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Suffolk’s Sophie Faldo is this year’s The Great British Bake Off champion

PUBLISHED: 08:27 01 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:54 02 November 2017

The Great British Bake Off 2017 winner Sophie Faldo with judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

The Great British Bake Off 2017 winner Sophie Faldo with judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

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Success has never smelled so sweet for Suffolk’s Sophie Faldo, whose ode to the honey bee showstopper saw her crowned winner of this year’s The Great British Bake Off.

The Great British Bake Off 2017 winner Sophie Faldo. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4 The Great British Bake Off 2017 winner Sophie Faldo. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

The ex Ipswich High School pupil ended her time in the tent with a small breads, iced biscuits and that entremet.

“It was very surreal and I hadn’t allowed myself to think I could win it up to that moment when they said my name. Then the enormity of it hit me.”

The former Royal Artillery officer, who grew up in Birdbrook, near Haverhill; then Little Waldingfield, near Sudbury, rarely got nervous in the tent. On the second day of the final she felt it was a neck and neck race.

“I also knew everything was riding on my showstopper, so I knew how important it was that I got it right. I was happy with most of my bakes, but my favourite was my entremet, particularly as I hadn’t based it on anybody else’s recipe, it was all my own.

“I’d researched it and it came from my obsession with honey. I was inspired by the flavours (honey, lemon and lavender) and then based the entremet around that.”

Sophie, whose parents still live in Suffolk, says she never dreamt she would get to the final, let alone win. She’s not sure what she’ll do next.

“I’m sure it will sink in but it hasn’t quite yet. It would be wonderful to write a patisserie book, but let’s see what comes my way. I would like to try travelling the world for inspiration for starters.”

Her best moment was getting a Hollywood handshake for her signature fruity cake bake in week one, followed by really good comments from judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith for the Les Miserables during the patisserie week technical.

The Great British Bake Off 2017 runners-up Steven Carter-Bailey and Kate Lyon congratulate Sophie Faldo, who won this year's series. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4 The Great British Bake Off 2017 runners-up Steven Carter-Bailey and Kate Lyon congratulate Sophie Faldo, who won this year's series. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

“The judges said it was one of the most difficult technicals ever set in Bake Off and to get good judging made me feel great. Paul and Prue know their stuff and I wholly trusted their opinion, so obviously you are hoping they’re going to like your bakes and of course you are elated when you get good comments from them.”

Sophie, who now lives in Surrey and is training to be a stunt woman, said her worst moment was in week four when her millionaire shortbread wouldn’t set. She also felt her showstopper Savoy cake saved her from going home in forgotten bakes week when she didn’t get good comments for her signature and technical bakes.

Her favourite challenges were probably in patisserie week. She also liked the technicals because you couldn’t be nervous as you didn’t know what was coming and you could almost be forgiven because you may not have known how it was supposed to turn out.

One for keeping her emotions under control, there weren’t any tears during her time in the tent nor at the end of the final.

“If anything it was a relief. If I hadn’t won it I would’ve been so annoyed at myself that I didn’t get it right. I tend in baking to strive for perfection, with a kind of military precision and I want it to all work out perfectly. I like my bakes to look beautiful.

“I think I am pretty cool, calm and collected. I don’t mind working under pressure so being in the tent working under time restraints and the hot weather made me more focused and better organized. I’m a girl who is pretty unfazed by most things and I really enjoy throwing myself into the deep end in anything, so the challenges in Bake Off were something I enjoyed not feared.”

It was the same with filming.

“I got used to the cameras in the tent as I was so focused on what I was doing. I didn’t think too much of the actual show and how I was coming across. I was more interested in getting my bakes right. I was so lucky to stay to the end so got to know the crew really well, a great bunch of people.”

The Great British Bake Off 2017 winner Sophie Faldo. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4 The Great British Bake Off 2017 winner Sophie Faldo. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

She bonded with all the bakers, adding it was sad to see the group shrinking each week.

“As the weeks got to the end we became a very tight support system for each other. Socially we see each other and it’s lovely we have shared that special experience. It’s so good to be part of the big Bake Off family.”

Paul confessed he got a little bit emotional during tonight’s final.

“Sandi (Toksvig, who presents the show with Noel Fielding) got a bit emotional so I walked off quite quickly and said it’s the wind in my eye. It’s been a real learning curve for Sophie. To come up with that entremet for the final; I was really shocked at the standard.”

Fellow judge Prue, who accidentally revealed the winner on Twitter earlier today, added: “Sophie seems very calm but she’s not that confident, possibly because she knows everybody else has more experience than her. I’m so proud of her. I’m really proud of all of them.”

Sophie is the third person from Suffolk to win a major reality TV show this year. Gillian Allard won Sky Arts Master of Photography and Ryan Barrett won BBC Two’s The Great Pottery Throw Down.

After being named the winner, she said: “I don’t think I will forget this day for as long as I live. I’ve met some brilliant people and I got to the final. It’s beyond anything I have dreamed of. What a privilege.” she said after being named the winner.

• Sophie and all the bakers will join Jo Brand on Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Thursday at 10pm.

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