In Tuesday’s night’s episode of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4, Marc was named Star Baker and Rowan, 55 from Worcestershire was the third baker to leave the tent.
In week three of The Great British Bake Off our Bakers faced Bread Week and they had to prove themselves in three tough challenges set by judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. There was a sweet and savoury Signature with soda bread, then a Technical technicoloured bagel challenge that honoured the NHS, with finally an ambitious artistic Showstopper where they were asked to render decorative designs in a Bread plaque.
At the end of the third episode Matt announced that Marc was the Star Baker and Noel had the difficult job of telling Rowan that he would be leaving the tent. On hearing the result, Rowan said: ‘I feel very content, I have had a wonderful time. It’s been exhausting but very rewarding.’
Prue said: ‘Rowan has been such a character and I am sorry to see him go because he is so ambitious and so imaginative and he put so much thought into his baking.’
Here Rowan talks about his experience: ‘I started off fairly confident in bread week, I thought it was going to be alright. But the soda breads just didn’t quite cut it. Well the technical started off bang on, they were as perfect as they could be, but when I had to put them in the boiling water, it all went wrong from there. For my Showstopper I wanted to use Worcestershire cheese which is local but I had practiced with Stilton so the flavour was different.
‘I usually only bake bread for a special occasion, I would say it’s not my baking forte. But I didn’t mind leaving as someone has to go each week, that’s the nature of the show. I enjoyed every moment of my experience, I felt like I went out on a high in a way because I had really tried my best with the Showstopper but of course you are judged overall on all 3 challenges.
‘I tried to keep my timings down as that was one area I kept failing at, and in doing that I rushed the proving, and that really didn’t help. But I was pleased that my Showstopper did actually look quite good. They asked for spectacular so that is what I gave them, it’s a shame they didn’t like the taste so much.
‘I watch with my partner Paul and friends. Each week I have made something, I made a Quince Dacquoise for the first week with the fruit from the garden, for week two I made Rum Babas, and for the third week I made an old favourite a Gateau Vert, using pistachios. It was Monet’s favourite cake of course.
‘I hope I did bring a little bit of culture to the show with my Magic Flute Battenberg in the first episode. I have a huge love of opera and I am hoping to go to Glyndebourne this year to see the Magic Flute. I was an instrumentalist as a younger man and then went on to teach music, Mozart is my first love I have to say.
‘I loved my time on the show and I just went in being myself. It’s hard to avoid being myself! I wasn’t nervous and very quickly I decided that I just wanted to enjoy it and bake and have fun. That’s my route in life, just go for it, I am not reckless but I am certainly not over cautious as a personality. I just want to enjoy life.
‘Having a bit of banter with Noel and Matt really releases the tension, a bit of a comedy moment in the day breaks it up. They were a lot of fun, and really great. And endless cups of tea of course!
And I would absolutely look forward to a gin and tonic at the end of the day, I felt I deserved it.
‘It was fun staying at the hotel, it felt like a bit of boarding school experience but with better food.
I would do it all over again, but having quite long naps in between, and probably wear a watch the next time, that could help!
‘Prue and Paul were both very very kind and really supportive, and it’s true that you really want to impress them. They gave really very useful comments and you learn from them. I was touched by their care in trying to get me to do my best and make it work within the time.
‘I think both my worst AND best moment was Paul saying my soda bread was ‘like eating lemon drizzle cake in a sand-storm’. I was disappointed it hadn’t turned out as it had at home, but the comment was comedy gold.
‘I was a late comer to social media but when transmission was approaching I decided to embrace the 21st century, and enjoy my bake off experience and reading the funny comments. What has been lovely and touching is really old friends and colleagues, even past students getting in touch. Some from 20 odd years ago, and comments where students say how I helped them in their music studies is very moving and rewarding.
‘I think GBBO has changed my life in many ways. It has made me realise my passion for baking with fellow contestants, and people baking at home. I discovered making my own baking moulds in interesting and decorative shapes. Although it has made me more ambitious to make beautiful and delicious food (requiring far longer than the time allocations in GBBO!)
‘I fully intend to keep up with the other bakers, and have even met bakers from previous series. Now being a regular user on social media I’m shameless at keeping in touch with everyone – it’s really good fun and we are all a great support to each other. I am thrilled that viewers have found some of the programme and me amusing!
‘I will keep baking usually three times a week. I am going on a charity cycle ride Worcester to York – it’s about 160 miles that’s the next challenge on the list to do. Hoping to do it in two days, I have done it before in 3 days. My garden is really blooming at the moment, so I am hoping to do a bit of plant control as it has been growing luxuriously during Lockdown, but needs a bit of taming now.
‘I am not sure what is next for me in the baking world but I’d love to do something involving history, music and baking (beautiful Georgian houses, fabulous old pianos and elegant, naughty cakes) … ooh, AND waistcoats! I have made a gold brocade waistcoat to wear on An Extra Slice, all hand stitched, so I am hoping to compete sartorially with Tom Allen! He is so quick witted and charming with it, and I am really looking forward to meeting Jo – and for me again another fabulous experience to tick off my list!'
Rowan, 55, Worcestershire
Entirely self-taught, Rowan calls his baking style ostentatious – but, he hopes, tasteful. French pâtissérie is his absolute passion – he loves the subtlety of flavour, and the style and sophistication of French baking, and he is drawn to fine, complex, layered cakes. His love of the Georgian era encourages him to reinvent 18th-century recipes whenever he can. He enjoys decorating his bakes with flowers, preferably edible ones, using what is in bloom in his garden. A fitness enthusiast, Rowan swims a mile most mornings and is a keen cyclist and occasional horse-rider. He lives in Worcestershire with his partner, who shares his passion for music, the arts and theatre, and he can often be found in the British Library researching all things 1700s.
Rowan will join Jo Brand and Tom Allen on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday 9 October, Channel 4 at 8.00 pm.
Pictures: Duncan Webb at C4. DWebb@channel4.co.uk
A Love Production for Channel 4.