The Great Comic Relief Bake Off: meet Ellie Simmonds

"Bake Off was one of the best things I've done since the Olympics"

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The Great Comic Relief Bake Off: meet Ellie Simmonds
Written By
Claire Webb

What’s your earliest cake memory?

My dad is the cook in the family but he doesn’t do desserts, so it was my grandma who taught me to bake. When I was little, I used to go round to her house every Sunday and make fairy cakes. The best bit was dipping the cakes into the icing and sticking on (and secretly eating) the toppings – my favourite was those little diamond jellies. I still have a very sweet tooth but these days my weakness is cream cheese icing.

What’s your favourite cake?

Do you know those chocolate cakes shaped like caterpillars you get in supermarkets? That’s what I always wanted for my birthday – much more exciting than a homemade cake – and I would still choose it now. I used to bagsy the head and feet because they were the most chocolatey parts. But if I could only eat one cake from now on? That’s a hard one. I like every cake – apart from fruitcake, because I don’t like raisins. It would probably be a chocolate cake. Or a vanilla sponge. Or a lemon drizzle...

How good a baker are you?

Several months before the Games I stopped baking because it was getting quite fattening, but the excess comes off quite naturally before a competition because you’re training so hard and eating a balanced diet. The rest of the time I’m the team baker. There are nine people in our squad and I always bake for birthdays or when we have a team bonding session. My signature dish is carrot and walnut muffins, although I’m probably most proud of my caramel shortcakes – just remembering them makes my mouth water. I’ve had cakes turn out mushy but I haven’t had any big disasters. With my swimming, I’m very competitive and like things just right, and I apply that to my baking.

Did you enjoy baking for Comic Relief?

I’m such a big fan of Bake Off – I’ve watched every series – so when I was asked to do this I jumped at the chance: “Oh my gosh, yes! Any day! I’d love to!” I’ve got to do some amazing things since the Games but this was one of the best.My whole family got involved, helping me think up ideas for the showstopper and we went with my dad’s in the end. On the day I was a tiny bit nervous (there was a moment of proper panic when I found out what the technical bake was going to be) but I was more excited just to be there. It’s definitely made me a braver baker; instead of always doing the same things, I want to try different recipes. My teammates say they’re happy to be guinea pigs!           

The Great Comic Relief Bake Off starts tonight at 8:30pm on BBC2

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