Comic Relief Bake Off: Jennifer Saunders on competitiveness and her dislike of cake

"I like a cook, but a bake? Dear God. It’s so much of a fuss"

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Never has a charity bake sale boasted so much celebrity pulling power. A glittering line-up has been whisked into the tent for this year’s Great Comic Relief Bake Off, from actor Michael Sheen to Ab Fab duo Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. Comics Victoria Wood and David Mitchell join Australian treasure Dame Edna Everage and campaigner Sarah Brown, wife of the former prime minister. 

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So here’s Jennifer Saunders to tell us about her Bake Off experience…

How would you rate your baking skills?

I never bake. I don’t think I’ve ever baked a cake. I don’t particularly like cake. If I was going to choose a thing not to eat, cake would probably be it.

So why did you agree to go on?

From series one, I’ve been a complete Bake Off addict. I absolutely love it. I couldn’t care less about the cake, I just wanted to feel what it was like, to be there with Mary and Paul. The great thing about Comic Relief is that you can do all sorts of dream jobs. I’d never be able to go on the real Bake Off, but I can pretend to go on.

What did you think of Paul?

He is quite scary when he comes round, but he’s also very handy. I had a moment when something curdled. My cake was so huge it wouldn’t all fit in the bowl, so he was very handy in sorting me out. I think [fellow baker] Dame Edna Everage put him off his stride a bit, though. She was hilarious. One of the things she made actually had to be cut out of the tin with metal cutters. Her cake had actually welded itself to the tin.

What did you make?

I cooked a huge chocolate layered cake drizzled with vodka. I don’t want to give away too much but it’s pretty hideous. I thought I’d try to sway Mary with a lot of vodka. It had to have something to do with our careers, so I did an Edina cake for Ab Fab. Joanna [Lumley] tried to do a cake of herself looking at the Northern Lights. Turns out it’s quite hard to make the Northern Lights in cake form…

Your husband Adrian Edmondson won Celebrity MasterChef. Is there any culinary competitiveness between the two of you?

Ade is a brilliant cook, and what’s even better is that he likes doing it. He was the one who made me practise: I didn’t actually practise the bake, but I did practise my icing skills. I’d made my own icing – well, mixed powder with a bit of water – and tried out my design. Ade and I split the cooking at home. I like a cook, but a bake? Dear God. It’s so much of a fuss, and I can’t be bothered to wipe up all the flour. You make such a mess with baking, and you use so much equipment. I can’t be bothered doing the washing up for just a cake.

What was it like having Joanna Lumley with you?

It was brilliant having her in the tent. We hadn’t worked together for ages, but she was so funny. The producers, though, were constantly asking us how we felt. “How did you think that went?” “What did you think about Joanna’s cake?” It was like psychoanalysis with cakes.

Were you competitive?

We were there to be funny, but I really wanted to make the best cake. Be funny – but win!

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The Great Comic Relief Bake Off starts on Wednesday 11th February at 8pm on BBC1