Like Edd, Jo, John, Frances and Nancy before her, Nadiya Hussain won the hearts and minds of Mary, Paul and a nation of avid viewers and trounced her fellow bakers to become winner of Great British Bake Off. Nadiya’s rise to the top (pun firmly intended) was extra heartwarming as her Bake Off journey saw her go from wobbly technical challenges to unrivalled success in all three weekly categories.
By mid-series, she was practically untouchable, a reliable and steely creator of magnificent bakes and the subject of social media hubbub over her infamous animated facial movements and wry quips. She even managed to make Mary cry on camera. Here, we speak to Nadiya and take a look at how she went from humble home baker to the hottest thing to come out of the Bake Off tent.
Nadiya in her own words
Nadiya on her facial expressions…
‘I really hope that I have not become known more for my facial expressions or my eyebrows than my baking! I had no idea that this would become a talking point on social media. It’s all a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously, and I think it reflected what was going on in the tent. After all, it’s just my face isn’t it?’
Nadiya on her showstopper…
‘The Showstopper was a celebration cake, and as I never had my own wedding cake I wanted a proper iced wedding cake. I bought a sari that was red, white and blue, in the colours of the Union Jack and I decorated my stand with that. My husband Abdal’s favourite cake is lemon drizzle, so I decided to make that. At the very end of the filming I took the cake out to my family’s table and we all had a slice. So my husband and I did get our wedding cake after all.’
Nadiya on the emotions of the final…
‘Winning star baker three times was quite emotional, but when I won the technical in the final I just burst into tears, I felt it was all or nothing at that stage. I tried to pass it off as hayfever but that didn’t work, no one bought that. But that was not going to be the end of my tears. As they announced the winner, all I remember is not wanting to look at anyone, so I looked down at my shoes, my heart was racing in my chest and I could hear it thudding in my head. I remember seeing that my shoes were covered in flour, and when I heard my name, I covered my face with my hands as I didn’t want anyone to watch me cry. Mary and Paul hugged me and Mary told me I deserved to win, and that made me cry again. When you get praise from Mary and Paul it’s a wonderful feeling as you hang onto their every word.’
Nadiya on the future…
‘Family life will carry on as normal, being a mum to three small children under 10 is pretty time consuming but I wanted to have my own adventure, which with a very supportive husband and a belief in my own ability, I can now carry on having my adventure. I am really looking forward to seeing what will happen.’
Nadiya’s three best bites
Nadiya’s victory in the final technical challenge was made sweeter by the fact she’d had such a bad run of luck in the early part of the series, coming last in episode one having come a cropper by way of a coffee and walnut sponge. By episode five she’d pulled it together, and was top for three weeks – alternative ingredients, Victorian and patisserie. By the time she hit the final, she was practically baking with her eyes closed (almost) as her raspberry millefeuilles saw her swoop to victory. If you dare to take on rough puff, James Martin’s raspberry millefeuille recipe will give you a finish that’s similar to Nadiya’s winning stack.
Nadiya’s penchant for cartoonish finishing flourishes and flavours (she was the first person to use bubblegum in Bake Off – need we say more?) was best demonstrated during dessert week, when she created stacked fizzy pop cheesecakes (we sense Nadiya might be a fan of pick & mix), complete with a floating can of soda streaming with cascading meringue. If you were agog at her creation, you might be interested to hear suspending something above a bake is easier than you think – and it only requires one extra ingredient. Check out our gravity-defying sweetie cake to get in on the secret.
Chocolate week produced not only one of Nadiya’s best quotes (when asked how she was feeling about the undertaking, she said she’d ‘rather give birth again’) but also her brilliantly bonkers chocolate peacock, which involved cinder eggs, puffed rice and individual feathers made from blue modelling chocolate. We’re not sure we’ll be investing in pliable cyan chocolate any time soon, but we do like Nadiya’s idea of using puffed rice as edible clay to mould shapes, as our fun creations prove.
Inspired by Nadiya and her Bake Off compadres? Visit our baking section for flour-powered inspiration…