Exactly a year on from her win, Frances Quinn has recovered from the whirlwind experience of reality TV and has, she says, become a “culinary conductor”. She has worked for some huge brand names, making batches of cookies commissioned by Nike, and always escorts each of her edible masterpieces to their final destination. Over nine million viewers tuned into the final, where Frances beat Ruby and Kimberley with her whimsical wedding cake, based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She may have been the underdog throughout the series, but she emerged as the people’s choice. Her success has been overwhelming; Frances has appeared in Vogue magazine, attended the Baftas and saw in 2014 at Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. There is also a book in the pipeline, continuous TV offers and the phone is ringing off the hook with orders for her famous bakes.
Edd Kimber is known as “the boy who bakes”. Originally a debt collector, he was persuaded by friends and family to enter the show’s first series back in 2010. Fighting off competition from 4,000 applicants, he went on to be crowned winner and has never looked back. Edd has certainly been busy in the four years since. After winning the show he went on to work at Raymond Blanc’s restaurant Le Manoir, where he continued to learn his pastry skills. He has made several appearances on TV shows, including the Alan Titchmarsh Show, and has published three cookbooks: Patisserie Made Simple, which is available to pre-order now, the aptly-named The Boy Who Bakes in 2011, and Say It With Cake in 2012. He currently runs his own blog and if you want to master the art of making the perfect macaroon, you will find Edd teaching regular master classes in London.
Jo Wheatley had a passion for baking from a very young age. In fact, one of her earliest memories, she says, is making jam tarts with her grandmother. Jo perfected her cooking and baking skills on her lucky three sons and husband, and was thrilled to have won the show back in 2011 against some tough competition. After winning, Jo set up a cookery school from her home in Essex, where she teaches classes such as bread making, cupcake decorating and family cakes. She even taught restaurant critic Jay Rayner how to make scones on BBC’s The One Show. She has also written two hugely successful recipe books: A Passion For Baking and Home Baking, which feature everything from tasty pies and tarts to the perfect focaccia and American-style pancakes, as well as her tried-and-tested tips and tricks.
John Whaite gave up his successful career in law to follow his love of baking. A keen baker from a ripe age, he would spend many afternoons in the kitchen with his mother, watching and helping her cook. He learnt a lot about local produce after growing up on a dairy farm, and went on to work at his parents’ fish and chip shop at the tender age of ten. After winning the Bake Off in 2012, he was able to give up his job and follow the one thing he is truly passionate about: food.Since the show, his devotion to baking has seen him take part in many food shows and interviews. In 2013 he achieved one of his lifelong ambitions and did a stint at Le Cordon Bleu in London, studying a nine-month patisserie diploma. He has also published two successful cookbooks: John Whaite Bakes and John Whaite Bakes At Home. Earlier this year, John launched The Hungry Dog Artisan Chocolates, his exclusive hand-made chocolate shop. Like Jo, he also hosts regular baking classes.
It was whilst working at a small Glasgow deli that James Morton realised his love for bread. He watched The Great British Bake Off in 2011 and, with encouragement from his university peers, decided to apply for the show the following year. While he narrowly missed out on the 2012 crown to John Whaite, he hasn’t abandoned his baking dreams completely. Although he has returned to medical school to become a doctor, he still fulfils his passion for baking, in particular bread-making. Fascinated by the “science” behind it and the therapeutic process of making it, he released his first book, Brilliant Bread, last year. The book shows the reader how to make all kinds of bread – from flatbreads and sourdoughs to pretzels and doughnuts. The book has been hugely popular, with many readers appreciating his no-nonsense, easy-to-follow tips.
Mary-Anne Boermans was a finalist in the second series of The Great British Bake Off, where she won the general public over with her in-depth knowledge on the history of baking. In fact, Mary-Anne has claimed to have amassed a collection of over 900 recipe books, with most of them being based on classic British recipes. Although she missed out on the winning crown, she has gone on to become a successful food blogger and is also the author of Great British Bakes: Forgotten Treasures for Modern Bakers. The book is a result of her years of thorough research into the history of British cooking and, as well as teaching the reader how to bake delights such as rich orange tart, butter buns and Welsh honey cake, it is an informative and entertaining read, too. Mary Berry is a clear fan of the book, stating it is “brilliantly researched from a true foodie”.
Crowned “the iced biscuit queen” by none other than Mary Berry herself, Miranda Gore-Browne came second in the first ever series of The Great British Bake Off. She was given much praise for her home baking, said to be consistently delicious and beautifully presented. A mother to two small children, she has a passion for putting baking at the centre of home life. Miranda writes for her popular blog and runs through ideas based on seasonal baking and cooking with the kids. She also holds demonstrations and master classes on a regular basis and is an ambassador for Squires Kitchen. She has published two books: Biscuit, which takes the reader through her signature biscuits – from jammy dodgers to pistachio macaroons – that wowed the judges back in 2010, and Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can, where she whips up over 100 super easy recipes – perfect for beginner bakers.
At just 20 years old, Ruby Tandoh made it to the final of The Great British Bake Off last year. Tipped to win, she narrowly missed out on the top spot to Frances. However, she created some memorable dishes with her creative use of ingredients and her ‘substance over style’ approach. She is now a columnist for both the Guardian and Elle magazine and bakes and blogs from her home in Essex.Ruby’s book, Crumb, is said to be a “celebration of the simple joy of baking”, and is a mixture of traditional favourites with new and interesting flavour combinations. Ruby knows that everyone has to start somewhere, encouraging novices to get baking. From sticky toffee pudding to rose & burnt honey florentines, this baking book is certainly one to cherish.
Tell us who you’re most excited about seeing bake this series in the comments box below.