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