Sarah Brown on Comic Relief Bake Off: The best cake we ever did for Gordon was a football pitch

The campaigner and wife of the former prime minister on Downing Street's sweet treats and her baking nerves...

Did your husband Gordon enjoy the sweet treats round Downing Street?


Gordon has quite a sweet tooth, and if you put chocolate in it then it will go down well with him! I think the best cake we ever did for him was a football pitch birthday cake. We made a very nice chocolate cake, covered it all with green icing and put a Subbuteo football match on top. It was floodlit by candles.

How would you rate your own baking?

In the family it’s not me who’s the baker, it’s my little son Fraser, who’s eight. I’m more of the kitchen assistant. He is a massive fan of The Great British Bake Off, and Junior Bake Off, so I get drawn into it that way. Both my sons came with me when I went to the tent, and were allowed to peek on set.

Did he do any baking while you lived at Number Ten?

My boys were very little then, but we used to bake cupcakes and cookies for Comic Relief. They would take them round the whole building doing fundraising, and all the staff had to bring in their pounds to buy one of Fraser’s cupcakes.

Were you nervous going into the Bake Off tent?

I was nervous on every level. I only agreed to do it because it was Comic Relief. I have campaigned for women’s and children’s health for a long time, and they have always been a really supportive partner. I had never made shortbread before, so I tried to make a shortbread that I thought would work in a bake sale. When you live in Scotland, and you can go to a lovely village fair, the thing you do is buy other people’s shortbread.

Did you enjoy your time?

It’s an extraordinary experience because it’s so iconic. It’s been such an amazing success and Paul and Mary are just the best at what they do. The thing that was really interesting to me was that if you’re involved in political or charity life, you do a quick clip for television and then you’re off again. You never see how a programme is made. Being on the inside of it was fascinating.

Gordon won’t be standing for Parliament in May. Will that mean he’ll have more time to go into the kitchen?

I don’t think he will be any less busy. He has a lot of commitments in Scotland and a number of roles internationally. I suspect he will stay as busy as ever. Gordon and I have worked together closely for quite a long time, but always in different spaces that can complement the work that we do.

Gordon has a role with the United Nations in global education, and can still pick up the phone to presidents and prime ministers and talk to them about their education plans. I work very much on the charity campaigning and grass roots side. After May, we will both carry on that way, I’m sure. We will always have some involvement with global development and education in some shape or form. 


The Great Comic Relief Bake Off continues tonight on BBC1 at 8pm