Great British Bake Off star explains passion for teaching

Nancy Birtwhistle:
GBBO winner 2014
  (Photo:  )

Just a week after Nancy Birtwhistle won the fifth series of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO), she is looking forward to her future in the world of bakery. In an exclusive interview with British Baker, she updates us on her life since bake-off, and plans for the future.

So Nancy, congratulations on the win, what has it been like since the final?

Well Thursday was crazy; I’ve never had a day like it! We had local television round, then there was national television.

And what will your plans be now; you’ve mentioned you like to teach people?

I’ve not decided anything solid yet. I’m going to get an agent to sort some things and go through my options – there are so many possibilities out there and if I did all of it, I wouldn’t have any time to bake… which is ultimately what I enjoy most.

I love sharing what I know about baking, and I think some of the skills I have learned are definitely worth sharing. I’m not sure if my audience would be younger or older people. I think, sometimes, older people who don’t know how to bake might feel it’s something they should know, and would feel less intimidated learning now from someone like me. So whether I end up teaching people through demonstrating or a bakery school, it’s something I would love to do.

Would you think about getting a book deal?

There are so many bakery books out there, I’d have to think about how to make mine unique. I’d like to think there is a book deal out there for me, and I’ve really enjoyed making a recipe my own. Before, I’d never really tinkered with recipes, but GBBO has really taught me how to be creative, which is something I could really put into a book.

GBBO has gathered a huge following in the UK. What effect do you think it has had on the industry?

I think people love baking: it’s quintessentially British, it’s that summer fête feeling and GBBO encapsulates that so well! I went into the supermarket the other day - this was before the final - and all the bakery shelves had just been wiped out… they were empty! It’s definitely encouraging people to bake, and bringing some excitement to the industry, I would say.

What’s your favourite thing to bake, and where do you get your inspiration from?

I love to bake pastry. It’s so convenient because I can make stuff for a pie and then freeze it. Croissants are also one of my favourite things to eat, they’re so versatile. As for inspiration, I grew up with legends like Delia Smith and Mary Berry, so I guess they have always been there when it comes to baking. But now I get recipes from everywhere, I must have about 200 baking books, and I use them all, each for favourite recipes.

What has GBBO taught you?

I think it has boosted my confidence in my baking, and in general. It has taught me that I don’t get nervous, I’m not fazed by a camera in front of my face. I think a TV show would be great fun for me to do, especially as I’ve got used to seeing myself on television now. I think the show would have to be a bit like me - no nonsense - and I would want to teach people that baking is actually simple, you’ve just got to let yourself make mistakes to master it in the end. 

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