As Bake Off entered its semi-final, Flora talked to Radio Times about her biggest challenge yet…
Do you have a great kitchen at home?
At home we have a huge double-height kitchen with a large table and a very old light-blue 1950s Aga. When people find out about the Aga they think I’m very posh. My sister Hebe, who’s 18, suggested that I should remind them we have a Skoda and four brown hens, not a Range Rover and four brown ponies. At St Andrews I have a fantastic kitchen, so I can still bake and cook. There was a lot of baking during Freshers’ Week! It’s a great way to make yourself more popular very quickly.
How much practice did you do?
It was a bit of a juggling act as I was still working at Frames, but I bake almost every day anyway so it was a case of being organised and doing slightly more obscure things than normal. My mum and gran are fantastic cooks so I was brought up doing it. The thing that I was worried about was the technical challenges, and so I drafted a list of different things to practise – though of course nothing I picked came up. You can never second-guess the producers.
What was your worst moment on the show?
The retro bakes were very difficult. I still don’t know what an Arctic roll is. Timing was also difficult, but I always went above and beyond what I had to do. Maybe I should have just done what I was asked to do. The producer called it “Florification” after a while, the way I used to add things to the challenge. I don’t like having idle hands, is all.
Did you put on any weight?
Yes. It’s not the best thing for your waistline, is it? There was a lot of stress involved, and I felt I had to try everything. It was like, “Ooh dear, here’s something else I have to try, how sad!”
What made you apply?
Hebe was desperate for me to apply. I pretended not to take any notice, but on the very last day I applied. I told nobody and did a couple of sneaky phone interviews with the team. I only told my family when I went to Manchester for the interviews. Our little sister Willow – our mother is a florist, hence the names – who is 11, didn’t know I was on the show until the day they came to film the back story. We thought it would be too much of a secret for her to keep. I was worried she would realise I was spending every minute in the kitchen, but apparently she didn’t think there was anything unusual about that!
How are you coping with fame?
Going to the supermarket is taking a lot longer than it did! People always spot me in the baking aisle and want a photo and a chat, or some tips. And yes, it’s a very surreal experience. I’ve had a few marriage proposals – some of which my mother thinks I should take up…
Bake Off continues next Wednesday at 8pm on BBC1