Liverpool project manager Mark became the latest to exit The Great British Bake Off and said he’d “gone off the idea of going to Japan” after being eliminated following his less-than-tasty bakes based on that country’s culinary traditions.
The final seven contestants in the BBC One baking competition were introduced to a new challenge: Japanese Week, in which they had to tackle the country’s version of the Asian staple, steamed buns, for the signature challenge. Then they had to create a layered technical, Mille Crepe Cake, and a showstopper inspired by “Kawaii”, the Japanese love of cute, adorable things.
Mark’s showstopper didn’t turn out as he wanted and he said he had “tried his best to understand what Japanese baking was about”.
Judge Prue Leith said it was “a disaster of a showstopper. That’s Bake Off, you only have to do one bad bake and you are out, and one good one and you survive.”
On learning he was leaving The Great British Bake Off, he said: “When you know you know. I just thought it was my time today, they are happy tears and I have made it to week six on Bake Off. I am going home having learned so much and made an amazing bunch of friends. I couldn’t have asked for more in my Bake Off experience – it has been brilliant from start to finish, it really has!”
Mark had always wanted to visit Japan but, unsurprisingly, had gone off the idea. “[Japanese baking] was quite challenging as it’s not something I had baked before… My steam buns were fine, but the technical required a lot of precision which I didn’t have, and for my showstopper I tried to make it as cute as possible, but I didn’t quite have the Japanese technique in my sponges right. So they didn’t turn out as I wanted.”
He explained why he got so emotional about leaving the show. “I never at any point thought I would have got to episode six. It was when I was being sent home, I then registered it was the end of my bake off journey. So there were tears but I was also happy about the thought of beginning a new adventure and what was about to come.”
Prue and fellow judge Paul Hollywood came in for high praise from Mark, who won Star Baker in Chocolate Week, because they made him a better baker.
“I wanted to impress them both equally, they both gave very different points, particularly on Japanese week. I suppose because of Paul’s interest in Japan I wanted to impress him more. With Prue I wanted to impress her with my flavours, she was always so positive with me.
The Great British Bake Off also made him realise how much he loved baking. He had left the show with more confidence and a desire to try new things.
He said: “I’ve realised through my Bake Off journey that baking is not something I just want to do as a hobby. I enjoy it so much and would love it to be an even bigger part of my life. I’m not sure what’s next, but watch this space…”
‘Kawaii is supposed to be about all things loveable, adorable and cute, and on leaving I did get a lot of love from the Bakers and, of course, Noel and Matt. They really weren’t what I expected, they are totally lovely off camera as well. When I left they gave me massive hugs, I really liked them both and got on really well with them throughout the filming.”
Mark will join Jo Brand and Tom Allen on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday 30th October, Channel 4 at 8pm.