Cake king John Whaite crowned winner of the Great British Bake Off


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The Independent Culture

John Whaite, the law student who completed his degree while perfecting his pastry, said the double challenge helped him to emerge triumphant on the hit BBC series, The Great British Bake Off.

The 23-year-old, who was recently awarded a first-class law degree from Manchester University, beat Brendan Lynch, 63, and John Morton, 21, after completing the chiffon sponge challenge in the final of the BBC2 show.

The Wigan-born Whaite, who dropped out of Oxford University to study closer to home, said the pressure of competing in the amateur baking series had spurred him on.

“If I hadn’t been in the middle of the degree I’m not sure I would have won,” said Whaite. “It meant I had to be organised and know what I needed for the exam and what I needed for baking and it helped me concentrate. I don't think I’d have got such a good grade without Bake Off.

“It was tough though. I finished one exam on a Friday and went to Bristol to film the semi-final before getting home late on Sunday in time for another exam on Monday.”

The show, presented by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins and featuring judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, has been one of the surprise hits of the year.

Last week it attracted 5.6 million viewers, beating Holby City on BBC1, and has sparked a baking revival and has its own line of official merchandise.

Whaite, whose creations have included an enormous gingerbread Colosseum, credited his partner, Paul, with some of his success.

He said: “He’s a graphic designer, he does birthday cards and I do the cakes. With the Colosseum he drew up a template on the computer so that was a team effort.”

He praised the presenting duo, Mel and Sue, saying: “I don’t think I could have done so well without them. When something goes wrong they come up and give you a cuddle or crack a joke to relieve the tension, it's like having a little friend on your shoulder.”

Whaite, who plans to release a recipe book and swap law school for pastry classes, said he has been surprised by the show's success and how often he has been stopped in the street by fans.

He said: “The strangest one was in the swimming pool, I was doing a length and had just come up to rearrange my goggles and my trunks and this man stopped and said ‘Are you John Whaite from Bake Off?’ I was so surprised I nearly drowned.”

The whisking, kneading Bake Off format has now become an international hit, with Australia, Poland and France about to get their own versions.

Janice Hadlow, BBC2 controller, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled by the phenomenal success of Great British Bake Off - all the ingredients of record ratings, a worthy winner, the expertise of Mary and Paul, wonderful presenters Mel and Sue and a brilliant series put together by Love productions plus of course all those irresistible cakes have come together to make a very special programme for BBC2.”