“There are two ways to make a Swiss Roll,” says co-presenter Sue Perkins in tonight’s first episode of the fourth series of The Great British Bake Off.
I hope it’s not spoiling anything to reveal that most contestants went for the method which didn’t involve pushing Roger Federer down a hill.
GBBO makes no apologies for its tweeness or its terrible puns, but detractors sometimes forget that these are not the only ingredients in the show’s success.
As ever, it’s the creativity and sheer skill of the contestants which impresses most and this year’s batch may be the most amusing and instantly likable yet.
They range in age from youngest-ever-contestant Martha,17, to 69-year-old Diana, a W.I member and baking veteran of 60 years.
Great British Bake Off 2014: Meet the contestants
Great British Bake Off 2014: Meet the contestants
1/12 Martha, 17
Martha is The Great British Bake Off’s youngest ever baker and, at just 17 years old, she combines baking with her AS Level exams and coursework, taking revision breaks to make a tower of profiteroles or a batch of macaroons.
Martha is studying Food Technology, Maths. and Chemistry and wants to be a food scientist when she is older, saying: “I may be in school, but my head is always in the kitchen.”
She lives with her mum, dad and younger sister and their white labradoodle Alfie - who steals Martha’s bakes whenever possible.
2/12 Enwezor, 39
Born and bred in North London near Harrow, Enwezor is half Nigerian and half Japanese and now lives with his wife and four children in Portsmouth where he works at the University as a business consultant.
When Enwezor sets his mind to something he will commit himself entirely - he once decided to do The Great South Run barefoot and so spent eight months walking around Portsmouth barefoot to get his feet ready for the race.
Enwezor grew up in a family that liked to cook. He has taught himself to bake in the last three years and it rapidly became one of his greatest passions, even doing night shift with a professional baker making over 900 loaves of bread, just for the work experience.
3/12 Kate, 41
Originally from Cambridgeshire, Kate now lives in Brighton with her five-year-old daughter.
Originally hoping to become an actress, Kate changed direction and started her own upholstery company which she runs from home, breathing new life into furniture with various textures and colours.
Community-minded, every year Kate organises a street party and she likes to bake for her family, last year she made 15 Christmas cakes… Kate is a creative baker, treating every bake as an experiment.
She very rarely uses recipes or weighs ingredients.
4/12 Ian, 31
Growing up just outside of Belfast Iain’s parents were passionate about organic foods and this outlook has directly affected his style of baking.
His passion for travelling has taken him to all corners of the globe, and he brings these flavours and influence to the bakes he likes to make.
Now living in London, Iain is a construction engineer, which he says is like architecture but more fun. He now manages construction sites in London and brings his array of bakes in for his colleagues.
With his polite Irish charm, love of international travel, and organic and vegetarian principals, Iain brings his upbringing and travels into his baking.
5/12 Claire, 31
Claire lives in Cheshire, where she works as a Speech and Language Therapist.
Claire has been baking since she was 11 years old as both her mum and grandmother were wedding cake decorators and her father was a chef, and they all taught her crucial techniques which should come in handy now.
Claire used to be a chaotic baker but since marrying her husband, Carl, a chemist, his precision work has rubbed off on her in the kitchen.
Claire is known for her unorthodox approach to slimming clubs – bringing along cakes for her fellow slimmers
6/12 Richard, 38
Born in north London, Richard is a family man through and through. He is the fourth generation in his family’s building business and he and his wife were born, raised and live on the same street and BOTH sets of parents still live close by.
Richard is as comfortable baking in the kitchen as he is building one, and likes to bake with his wife and two little girls. Richard loves bread and pastry and likes to rummage through his vegetable patch to find something to bake with.
Whilst he is a perfectionist he doesn’t necessarily stick to tradition; his wife put him in charge of making their own wedding cake and he made a Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon cake…
7/12 Diana, 69
Diana is The Great British Bake Off’s oldest baker so far. She is a traditional baker armed with a quick wit and sense of seeing the brighter side of life.
The daughter of a dairy farmer, she grew up on the farm in Shropshire on the Welsh borders where she joined the W.I. at the age of just 12 and became a W.I. judge at just 20 years old.
Diana met her husband, Malcolm, at a Young Farmers social event when she was just 16 and they have been together ever since.
Making her daughter’s wedding cake was her proudest baking moment.
8/12 Chetna, 33
Chetna was born in India and moved to Mumbai for University where she became a fashion designer and started her own clothes label.
She met her husband whilst they were at college, where he was training to become a doctor. They moved to the UK in 2003.
Chetna used baking as a way of embracing life in the UK and has thrown herself into learning new skills, combining her mum’s traditional recipes and flavours with British bakes when she can.
She bakes for family and for friends, running a sociable curry club once a week.
9/12 Norman, 66
Norman is a true Scot and lives on the northeast coast of Scotland. Now retired, Norman joined the Merchant Navy at the age of 19 in which he worked as a radio operator and travelled the world.
Norman’s father and brother were bakers, but he didn’t want that lifestyle for himself. However, he would like to bring back traditional Scottish recipes and has contacted some of his father’s old apprentices to revive some of the more traditional Scottish bakes that he fears are being lost.
Despite being fiercely Scottish he takes his Caravan to Perpignan in France and some of his baking is inspired by French patisserie. Norman cultivates his own yeast starters to make his bread and uses it to brew his own beer and wine.
10/12 Jordan, 32
Born in Chesterfield, Jordan lives in Nottingham where he works as an I.T. manager.
He is the self-confessed ‘nerdy baker’ of the tent. Jordan is a baking revolutionary; passionate about crossbreeding bakes like his “pretzel-croissant”, he has lost days of his life perfecting his own version of the “cronut.”
He has been baking seriously for the last three years but has dabbled in it for longer than that. He sees baking as similar to coding; one wrong instruction and the whole thing goes awry.
He calls his pet sourdough starter ‘Yorick the Yeast’, who requires daily feeding to keep him happy and healthy.
11/12 Nancy, 60
Full of energy and ideas, Nancy is known for her sense of humour. Originally from Hull, Nancy moved to Lincolnshire 24 years ago to work as a practice manager for a GP surgery, where she met her husband, Tim, who was a GP at the practice.
Now retired, she keeps active cycling, growing vegetables, rearing guinea fowl and ‘growing her own turkeys for Christmas’ in her back garden.
Her children call it ‘The Good Life’. Nancy also finds time to train dogs for obedience but one dog, Meg, embarrassed her at Crufts by falling asleep in the judging arena.
She and her husband renovated a house in the south of France and her time spent there has influenced her baking.
12/12 Luis, 42
Luis was born and brought up in Stockport by his Spanish parents.
Luis met his wife, Louise, at college when they were just 17. He trained as a Graphic Designer and likes to play the Ukulele, make model aeroplanes and keep bees.
An extremely inventive baker, Luis creates thoroughly researched and unique bakes such as his Tequila Slammer Cheesecake or his cherry brandy pipette gateaux.
He uses honey from his bees and fresh ingredients from his allotment in his baking.
Early contenders for star bake include cool cucumber Nancy from Hull whose cut-throat baking ambition manifests in a mini-guillotine for cakes and Richard the builder, who transfers his talent for construction to cake-baking.
Neither age nor experience is any indication of aptitude however, as 30 brand new baking challenges soon begin to sort the dedicated from the dilettantes.
Who’d have thought watching a sponge rolled on baking parchment could be an exercise in cinematic suspense?Reuse content