The radio presenter tells RT how she was eager to join the Bake Off contest but found it much harder than it looks…
Did you jump at the chance to take part in this charity Bake Off?
I did, because I’ve adored Bake Off since the first series: it’s such a fantastic slice of British life.
You must have put in hours of preparation…
No, and that led to my downfall! I did absolutely nothing to prepare whatsoever. I went in and cooked the way that I always cook, which is on the hoof… and I paid the price for it.
Are you a natural baker?
No. I’ve probably cooked every day for the past 20 years, and I feel a bit ill at ease if I don’t. But baking is so scientific, exact and strategic and I’m not that kind of cook: I’m much more chuck it all in and go with the flow.
Were Mary and Paul tough on you?
It’s like being told off by your favourite teacher. I’ve never bothered to find out why you need to stretch gluten or what baking powder does, so it was fascinating being around them because every time they made a criticism, it was accompanied by a suggestion of how to make it better next time.
Did you cope under pressure?
Not terribly well. I live in a world of radio and I did find it strange. Suddenly you think: oh my god, they’re filming my hands and my nails are manky – and all the other stuff in my working life I don’t have to think about. This isn’t going to lead to any job offers to replace Cheryl Cole on L’Oréal adverts.
What did you bake?
I baked a red chilli and Monterey Jack savoury flan, a chocolate and caramel cake, and I made some biscuits. Some were rubbish but Mary was so sweet – I don’t think she knows how to say a mean thing – and said they’d be lovely for the family biscuit tin. Which basically means: they’re rubbish.
What do you think of the new-found appetite for baking, especially among young women?
Maybe the pendulum has swung back to its natural position. For a generation if you said you enjoyed baking, it may have been taken as a message that you weren’t a career-orientated woman. Now you can be both with equal pride; there’s no shame in loving a good cupcake.
But you’re not tempted to pull the radio plug?
I wouldn’t be good enough; my business wouldn’t make any money! That’s what Bake Off taught me: really, really, really don’t give up the day job.
Now it’s your turn: ready, get set, bake!
The celebrities have donned their pinnies and cooked up a storm to inspire you to hold your own bake sale for Sport Relief. For more details and top baking tips – plus how to pay in the money you raise! – go to www.sportrelief.com. But here are some useful pointers to get you started:
1 Advertise your bake sale in advance and choose a good day and time (elevenses/teatime).
2 Keep an ingredient list handy for people with allergies. Label those cakes that are nut free to appeal to those with nut allergies.
3 Make batches of small cakes; the more you have to sell, the better.
The Great Sport Relief Bake Off continues tonight, 8pm, BBC2