Pastry making is tricky business, and for many bakers in the tent, Pastry Week is a make-or-break moment. For Julia, it was one soggy bottom too many, and sadly it was time to bid her a fond farewell. Russian-born Julia taught herself to bake as a teenager, saving up money from her after school job to buy ingredients. She’s been brushing up her skills to apply for The Great British Bake Off for the last three years, and cooked her way through the competition to make it more than halfway through series eight.
We caught up with her for one last farewell.
Hi Julia! How did you feel when Sandi said your name?
“Sandi was very upset when she announced I was leaving and she gave me a big hug. We both shared a few tears, and then Noel rallied me round. I didn’t want to go of course, but everyone has to leave sometime and I knew this was my week to go.”
What was it like watching the episodes back?
“It was a huge honour to be in the tent. When you watch the episodes on TV, there are so many things that you don’t remember saying in the tent because you were just concentrating on baking! After a while you forget the cameras are there. I’ve been Skyping my Russian family at home to tell them what’s happening each week, but they don’t speak English and they can’t watch it yet there. My husband Matt’s family have of course been able to watch it. They have been so incredibly supportive, and that means so much to me.”
Who did you want to impress most – Prue or Paul?
“I wanted to impress both Paul and Prue – their opinions were very important to me, and I respected them both equally. I would take both of their comments into account.”
Let’s talk about your ‘pies’ and ‘doughs’, starting with the positives…
“My best bit was bread week, because I got Star Baker, and that was so cool. There were great moments when Paul and Prue said you should be proud of yourself, and I will remember those forever!”
… and what about any dough moments?
“Well, I had two. In the first technical challenge my bake looked so bad but the judges said it tasted good. Although I didn’t want to leave in this week, I knew I had tried my best.”
How would you describe the whole journey?
“I was so nervous on the first day. Although I was looking forward to it, I was also worried about how I would fit in. Being the only Russian baker, I felt the others would have so much more knowledge than me. But as bakers we instantly bonded. I really couldn’t believe that it was happening and it was for real. To be part of something so special I felt really privileged. For me it was really a dream come true.”
Will you keep on baking?
“Of course I will carry on baking. It’s my passion, something I enjoy doing and absolutely love. I am only 21 so there is only one place to go now, and that is up.”
Goodbye Julia – we’ll be watching you on your way up!