The Great British Bake Off 2017 final: Sophie reveals how life in the army prepared her for baking success

Plus, the finalist says she was the first actually to get a Paul Hollywood handshake this year, not Steven

illusion-cake

Why did you apply to be on The Great British Bake Off?

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My boyfriend, David, started my application. He’s a chef and we love cooking together – he makes the savoury stuff and I make the desserts.

When did you start baking?

Only a few years ago. I started rowing at Sandhurst and then went into it full-time. But there isn’t much money in it, so I started baking my friends cakes for their birthdays.

How often do you bake?

I don’t have a ravenous family, so not often.

What is your kitchen like?

I’ve recently moved and the new kitchen is small but modern. Luckily we have a spare room so I have an enormous shelving unit full of baking tins, ingredients and equipment.

How much did you practise once you found out you were going to be on the show?

I was working as a ski instructor in the Alps when I found out, so not much!

(RT shoot week 44 2017, TL)
This Hot dog illusion cake in the Radio Times photoshoot is completely edible and was made by pastry chef and cake decorator Marianne Stewart, using a sponge cake base covered in buttercream and hand-painted fondant icing

Did your military career prepare you for the pressure of the tent?

It helped a lot. The skills required to work through a high-pressure situation are exactly the same. The only difference is no one will die if you muck up your cake… unless you muck it up really badly!

Did you get a Paul handshake?

I got the first Hollywood handshake on the show – on TV it was edited so it looked like Steven got the first one but it was actually me. It was a relief because I wasn’t the most experienced baker.

How much were you able to practise for each showstopper?

I did each showstopper one-and-a-half times. Once in part to ensure the idea worked and then once through to see if it could be done in time. Luckily I didn’t have a full-time job, I was just doing a bit of personal training during the show.

Did you have to do more boot camps to burn off all the cake?

I put on a lot of weight and I’m only just getting back into training to get back down to my race weight for next year’s season of track bike racing. When I injured my back rowing, I switched to cycling – l actually missed the national championship this year because of Bake Off, but the year before I was the national champion for individual pursuit for my age range. I want to win my title back next year!

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The Great British Bake Off 2017 final airs this Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 4