In Tuesday’s night’s episode of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4, Giuseppe was named Star Baker for the first time and Rochica, 27 from Birmingham was the third baker to leave the tent.
It was week three and time to bake bread! The remaining bakers had a lot to prove with three tough challenges set by judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. They put their own twist on a classic Italian focaccia in the signature and made a Greek inspired snack for the technical challenge. Finally the bakers were tasked with creating an ambitious, artistic showstopper by rendering decorative designs in Milk Bread.
At the end of the third episode Noel announced that Giuseppe was the Star Baker. Matt then had the less fun job of announcing who was going home, and that person was Rochica. On the show Rochica said: ‘It’s come to an end but I have really really enjoyed it and not everyone gets to bake in the Bake Off Tent so I am proud of where I have got to. And I am just going to keep baking!’
‘My feelings were very mixed as I was looking forward to seeing all my family again of course. But I was disappointed that I hadn’t done as well as I had done in the practice sessions. I guess it’s just the way it goes on the day, even though I had pulled them off quite well in the practice, it didn’t work as well in the actual tent. It just wasn’t my Bake Off day!
Here Rochica talks about her experience: ‘In the first challenge I made tomato, red onion and feta flowers for my focaccia, I thought it looked quite pretty. On the breadsticks challenge the Judges said mine were too pale, and a little bit raw. My tzatziki was good and the judges were pleased with that. I think my Cinnamon and Nutmeg Birdcage for the Showstopper wasn’t as elaborate as some of the other Showstoppers. I knew it was definitely my worst week and I wasn’t going to get another chance, I actually got quite emotional at that moment.
‘I have learned not to put so much pressure on myself and have more fun! My best moment was being able to fix my apple cake although I wasn’t happy with the appearance. I was pleased to finish all the brandy snaps in the Biscuit Signature and I think that was my favourite challenge overall as I was happy with how they tasted . Worst moments were when Paul said my bread Showstopper looked like 1.5 hours work instead of 4 hours. And of course, the Technical Challenges in weeks 2 and 3 – do I even know how to work an oven?!
‘I am not sure what is beckoning for me in the baking world, but I do want to showcase my bakes and reveal my full potential, but without a ticking clock! I will take a lot away from my experience on Bake Off, and mainly to have more confidence in myself and my abilities. I haven’t been baking that long, so it’s now a whole new baking world out there for me and I am excited to see what recipes I will come up with.
‘Matt and Noel would sometimes come over at a stressful time, but they always made me laugh. They both like to banter with you and it takes the tension out of the challenge. Prue and Paul totally lived up to my expectations and I wanted to impress them both equally. I worked on my flavours for Prue and uniformity of my bakes for Paul. I am proud of my Caribbean heritage and flavours, and I always tried to bring spices to the Showstoppers.
‘My dad has been watching the episodes five times over, he knows them off by heart by now. The family have been so supportive and it’s been lovely to see and share their reactions, especially the kids. Nieces and nephews, my Nan, mum and sister have been messaging me throughout the episodes, so I have to watch them again the next day in case I missed something!
‘It’s been wonderful to get such a good reaction on social media each week to what I am wearing. If I had known there would be that much interest I might have put more effort into my outfits! I like bright colours and floral patterns, and my nan has taught me how to sew so I am going to be a bit more creative when I am not baking. I also love my dancing and I was doing online classes during Lockdown so I am thinking of going back to join a dance class, not do it virtually!
‘I will make a cake for each week while the other Bakers are on, I like to bake along with the show and keep up with them on our What’s App group – the phone never stops buzzing on a Wednesday morning after the show.
‘Really looking forward to An Extra Slice as I have been watching Jo since I was little and I think Tom is hilarious, so I really can’t wait to meet them and see how it all works in the studio.’
Rochica will join Jo Brand and Tom Allen on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday 8 October on Channel 4 at 8.00 pm.
Q&A with Rochica:
*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?
Everyone was so nice and easy to live with. We all supported each other and we had a lot of fun!
*What did you enjoy most about being in the bubble and what did you miss most about being away from home?
I enjoyed making new friends however, I did miss my family.
*Did you pack a lucky item for your stay?
I wore a necklace from my dad and earrings from my mom so they were always with me.
*During the filming time when you were away from home, where did you say you were to friends?
I said I was working away, however, my mom told other family members a completely different story which made things so awkward haha!
*Can you describe the bakers as a group this year?
A funny family! We’re always laughing. We speak every day in the WhatsApp group.
*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 was so nervous as it wasn’t as neat as it was in practice. The technical is fine until they get to your bake and you have to keep a straight face.
*Having watched Bake Off in the past, was the first day in the tent what you expected?
The first day was definitely longer than expected, however, it felt strangely familiar because it was similar to past episodes.
*Are you a messy or tidy baker?
I try to tidy as I go, but if I’m in a rush, I can get messy.
*Who is your baking inspiration and what age did you start baking?
My niece inspired me to bake when she asked me to make her birthday cake. I started baking at 24.
*The Bake Off family is a very exclusive club, how do you feel being a new member?
I feel extremely proud!
*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.
I think the nicest thing I have done is make a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea for my mom. I also delivered an afternoon tea box to my Nan, Auntie and Sister as this was during lockdown. The first Mother’s Day we couldn’t all be together.
* What is the cake you get asked to make the most for friends and family?
I mainly bake for the kids, so I usually get asked to make a vanilla, or chocolate cake.
My dad loves my vegan coconut cake and carrot cake. I also get asked to make Jamaican Bun as my version is way more authentic than the ones you find in stores.
*If you were a cake what would you be and why?
If I was a cake I would be my caramel apple cake, as it’s sweet and flavourful.
*In three words how would you describe yourself?
Bubbly, friendly, funny.
*Are there any bakes or flavours that you really dislike?
I don’t like swiss rolls!
*When baking at home what do you have on in the background – music/TV/podcast/radio?
I usually listen to podcasts or music.
*Do you think work colleagues and friends will be shocked to see you on TV?
I think they will as not many people know I bake! I’m most excited for my nieces, nephews and cousins to see me as they don’t know and they are my biggest inspiration!
* What do you think it will be like watching yourself on television? Behind a cushion or on delayed record?
I will definitely need to watch with family! I’ll probably be hiding my face most of the time.
Junior HR Business Partner
With a big Jamaican family on both sides, Rochica bakes in a way that reflects her Caribbean heritage: with flavour, passion and love. She always is especially proud when her nan and aunties tell her she has baked a cake that reminds them of the treats they grew up with. A dancer from the age of two, Rochica’s interest in baking developed when she was left unable to dance due to an injury that left her unable to walk for months. Although she has started dancing again, she still finds plenty of time and reasons to bake – her nephew expects biscuits when she collects him from nursery and she particularly loved the challenge of baking a birthday cake to live up to her niece’s vivid imagination.