She has been Star Baker twice in The Great British Bake Off but Hermine failed to rise to the challenge of Patisserie Week, which she says is her “forté”, and she was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the Channel 4 competition.
The Benin-born 39-year-old has been a star in this series, earning plaudits from judge Paul Hollywood that her Japanese Poppy Cake was worthy of a Parisienne bakery, while host Noel Fielding joked she’d given judge Prue Leith a “pruegasm” with one of her bakes.
Hermine said: “It should have been my finest hour on Patisserie Week as that is my forté, but it was not to be. It was heartbreaking to leave at the semi-final.”
In the semi-final Hermine created a crème-filled Apricot Baba au Rhum for her first challenge: “I wasn’t happy with my first attempt so I tried again. Prue thought they were elegant and modern and Paul liked the flavours, although he said they were underproved… In the Technical, Paul said my Horns of Plenty were overbaked but had good flavours.”
Then came the Showstopper, during which she “stepped into the unknown” with a Cube Cake. “I changed my recipe at the very last minute. So I did gamble on my favourite flavours of cherry and chocolate; and coffee and praline, but there were too many elements to juggle and I couldn’t keep up.
“Even with my large doses of Kirsch that I hoped would appeal to Paul and Prue, I knew it was over for me.”
Like others before her, Hermine said the point of being on Bake Off was not necessarily to win or get Star Baker – it was to win the approval of Prue and Paul.
“I was more thrilled about getting positive comments from the judges,” she said. “These are the things that made my experience in the tent magical. I bake from the heart and I want people to enjoy my food rather than taking the accolades.”
Although she felt like she’d neglected him somewhat, the 39-year-old baker said living in The Great British Bake Off bubble had been the “best summer” of her son Stephen’s life.
“I could focus on baking and practising, probably more than I could do at home,” she said. “I did worry that I wasn’t giving him my full attention but he had a great time, and Paul gave him a ride in his car. Stephen left him a parking ticket on his car window for bad parking, and said the penalty was a ride in his car. Paul came to look for him and paid the penalty! It was such a nice thing to do.”
Stephen also got to walk Prue’s dogs: “He loves dogs so that was an extra treat for him. Prue left him a lovely thank-you note when we left the tent.”
Hermine, who works as an accountant, explained why baking was so important to her: “My philosophy on baking and life is that you can be as creative as you want in baking and don’t worry about what you can’t control in life.
“I have a serious day job as an accountant, but you can also have a fun side, you can be both. You have to trust the universe and it will take care of you, what will be will be and just enjoy your life and love it.”
But will she be abandoning accountancy to become a full-time baker?
“I bake from the heart. The sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless. I believe there are infinite possibilities for us if we are open to receiving. So, anything could be next for me who knows, let’s wait and see.”
Hermine will join Jo Brand and Tom Allen on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday 20th November Channel 4 at 8pm.
The Great British Bake Off Final, featuring finalists Dave, Laura and Peter, will screen on Channel 4 on Tuesday 24th November.