THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF: THE FIRST BAKER LEAVES THE TENT
In the first episode of the new series of The Great British Bake Off Janusz was named Star Baker and Will, 45 from London, was the first baker to leave the series.
The nation’s most famous tent was pitched in the grounds of Welford Park once again. Presenters Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas returned to lead the latest batch of 12 bakers through thirty brand new challenges set by Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.
The series kicked off with Cake Week, the baker’s first opportunity to impress the judges. In the signature they were challenged to produce twelve perfect Mini cakes. Next, under the gingham cloth, were the ingredients for the first technical, a striking sponge cake which should be familiar. Finally, a showstopper that gave the bakers a chance to express their architectural skills, as they created a scaled down version of a home close to their hearts entirely from sponge.
At the end of the first episode Noel announced that Janusz was the Star Baker and Matt had the difficult job that no-one wants of telling Will that he would be the first Baker leaving the tent.
On the show Will said: ‘Somebody has got to go first and obviously I am disappointed but I am proud to have made it. Yeah I am alright, there is obviously a lovely bunch of people that I have met, and I have got an experience that I can definitely talk about and share. I am proud of that.’
Prue said: ‘Honestly, Will you should just feel proud of yourself’, and Paul added: ‘Well done Will!’
Here Will talks about his experience: ‘I learnt from my experience in the tent that baking can be hard work but rewarding! Well I wasn’t there long but I would say that my best moment was Noel’s reaction of my home cake! My worst moment had to be ….Italian Meringue Buttercream.
‘My favourite challenge was the house cake. It was fun and allowed me to show off some of my passion for architecture and my worst challenge was my ginger cakes. IMB, need I say more.
‘The funniest moments in the tent were everything Matt says. He is so funny! And I loved seeing how the production team work. They are a lovely, dedicated and creative bunch – such nice people.
‘I will take away from my experience on Bake Off to always try something new. I don’t know fully what’s next for me in the baking world, but I’m thinking of combining my love for cooking and baking and passions for the environment into a blog/YouTube channel. I have a lot of thoughts to share about cooking more sustainably, reducing waste and helping people as food increases in price - I’m a huge fan of the campaigning Jack Monroe does, she’s so impressive in tackling food poverty head on. There are loads of skills we can all learn to make cooking more fun, better for us, better for the world and continue to eat well as food and energy increase in price. Watch this space!
Will joins Jo Brand and Tom Allen on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday 16 September , Channel 4 at 8.00 pm.
Former Charity Director
One of three children, Will grew up just outside Bristol, before leaving for university in Liverpool. Now he lives in London with his wife, three children and a cat called Tiggy. When he’s not hanging out with his kids, Will loves DIY and carpentry, which indulges his background in architecture, and cooking up new and exciting dishes in the kitchen. His passion for baking began when he was 2, when his mum would give him her pastry trimmings to turn into little jam tarts. Intrigued by the technical side of baking, he is a particular fan of using yeast – and not just in bread! His favourite flavours are salted caramel and paprika (but not at the same time).
Q&A with Will
*How much did you practice at home before going into the tent and how did you juggle that with life and work?
It took a lot of time to develop the recipes and I spent quite a lot of time practicing. I was on a career break at the time so balancing all the baking with work commitments was ok, but I have a busy family life with three kids, two of whom are teenagers and a small kitchen and baking seem to completely take over for a bit. One day I’d spent the whole day developing a cake recipe and the kitchen was strewn with test cakes and it got to about 7 o’clock and I realised we had nothing for tea – so despite spending the entire day cooking we ended up going out for supper – it was crazy for a while!
*How big is your love of baking and how many hours would you bake a week?
I don’t really distinguish between my love of baking and my love of cooking – I get a lot of satisfaction from making food for people that they love – whether that is cake or curry. I probably spend about 10 hours a week in the kitchen, or on baking projects (which may last several days).
*What did you enjoy most about filming and what did you miss most about being away from home?
I loved experiencing the process that goes into making a TV programme, the people at the production company are all really caring and professional at what they do – it was fascinating to be part of. I missed my family, my wife and kids and my own kitchen!
*Did you pack a lucky item for your stay?
I took a special clutch pencil my wife had given me to write notes. Unfortunately I lost it in the tent!
*During the filming time when you were away from home, where did you say you were to friends?
Sort of skirted over it – said I was away for work (I used to travel a lot for my job so this isn’t unusual) – I think what people found stranger was that I was away from my phone for whole days during filming - so not replying to messages!
*Can you describe the bakers as a group this year, and are you all on a what’s app group?
They are an adorable group of people, really supportive and lovely. Utterly the best thing about having been on Bake Off is meeting people who are really different to me, but share my love of baking, it’s a passion that brings people together. We have a shared WhatsApp group (well actually two), we share lots of baking stories and pics, share recipes and tips and help each other out.
*How nervous were you when Paul and Prue started judging the first signature challenge and how did it feel when they judged the technical challenge?
Oh blimey, things can go wrong in the signature so I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. I found the technical judging quite scary too!
*Is Paul Hollywood scary in real life and how did you cope with the blue eyed stare?
Oh, there is a difference between the man and the myth. He was really nice, supportive and took special care to get to know people, but he also plays a role as a scary judge and plays it very well. He’s also a very good looking chap in real life!
*Having watched Bake Off in the past, was the first day in the tent what you expected?
No not really, it was much colder than I thought it would be, and harder work.
*If you could travel back in time what year/decade would you like to go back to and why
Oh, 1970s, I have a penchant for kitsch baking, and I think a lot from that period is unfairly derided.
*What was it like having the team clean up for you after all your bakes. Did you feel guilty if you made a mess?
Oh lovely, one of the biggest challenges with the practice baking was cleaning up – the supply of endless mixer bowls in the tent was amazing. Yes, I felt guilty when I made a mess.
*Who is your baking inspiration and what age did you start baking?
Three women in my life, my mum, my granny and my mother-in-law. I probably started baking when I was two, my mum used to give me off cuts of pastry to play with and make jam turnovers. My granny was a great baker, she’d have loved GBBO but sadly died before it was created. My mother-in-law is a retired home ec teacher, and she was a great support.
*The Bake Off family is a very exclusive club, how do you feel now being a new member?
Hugely honoured – it seems to be a very friendly place to be and there is so much knowledge and passion in the bakers – which everyone is so happy to share.
*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 really enjoy sharing my love of cooking with people, and also sharing my knowledge and skills – especially with my kids. My daughter is a fantastic baker and has a natural talent, I love nothing more than undertaking a shared project with her – we teach each other so much.
* What is the cake you get asked to make the most for friends and family?
Can I substitute cake for croissants – I often get asked to knock up a batch of croissants/pain au chocolate/cinnamon cruffins!
*If you were a cake topper what would you be and why?
Candied lemon slices. Looks sharp but actually sweet and lovely!
*On a Bake Off Island you are allowed to take one utensil – what would it be?
A sturdy spatula, you can mix, smooth and bash things with it. It’d also make a good rudder for the raft we’ve made to get off the island!
*In three words how would you describe yourself?
Friendly, caring, and knowledgeable!
*And how would your friends describe you?
A bit chaotic, and getting a word in edge ways can be a challenge but his heart is in the right place!
*Are there any spices or flavours that you really dislike? and why…
I like most things but I’m not a huge fan of chocolate on its own, it’s a bit, meh.
*When baking in the kitchen at home what music do you have on in the background, or is it just the hum of the fridge?
Radio 4, I’m a sucker for it. I particularly enjoy Woman’s Hour, I think Emma Barnett is a great journalist, presenter and interviewer.