There were crumbs, crusts, and an abundance of prodding – it can only have been Bread Week on The Great British Bake Off. While Julia rose to the occasion and scooped her first Star Baker crown, it was with a sinking heart that we had to say good-rye to Flo, a 71-year old home baker from Liverpool. We’ll miss her bakes, sure, but we’ll also miss her banter with Paul, her top-notch dance moves and general presence in the tent.
The yeast we could do was sit down for one last cup of tea and a catch-up with the Scouse sass-machine that is Flo.
Hey Flo! How did you end up on Bake Off in the first place?
“Since my husband Richard died after a very happy 48 years of marriage, my daughter, Nicola, was trying to get me to join all sorts of reading and craft clubs, and I just didn’t want to do it. So my family came up with the idea of me going on Bake Off and Nicola applied.”
Were you pleased when you made it on?
“The reality only hit me when I walked into the tent. I was totally overwhelmed, but I wasn’t a bit nervous about meeting Paul, or even Prue. I felt that Paul is the same age as my son, so I just tried to keep that in my head. I just kept telling myself to keep calm.”
You and Paul bonded immediately over your roots.
“Paul and I had a great rapport, I loved him. You can throw anything at me, but beware that as a Scouser I can come back with something worse, and Paul knew that. Prue said to me at one stage, ‘Is he picking on you again?’, and I said ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got two at home like him!’.”
How did you feel watching it all on telly?
“I am a very sociable person, so trying to keep it a secret before it went on TV was a nightmare. I like to have a good old chinwag with my mates, so I had to pretend I was going out to lunch when I was really filming. It was so hard to keep quiet, and then so good to share the news with everyone. The Liverpool Echo called me ‘Scouse Nan’ when I first appeared on the show, but I don’t feel old inside – I still wear my high heels and I feel I have a young attitude to life.”
Let’s talk about your ‘pies’ and ‘doughs’, starting with the positives…
“The best moment for me has to be when Paul cut into my watermelon cake. I wanted to see inside it as much as the judges did, to see if it had baked through properly, and thank goodness it had. I did practice it twice at home, so I must admit I wasn’t fazed by making it in the tent.”
… and what about any dough moments?
“I’m comfortable making cakes and gateaux – I could make them all day long – but throw me a challenge like a biscuit or bread sculpture and I start going to pieces. Making the sugar paste was a disaster, as was the bread sculpture. I could barely watch those on TV, and I will never attempt to make them again. The fortune cookies didn’t bring me any good luck, either.”
What do you think Richard would have made of your run on the show?
“Richard would have said ‘Don’t be doing it, love’. He probably wouldn’t have wanted me to go through the stress of it. But I know on seeing it, he would have been as proud as punch. At the end of the day, I’m a housewife that makes cakes, pastries and biscuits. That’s my comfort zone, and it’s my comfort for feeding my family.”
Goodbye, Flo – we’ll never baguette you.