How would you describe your role in Junior Bake Off, and what does this series promise?
First of all I am a judge for the first time, and the series promises amazing bakes and great personalities. As young bakers they do not have inhibitions but plenty of ambition and adrenaline and that’s exciting. They are all passionate about what they do.
Are the kids this year as good as The Great British Bake Off contestants?
There were moments where they were mainstream Bake Off standard, if not Bake Off Professionals standard in terms of flavour combinations and ideas.
What did you enjoy the most working on the series?
Working with Prue and Harry was great and just seeing how the junior bakers came up with ideas. They were inspiring me! And I learned from Harry and Prue and the Bakers themselves.
Can you tell us your signature bake or what you get most asked to bake for family and friends?
It has to be the curry goat pie that I made in Week 6 of Bake Off, or any kind of layered cake. The salted nutter on Liam Bakes I get asked to make loads.
Who is your best/worst critic?
My best critic would be my nephews or my nan, so you have the super young and my nan who isn’t so young. Either the filter of being diplomatic has gone or they haven’t developed it yet. Worst critic would be Trolls on social media.
Where is the location for Junior Bake Off ?
We filmed in the grounds of a school in Kent. There was a massive field but the only down side was I didn’t like the wasps, but I guess we have to blame the tent and the sugar and it being summer, but I did end up getting used to them. There was a golf buggy on site and I loved driving that around when I had a sugar high - it got rid of some of the energy!
What do the presenters and Judges do backstage when they are not filming?
Chilling and hanging out with the crew. And when I am not tasting bakes I do eat a lot.
Any disasters with filming where you got the giggles and had to start again?
Oh my days, yes. There was this one time when one of the bakers had a flavour combination and one of the two was a bit too strong. And I was trying to say to camera it’s better to have less of this and more of that. It took about 4 takes and I wasn’t making any sense, so we just said let’s scrap it. We were all cracking up.
Can you describe the atmosphere on set for the first and last day?
It’s funny because in one heat they were buzzing from the get go on the first day, like kids in a sweet shop, literally. But the second heat was more focussed, so when they all got together their personalities were just rubbing off on each other and there was a lot of adrenaline flying around. The energy in the tent on the final day was insane. The Bakers were there because they genuinely love baking. I felt really proud of them all as individuals.
Who has given you the best advice on baking, been your inspiration or someone who encouraged you in the first place?
Creative bakers like Dominique Ansell, Christina Tosi, have a distinct way of baking - their ideas are so different to everyone else. They are a great inspiration to me.
What did you cook at school, and were you a good pupil?
I didn’t study home economics at school, although it was available. In younger years I made chocolate brownies. I think I was a good pupil as I didn’t like to be in trouble, although I was cheeky and talked a lot.
What is your best childhood memory of baking?
Well I started baking when I was 16, so where does being a child end? The very first thing I made were super flat dense lemon cup cakes for my Maths tutor at home, that had green sprinkles which I thought at the time were the best thing ever, but they weren’t!
Will your nephews love watching you on Junior Bake Off?
Sometimes they tell me to grow up and they ask me why do you act so young? So I think they will enjoy this as I am trying to be a bit more serious as a Judge, but playful at the same time.
Who was your favourite teacher and why, and what was your best subject at school?
One of them was the head of sixth form and he encouraged me to do my cake sales in Stoke Newington so a shout out to him as he gave me that platform. My favourite subject was drama – I could be silly and express myself.
Can you name your best moment filming Junior Bake Off, And your worst!
Best moment I think has to be when one of the Bakers did extremely well and we do a dance together and co-ordinated really well, that was sick. And my worst moment I would have to say is that as my face is so expressive when I don’t like something you can see it on my face before I even say anything. I don’t like having to say that it’s not great, that’s my least favourite moment, it’s not a great feeling.
How will you watch the show, and will you have cake?
I will probably have a bit of a celebration for the first episode with friends and family, like I did when I was in Bake Off. I did the same for Professionals, and Liam Bakes, so it’s only right to do it for this one, it’s my first time as a Judge! I will bake something but that’s going to be a surprise.
Do you think baking should be on the national curriculum and taught in schools?
I think home economics/baking should definitely be on the national curriculum, you need to eat to survive. The wave of interest in baking has been amazing, and it’s a life skill. You can learn the basics like Maths and English, but you need to know how to cook. It has to be.
Do you bake for your nephews and how important is it to do so?
I haven’t for a while and they keep nagging me to do so, but in the meantime we do discuss ideas and I am always around to help them. I still try and make their birthday cakes and they love that.
Did you learn anything from the kids taking part this year, anything that surprised you?
I really learned from the kids and there is something in this series that I have never ever seen before, where a baker comes up with a completely new cake. I can’t say any more than that without it being a spoiler!
Worst memory of a kid’s party – it can have be from any time - as a child or adult
So there was a party when I was at primary school in the summer, but my mum said I can only go if I wear sandals. I hated wearing sandals so much, but I knew I had to wear them to go. And then a girl in an older year came up to me and said oh you are wearing sandals, I cried and that was pretty scarring.
Bake Off is all about encouraging the bakers to do the best they can. Did the kids grow in confidence and can they see how baking could develop that confidence to grow?
For the first couple of episodes you can see they are a bit nervous but they still managed to chug out good bakes. As the bakers stayed throughout the episodes their confidence grew so much, and they got stronger. They are then answering the questions with a bit of swag. You can see them finding their identity throughout the show, which is really cool.
First time as a judge, working with Prue – you cross a few decades and how has that been?
The relationship between me and Prue is pretty cool. I have experience in my own way and how I could relate to the kids but not forcefully, and Prue has so much experience. We go off on the same lane, and I think we really complemented each other. We were cake and custard, she explained stuff to me and I also did to her.
How did you console the Bakers and keep them on track?
Once it was announced who was going home, normally I would talk to the child who was about to leave, and say I know it feels like rubbish now but when you watch it back there will be amazing highlights. I also added that in your childhood memories this is going to be one of the best summers you will ever have had.
Did you feel that you could help the Junior Bakers if they were anxious as you could relate to your time in the tent.
I said to them there are always two challenges so just start afresh if they had done badly in the first challenge. Clear your head and start again. They did ask me about Bake Off and my experiences, which I did relay to them, and I hope that helped them a bit.
As one of the youngest judges ever do you think that has helped/and been an inspiration to them.
I hadn’t really thought that I was one of the youngest judges ever, that’s shocked me! But yes I think it does sort of help, and if you have a passion for baking I would like to think I am a good example. And age is just a number really, if you really stick at something and you have the passion then hopefully it will all work out.
Did you pass on advice and dry the tears if there were any?
There were a few tears but again I would say don’t worry about it, although it feels rubbish now it won’t tomorrow, and I would say the good bit is that you won’t have to practice tomorrow!
You don’t do a Hollywood Handshake but you do a High Five in the first episode – does that continue throughout the series?
I switch it up, because every bake is different, I might give a high five or a cheeky whoah, or a Bluetooth spud, it depends which baker it is you have to adapt to the individual baker.
And finally, If you were a cake at a child’s party what would you be?
I would probably be a Pinata cake in a 3D version of me, and as you cut into it the sweets would all pour out, and that would make the kids happy.