I went into the tent as the smallest baker at 4ft 11’’ but I walked out feeling a giant – almost as tall as my fellow baker 6 footer Mat Riley. I can be quite self-deprecating, but I feel I have tested my abilities and come out a much stronger confident person the other side.
I really hope that I have not become known more for my facial expressions or my eyebrows than my baking! I had no idea that this would become a talking point on social media. It’s all a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously, and I think it reflected what was going on in the tent. After all it’s just my face isn’t it?
Bizarrely I found the Final was one of the least scariest and I really enjoyed the experience the most out of all the filming days. I felt at that stage that I could do really well or really badly, I had nothing to lose, so I went into the tent and gave it everything I could. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever get to the Final, so part of me felt that I had won something just by getting there.
On the day itself it was really still and quiet inside the tent. There was a real sense of calm and concentration, it wasn’t just the bakers last day it was everyone’s last day. We all had a slight sense of sadness that it was all coming to a close.
I practiced so much at home before the Final, right through the night and even in the morning before I was going to catch my train I squeezed in another practice. I was absolutely exhausted before the last two days of filming, because I had done so much practice at home, but I felt I had given myself the best chance to fight for my place. I was pretty tired but high on the adrenaline of what I had achieved so far.
The Showstopper was a celebration cake, and as I never had my own wedding cake I wanted a proper iced wedding cake. I bought a sari that was red, white and blue, in the colours of the union jack and I decorated my stand with that. My husband Abdal’s favourite cake is Lemon Drizzle so I decided to make that. At the very end of the filming I took the cake out to my family’s table and we all had a slice. So my husband and I did get our wedding cake after all.
My husband can’t cook, we have tried and it doesn’t work, however he has become a really good photographer since Bake Off. He takes pictures of my bakes and when we are out and about and if people ask for a picture he will gladly jump in and do it.
Winning Star Baker three times was quite emotional, but when I won the Technical in the Final I just burst into tears, I felt it was all or nothing at that stage. I tried to pass it off as hayfever but that didn’t work, no one bought that. But that was not going to be the end of my tears. As they announced the winner, all I remember is not wanting to look at anyone, so I looked down at my shoes, my heart was racing in my chest and I could hear it thudding in my head. I remember seeing that my shoes were covered in flour, and when I heard my name, I covered my face with my hands as I didn’t want anyone to watch me cry.
Mary & Paul hugged me and Mary told me I deserved to win, and that made me cry again. When you get praise from Mary & Paul it’s a wonderful feeling as you hang onto their every word. They are very forgiving, lovely and honest with their comments, so when you get a positive comment you know that they mean it.
When I got home after the filming, my younger sister Yasmin had decorated the whole house with balloons, banners and a massive cake, and we all had a great family party. My dad tried to swipe the trophy but he wasn’t getting it. After that I wrapped it in many layers of brown paper, put it in a suitcase and hid it under the bed incase anybody saw it. Now it can come out and take pride of place in our living room.
My most favourite bake was the Showstopper that got me into the Final – that was my Chocolate Peacock in Week 9. It was the most intricate and artistic of all my bakes, and at that stage only perfection was going to get me through. Many of my bakes are related to a member of my family: my grandmother’s cod and Clementine vol au vents in Week 6; my brother suggested the Chocolate Peacock from our childhood; my husband for the Wedding Cake, and my children for the Pop Cake in Week 4. Cakes, desserts and pastries are now a must in our family.
Family life will carry on as normal, being a mum to three small children under 10 is pretty time consuming but I wanted to have my own adventure, which with a very supportive husband and a belief in my own ability, I can now carry on having my adventure. I am really looking forward to see what will happen.