I still don’t know how I won the Bake Off

Still pinch­ing her­self to check she’s not dream­ing, Candice Brown tells about life since

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FOOD & DRINK - ELLA WALKER

CANDICE BROWN won the BBC’s Great Bri­tish Bake Off last year, and now has her first book out. Let’s just say, she’s still try­ing to get her head around th­ese re­ally quite de­li­cious facts.

“It’s funny say­ing that... ‘My book!”’ she says, laugh­ing.

Win­ning Bake Off would, you’d think, pre­pare a per­son for au­to­matic cookbook dom­i­na­tion and a tasty TV ca­reer. How­ever, 32-year-old for­mer PE teacher Candice is still ut­terly gob­s­macked.

In fact, when she got the call con­firm­ing her book deal, she was wan­der­ing around Fort­num & Ma­son, star­ing at the meat in the butcher’s sec­tion – and had to hang up to gaze, stunned, at the car­casses for a while longer, while the news sunk in.

Three manic months of writ­ing, cook­ing, de­vel­op­ing (and very lit­tle sleep) later, and the re­sult is Com­fort, a col­lec­tion of Candice’s tried-and-tested home clas­sics: “The sort of things you want to stick your face in, grab a spoon, dive straight in and worry about burn­ing your mouth later”.

Squidged between snaps of her pug Den­nis, the recipes are huge, deca­dent and some­times bor­rowed treats – think an enor­mous, bub­bling shep­herd’s pie, sausage rolls the size of bricks, and her beloved nan’s boiled fruit cake.

Piec­ing recipes to­gether was some­thing of a chal­lenge though, as Lon­don-born Candice ad­mits she’s “aw­ful at writ­ing them down”.

“My boyfriend Liam would al­ways say to me, ‘Are you writ­ing that down?’ And I’d go, ‘YES, YES!’, know­ing full well I’m not writ­ing any­thing down at all, be­cause I do what I call a ‘guess-a-cake’ – I just whack ev­ery­thing in and hope for the best.

“But then, if it works re­ally well I’ll be like, ‘Argh, what did I put in that?!”’

And if it goes hor­ri­bly wrong? “Don’t worry about it,” she says. “You ei­ther don’t tell any­one and start again, or you turn it into some­thing else and say it was sup­posed to look like that – that’s how I get by a lot of the time.”

Mi­nor mishaps aside, Candice, who started bak­ing be­fore she was five, con­sid­ers it “one of the only things that comes nat­u­rally to me”, but still doesn’t com­pre­hend fully how she won Bake Off.

“I don’t think I was the best baker in the tent,” says the pub land­lord’s daugh­ter, with­out ar­ti­fice. “Some days I still don’t know how I did what I did, be­cause I hadn’t been able to do it at home.

“Dad al­ways said I was the same at univer­sity and school. I’d say, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do it’, then the pres­sure would hit, and I’d get my head down and do it.”

In the end, she beat fi­nal­ists An­drew Smyth and Jane Bee­dle to the crown. “It’s crazy, it’s stress­ful, in­tense, it’s tir­ing – but I’d do it a hun­dred times over,” she says, re­call­ing how de­mand­ing it was man­ning an oven while at the mercy of Mary Berry and Paul Hol­ly­wood’s taste buds. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

And yes, she will be watch­ing the new se­ries on Chan­nel 4. “It’s al­ways been my favourite pro­gramme – it’s go­ing to be so funny. Prue (Leith) is a culi­nary leg­end, then you’ve got Paul who’ll just give that icy stare and wind ev­ery­one up.

“And you know what? The breaks are just go­ing to give you time to go for a wee and get a cup of tea.”

Com­fort: De­li­cious Bakes And Fam­ily Treats by Candice Brown, pho­tog­ra­phy El­lis Par­rinder, is pub­lished in hard­back by Ebury Press, priced £20.

Candice Brown pic­tured at a food mar­ket in an im­age form her new cook book Com­fort, be­low left

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