We sat down for a quick bite with each of our three Finalists to chat about their time in The Tent. Here’s what Alice had to say…
What’s the biggest thing that you will miss when Bake Off is over for 2019?
It will be strange when it is all over, but we are a close bunch and see each other all the time, so I don’t think it will ever really be over completely. We’re still going to hang out, and probably keep baking – just with nobody judging us!
Overall, so far what would you say you have done best in throughout the series: Signature, Technical or Showstopper?
There were a few times where things were getting a bit hairy for me after the Signature and Technical, so the Showstopper saved me on a number of occasions! I think as a whole, my showstoppers were what kept me in so long. It certainly wasn’t the Technicals!
Did you discover any new flavours while in the tent?
I tried to experiment with a lot of different flavour combinations, blending things together, but I also stuck to the flavours that I loved. I wasn’t going to make something I didn’t enjoy eating myself!
Best comment from Prue or Paul?
Hands down, when Paul said my tiramisu bombe could have been served in a five star restaurant, that was when I felt like I’d really achieved something!
What’s been your favourite challenge/theme this series and least favourite and why?
I loved the challenges where you had to get really creative in terms of design. I loved coming up with ideas and it was amazing when it all came together (after a lot of trial and error!) My least favourite were the Technicals… what was with all the deep fat frying?
Did the Technical Challenge fill you with dread each week?
I hated the feeling of the unknown, and the fear of ‘what if I can’t do this and produce nothing’. I tried to just stay calm and apply what I knew… it worked some of the time… kind of!
How emotional is it when you’re waiting to hear who Star Baker is and who is leaving the tent? Was there a specific week where you thought you might be leaving?
Hearing who is Star Baker is amazing, and great for whoever wins, but it is who is going home that we all got emotional about. Knowing someone’s journey is up, and that shared experience is over is really hard. We all got so close, and it was lovely feeling like you were baking with your friends, so it got harder and harder to lose people.
You were Star Baker twice, how did it feel? Did it make you relax a bit or want to up your game further? Or bittersweet because you were also saying goodbye to a fellow baker?
My aim for each week was just to survive and try to enjoy it. Being proud of what I had done was what mattered, not winning. Both times I was Star Baker, it was a shock, and a lovely one, but I just took every week one by one, and tried not to look too far ahead.
Approaching the Final, how were the nerves? Did it feel like a competition or three friends going into the tent one last time?
It was an incredible feeling getting to the Final. I felt so privileged to have been a part of Bake Off, and to be in the Final with Steph and David was an honour. But when you boil it all down, it was three friends going in, supporting each other, and wanting us all to do our best, whatever the outcome.
How have you found watching yourself on TV?
It’s a weird experience seeing yourself on TV. I think I’m quite self-critical. I just wish someone had told me how many weird facial expressions I make!
What’s the best thing about taking part in Bake Off?
Without hesitation, the other bakers have been the best thing I’ll take away from Bake Off. When you go through something intense together, you bond very quickly. They’re really important to me, and at the end of the day, I’ve met some new friends for life that I’m so grateful for.
Did you receive any advice/words of wisdom ahead of the Final?
I tried not to think of the Final as being any different to the other weeks. I just wanted to go in and do my best. It wasn’t about winning, I felt proud to be there, so whatever happened if I was happy with what I did, I would be ok.
What was your lowest moment and your highest moment in the Tent?
A really lovely moment was after the Technical Challenge in Dessert Week. I had won, but everyone had done well, so we were all in high spirits. Someone put the music on, and we just had a little dance around the Tent eating delicious verrines! My lowest moment was probably during a Technical where I had no idea what I was doing and wondering how I ended up on the show!
Who did you want to impress – Paul or Prue or both equally?
I think I wanted to impress Paul and Prue equally. They are both very talented and accomplished, so having a compliment off either of them was amazing.
How helpful/supportive were Sandi and Noel?
Sandi and Noel were supportive and hilarious in equal measure. They really did make us laugh and help with the nerves. Apart from when Noel would come over to chat when I was having a nightmare with 10 minutes to go… not quite so helpful!
Was there a challenge that you normally do well at home but didn’t work out so well in the tent… and vice versa?
I am still so embarrassed at my Prohibition Cake. It was a mess, and I had made it look so beautiful at home, so that was frustrating. Things like that were always going to happen under the pressure and time limits!
Did you ever think that you would be a Finalist, and when did you think you might have a chance of making it to the Final?
I never even let myself think about getting to the Final. It seemed like an impossible task when I stood in the tent in Week One! I had a rollercoaster ride in there, with so many ups and downs. Getting to the Final feels like something of a miracle, although I worked incredibly hard for it.
Any funny moments?
There were so many funny moments. I think one that stands out to me for really breaking the tension was in Week One, right before we started the first challenge. Jamie had left his butter to soften in the proving drawer, but he’d left it for too long and he opened the drawer to find a puddle leaking everywhere. At a time when we were all so petrified, it made us laugh, as Jamie handled it in true Jamie style.
How do you now cope with being recognised?
I don’t mind being recognised as everyone is so happy to tell you how much they love the show, and it’s amazing to see what a positive impact it has had on people.
How has it been at work while the series has been airing?
The students have been so lovely and supportive. I do get asked if I won about 20 times a day!
Throughout filming in the summer what was your best invented ‘white lie’ to keep it a secret from friends and workmates?
I was always sneaking out of school on a Friday afternoon with a suitcase and a bag full of cake tins and equipment…not exactly inconspicuous. I was just always ‘going away for the weekend’ whilst being very vague.
Best baking gadget in your kitchen?
I can’t live without my standing mixer. Or my citrus zester.
As Finalists how close did you all get? Was there still a great support right up to the end?
I’m so grateful for Steph and David who were a constant support for me, and I think we all just wanted to enjoy it together. It was a competition, yes, but at the end of the day, we wanted everyone to do their best.
Will this be a life change for you, or will life carry on as normal?
Who knows, but whatever happens and whatever opportunities present themselves, I will keep on baking.
Would you do it all again?
As long as all of this year’s bakers were there, yes, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
What are you hoping for now… is there an ultimate baking dream?
If you’d have asked me this time last year, I would have said being on Bake Off was my ultimate dream, so now, who knows! I’m just going to see what happens.
Would you recommend amateur bakers to apply for the next series of Bake Off? And did you have any hesitation?
If you have the passion for baking, go for it! If in doubt, give it a go, what have you got to lose? I didn’t feel very confident or think that I was good enough but I gave it a go and look what happened. I think the trick is to make sure you know the basics, and then just do what you love. That way you’ll enjoy it whatever happens.
I think my hesitation was that I didn’t think I’d be good enough to get in the tent, and even if I did get on, that I’d embarrass myself. However, I think when you just put your mind to it, you’d be amazed at what you can do.
Applications for Series 11 of The Great British Bake Off are now open. So if you or someone you know is a Star Baker in the making, apply now: www.applyforbakeoff.co.uk