It’s September, which means we can finally say the words: Bake Off’s back!
The much-loved series that acts as part emotional journey, part mouth-watering tour of the baking world returns tonight for its 14th series, once again on Channel 4. Sadly the brilliant Matt Lucas has stepped down from hosting duties but is being replaced by the endlessly loveable Alison Hammond , with Noel Fielding returning. The judges meanwhile are still Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith , who’ll be keeping a keen eye across the tent on the new cohort of contestants.
But who are they exactly? Read on to find out more about this year’s bakers ahead of tonight’s show…
Bake Off 2023 Contestants
First in our lineup is Abbi, born in Yorkshire and is a delivery driver. Taught to bake by her mother, she enjoys the creative side of things and is in her words “not too fussy.” She even forages for her own ingredients, and loves finding new ways to make food that’s both comfortable and exciting. For Abbi, baking is all about getting in touch with the wonders and joys of nature.
Growing up in Nottingham, Amos was also inspired by his mother to take up baking as a hobby, and now lives and works in North London, as a grocery manager. His love of baking is matched by his interest in film and theatre, and he also enjoys the adrenaline rush of theme parks. Baking wise, it’s all about bold colours and bold flavours. Oh, and he lives in a (converted) church.
A mum of four, Cristy lives in East London and is big on pretty, magical bakes that’ll bring you back to childhood. She also likes to combine elements of her Israeli heritage and her husband Ryan’s Jamaican roots into her baking, especially for her kids. She says she doesn’t gel with time constraints and pressure though, but is up for the Bake Off challenge. Her special talent is solving a Rubik’s cube in under four minutes.
Dan comes from Cheshire and has a real love for pies and pastries. The baking and cooking itch began to appear when he took a trip to South America in 2007 and before long became a dab hand. He’s always looking for a challenge, in both cooking and playing football- and like Abbi, he’s also something of a forager. His shelves are apparently lined with 300 cookbooks– but will that aid him in the tent?
Dana grew up with a love and appreciation for her family’s traditional Indian cooking recipes, but during her teens became struck with the lack of bakes amongst them. So, she started to immerse herself in all things baking, and loves experimenting with new ideas. Rustic styles are her speciality, along with a love of spices. However, she admits she’s pretty untidy in the kitchen.
Josh will be a popular punter’s pick this year, since he’s professionally a chemist, and everyone knows that’s the baking science. As you might expect, he’s a meticulous note taker, and whittles down his techniques and baking equations to the perfect result. He also loves to reach back to the past for inspiration, using old baking books and giving them a new twist. In his spare time, he plays rugby for his local team, as he has for over 15 years.
A chartered accountant, Keith is a big fan of baking, with fond memories of apple pie and fairy cakes being baked by his mum, which he then copied. Like Josh, he’s also taken an interest in older baking books, particularly from his youth in the 70s when much of the recipes within were “beyond him”. He’s an all-round baker from pies to breads, and lives with his partner Sue and their poodle, Maisie.
Matty comes from Cambridgeshire, and is a PE and science teacher, but when he’s all done for the day, he looks up patisserie videos and studies them before turning in. Rustic and neat is his preferred style, and he loves chocolate, citrus and nuts. His ultimate baking goal is an unexpected but sweet (no pun intended) one: bake as good a cake as the teddy-bear shaped one his late nan made him for his fourth birthday. It’s something he’s probably looking to achieve for his wedding, as he and fiancée Lara have decided he’ll bake the cake for the day.
Retired cabin crew member Nicky sums up her bakery creations as “being like a pair of comfy old slippers”, though hopefully that’s not too literal. Her early baking memories stem from her grandma’s kitchen, where she dutifully helped to roll out pastries and decorate sweet treats. None of that enthusiasm has dissipated though and she remains as fond of the craft as ever. Breads and birthday cakes are what she’s often found baking, as well as her favourite pastries. She’s also a volunteer for a charity and keen skier.
This year’s youngest baker, Rowan abides by his mantra of “go big or go home.” He applies this to all of his bakes, and learnt to make pork pies, short bread and jam tarts in his younger days in Yorkshire. An English lit student, Rowan is also a big fan of making cocktails and apparently is admired amongst friends and family for his drink mixing skills. He also made his own birthday cake for his most recent birthday, with some 12 layers.
Saku was born in Sri Lanka and moved to the UK two decades ago. She puts the flavours of her roots into her baking, with curry spices being a key staple of her pie recipes, as well as nutmeg and cardamom. Her move to Britain is what really jumpstarted her baking interests, and often made treats for her children’s lunchboxes. She’s a fan of using her own homegrown ingredients, and holds the intriguing job title of intelligence analyst.