Ruby Tandoh is not enamoured with the idea of inviting Paul Hollywood into her student kitchen to test her bakes.
“Definitely not! I can’t think of anything worse,” she laughs when I ask her if she could have done with the silver-haired baker’s critical eye while testing recipes for her new book Crumb.
And that’s not because the Bake Off has left anything but a sweet taste in Tandoh’s mouth. Even the social media furore that surrounded last year’s all-female final didn’t sour her experience.
“Obviously at the time it was strange and unexpected but actually I still only look back on it with fondness and it didn’t ruin it at all,” she says.
It’s not even because she’s leaving the Bake Off far behind: “Obviously it’s a lot nicer to watch now I’m not in it. That element of stress has been removed!”
The reason is more that now, as the author of her very own cook book, the humble baker trusts her own judgement to detect an even bake or a dreaded soggy bottom.
“It’s difficult to get things right when you’re baking but I think I’m good at picking out the faults in my creations – that’s one thing I can say I’m good at! I trust my own criticism and feedback.”
Now that her bakes are fault-free and her brand new book is on the shelves, we sat down with the 22-year-old to get her thoughts…
I wanted to make a book that is the book I wish I’d had when I was preparing for Bake Off. It teaches you how to bake everything. It gives you that beginners guide but also teaches you how to make things your own if you want to adapt it.
On creating her own recipes:
I didn’t have a big back-catalogue of stuff so I just came up with a long list first which was kind of the exciting and creative bit of it. The fun bit of it for me is just thinking of the flavour combinations to start with and then I build the bake around it. But then there was the hard slog of actually testing of every bit…
On her baking philosophy:
I don’t arse about with really expensive equipment. I’ve got no time for recipes that need like a bunny-shaped tin or something like that. There’s nothing in the book that you can’t buy from a supermarket, there’s no equipment you couldn’t just find in any normal store.
On her favourite creation:
There’s a tea loaf recipe in Crumb that I really like. But I like all of them. I’ve worked long enough on all of them, they’ve kind of gained child status, almost!
On Paul and Mary:
There’s no screen persona – they are on screen as they are off screen. But you don’t spend that much time with them [when you’re filming the show]. If anything we had kind of a team spirit attitude as bakers which obviously meant the judges were like the other team in a way. We were united in rallying against the judges!
On Bake Off series five:
I can’t just be entertained by it, I find it very stressful to watch still, especially when you watch and people have got half an hour to finish an awful desert like that baked Alaska.
On Twitter trolls and Bingate:
I feel the editing on my series at least was accurate, but obviously they have a narrative to perpetuate so they have to steer the personalities in certain directions. Some TV competitions shows like The X factor set people up as like the villain or the clown, but with Bake Off it is left reasonably open. There is no direct target of peoples anger, based on their loyalties, so I think they make their own entertainment by assuming certain things about certain people.
On balancing university with her cooking career:
I’m sure I’ll probably end up flunking uni. I had to take time out to write the book. It took four months – I just couldn’t do both at the same time – but I’m going back in September. We’ll see if I can keep it up…
Ruby’s book Crumb: The Baking Book is out now
The Great British Bake Off continues on Wednesdays at 8:00pm on BBC1