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You think about your bakes and hope you don’t muck up says Great British Bake Off’s Sophie Faldo from Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:52 29 August 2017

Sandi Toksvig, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith and Noel Fielding with this year's Great British Bake Off hopefuls Chris, Yan, Sophie, Julia, Liam, Tom, Peter, Stacey, James, Kate, Steven and Flo. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

Sandi Toksvig, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith and Noel Fielding with this year's Great British Bake Off hopefuls Chris, Yan, Sophie, Julia, Liam, Tom, Peter, Stacey, James, Kate, Steven and Flo. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

© Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions/Channel4 (Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way) CHANNEL 4 PICTURE

The Great British Bake Off returns Tuesday night on its new home Channel 4. Sophie Faldo is one of three East Anglian hopefuls looking to rise to the top this year.

Sophie, who grew up in Suffolk, is taking part in The Great British Bake Off this year. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4 Sophie, who grew up in Suffolk, is taking part in The Great British Bake Off this year. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

Let’s hope Sophie’s time in The Great British Bake Off tent goes better than the time she made porridge.

“I nearly burned down the kitchen when I forgot about it and went to work, but other than that, nothing catastrophic,” she says about her worst and best moments in the kitchen.

“The best would probably be the practice for Bake Off. It really stretches you to do things you normally wouldn’t.”

The former Royal Artillery officer is one of 12 hopefuls taking part in the new series, which airs on Channel 4 at 8pm tomorrow after its controversial move from the BBC.

Now living in Surrey, the 33-year-old’s family moved from London to Birdbrook, near Haverhill, when she was young and then to Little Waldingfield near Sudbury.

She spent a while at boarding school before attending Ipswich High. Her parents still live in Suffolk. They were very surprised she’d entered the show.

“I didn’t tell them. Until I invited them to the baker’s picnic they had no idea. I don’t think they knew I baked either.”

Someone mentioned The Great British Bake Off to her last year when they’d seen a few cakes she’d made. At that point she’d never made anything other than a cake.

The Great British Bake Off's Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig in discussion. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4 The Great British Bake Off's Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig in discussion. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

“I look back and my first few cakes look quite rudimental to me now.

“At the time I was only interested in the decorating part; I found the cake baking part a bit of a nuisance. Now they’re equally important. But it was the start of everything for me and my love for baking.

“On Bake Off you have to be so versatile so it wasn’t until my boyfriend and I were working in the Alps and I got to spread my wings and teach myself some of the other stuff that I took the plunge. He actually started my application for me.”

Sophie didn’t realise how useful her military background would be.

“I suppose you just get used to developing in a certain way because of your training and you don’t realise how lucky you are to have those skills and traits until you can directly compare yourself to others in the same situation.

“Don’t get me wrong, Bake Off is different from anything else I’ve done so the nerves were still there.

“But I was able to keep my cool and make last minute decisions that definitely helped me. I have my time in the army to thanks for that.”

I wonder what’s scarier, training to be a stuntwoman or carring her bake to the gingham altar ready for judging by new judge Prue Leith and the returning Paul Hollywood?

Sophie, who grew up in Suffolk, is taking part in The Great British Bake Off this year. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4 Sophie, who grew up in Suffolk, is taking part in The Great British Bake Off this year. Photo: Mark Bourdillon / Channel 4

“I’ve only just started training to get onto the stunt register, which takes years, so all I’m doing right now is getting better at my hobbies like taekwondo, rock climbing and scuba diving, all very relaxing stuff.

“I wouldn’t say the walk up to the altar is scary as such. The judging can take quite a while and if you suspect it’s going to be a bad judging then you are just relieved to get it over and done with.”

She can’t say enough good things about new judge Prue and new hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.

“I’m a huge fan of Sandi’s, her levels of intellect and quick wit are astounding and she and Noel were so lovely to us. Right from the off they came into the tent to see how we all were and put us at ease. Noel was incredibly down to earth and actually they make a great pair.”

Prue, she adds, was a fantastic choice to replace Mary Berry.

“You only have to look at her resume to see the incredible things she’s achieved. She knows her stuff so we totally respected her feedback,” says Sophie, adding her time in the tent has been a once in a lifetime experience.

“You really do get a very good idea of how it really is inside the tent from what you get to see on the show. It’s nicer now to be able to look back.

“I miss being in the tent and the other bakers, but at the time it was harder to fully enjoy it as you’re always just thinking about your bakes and hoping you don’t muck up. We were in our little bubble in the tent, but now it’s in the public domain, it’s getting a bit surreal.”

There are two other East Anglian bakers taking part in this year’s Great British Bake Off.

James, from Brentwood, who blames his passion for baking on his dad and official taste tester Brian; and Peter, also from Essex. You can read all about their experiences in the GBBO tent soon. Read my chat with 2014 quarter-finalist Martha Collison here.

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