I am not sure how I will watch myself on GBBO. I might have to watch it on my own so that I do not see my family cringing when they see me singing show tunes with Matt. I think the making of the show will be much more fun than watching myself on national TV which now sounds terrifying!
Met Police Detective
Raised in London with Greek-Cypriot heritage, Amanda studied graphic design at college and worked in advertising before moving to the Metropolitan Police to train as a detective. As a child she baked with her mum, and she learned specifically about Greek baking from her paternal auntie. Her style is generous and creative with Greek and Middle Eastern influences. She loves painting directly on to her cakes, often giving them a pretty, feminine aesthetic that’s inspired by her two daughters. Whatever the season, Amanda loves to start her day with an outdoor swim– the colder, the better!