My Time on The Great British Bake Off 2014

Photo Credit: MATTHEW PAGE

Photo Credit: MATTHEW PAGE

 

Before you get to the article, a quick note.  I am writing this part in red on the 2 year anniversary of my season hitting the press.  What a crazy and wild journey it was, and continues to be! Once you have read the below piece on my time in the Bake Off, please stop by the following articles telling you about my time at pastry college where I finally learnt to bake!  That can be found HERE

I am also lucky enough to have a monthly slot on BBC Radio Nottingham, currently alongside Alan Clifford, where I talk about how to avoid perils of popular bakes and a monthly article for the Nottingham Evening Post.  Details about all of these things, and some bakes of my own creation, can be found on my main home page HERE

Thanks for reading, now onto the reason you came here…….

So my time in the bake off is over.  I can honestly say I was, and continue to be, blown away by the whole experience.  I have kept quite quiet in the subject on my blog for the past few weeks as I wanted my time in the show to be done before I passed comment.

When I put in my application, all the way back in December 2013, I didn’t expect to hear anything back at all from the show’s producers (Love Productions).   I entered the show almost as a way to quieten my friends and family around me who had told me I should apply for years beforehand.  If I applied and didn’t hear anything back, well at least I tried!  Imagine my surprise when I received a phone call, not 24 hours after I had pressed send on the original email!

The audition process was lengthy and intense.  Repeated phone calls became long trips down to London, carrying bakes in hand.  Meeting people at these auditions blew my mind as to the professionalism in this series.  The other potential contestants had baked such wonderful, beautiful things that I had written myself off from the start.  To the lady who baked the entire flock of Swans out of Choux Pastry and filled each with smoked salmon moose, I salute you!

After having our bakes judged, some of us were thrust in front of the camera without a moments delay for a short interview before being released, rather dazed, back into the city.  Although I had promised not to, I couldn’t keep my gob shut when asked by some ladies on the train home as to why I was carrying croissants across the country!

After another short wait, back to London I was called.  This time to meet another bunch of hard working bakers and to attempt our first ‘technical challenge’.  Norman and Diana both stood out as outstanding, funny and sweet people who I was sure I would soon see on TV, as was a lovely Scottish lady whose name escapes me.  Wherever you are Scottish lady, I hope you are still baking!  Again I travelled home, fortunate for the experience but under no illusions that I would get any further.

Some time passed and I heard nothing.  Feeling my time in this process was done, I carried on with my normal day to day life, unaware of what was to come! Out of the blue I received a call asking me to start to organise some things to film in my home town of Nottingham! Me at work, at home, baking things or playing games with friends.  Love productions wanted to film it all! Being told not to tell anyone what was going on, then having to explain a film crew following you round at work, is a difficult ask.  They were “filming my 1976 Chopper bike” was my reply when asked!  During this day filming I was told “You are on the show” by the wonderful producer Anna.  Suffice to say, I partied a little that weekend.

Then the recipes started arriving.  Challenge after challenge would hit my inbox with deadlines that seemed all too short.  36 miniature cakes, who has ever baked that many?!  A 3D biscuit scene?  I beg your pardon?!  Each challenge had to be worked on, documented and sent back to Love for approval.  On the first recipe of the show, the Swiss roll, I was told that ‘under no circumstances’ was I allowed to use shop brought marzipan so, if I wanted to use it, I had to make my own.  Fair enough, I replied, knowing the standard was going to be high that year.  It paid to be a neighbour of mine over these weeks as cake after cake, biscuit after biscuit and pie after pie was hurried from my kitchen to waiting hands!

Cut forward a few, frantic, weeks and filming drew ever closer.  Receiving letters in the post marked ‘CONFIDENTAIL’ only furthered my excitement.  I am the type of person who likes to know exactly what I am going to have to do but Love like to keep people a little in the dark.  I believe this is to stop people (the press) finding out any info and to keep the excitement levels up amongst us bakers. Rules on what to wear (no logos or recognizable characters) meant I had to go and buy a new wardrobe, rules on my hair dictated the use of hair clips.  All while still practicing my bakes and getting anxious!

When the first filming day finally reached me, back in April, I think I speak for all the bakers when I say we were a little nervous.  Being herded into a large room with 11 other people who are as in the dark as I was and being introduced to each other will stay with me forever.  It continues to amaze me that 12 people from such varied backgrounds got on so well from the get go.  Out for dinner we went, constantly being reminded by the production staff to keep our talking down when out and about in public!

As for filming the show, I will let the show speak for itself.  I will say that it is filmed exactly as you see on TV, even if the wait times in-between challenges and the like are FAR longer than you would think! Nerves were high in that tent at all times, amongst all contestants.  Trying to replicate what you know you can make at home in the pressure pot of filming was too much for me to bear by bread week, and so home I went!

From the end of the first week, I knew I was somewhat out of my depth.  After seeing Nancy’s Jaffa Orange Cakes, the best cakes I have ever eaten I hasten to add, I knew that my time in the tent would be fairly short!  I had seen this as an educational experience from the outset and I sure have learnt a lot from the other contestants during my time on the show.  I wasn’t sad when I left the show, in fact I was quite looking forward to a lie in!  I was just so very happy to have met such wonderful people and to have shared in this experience with them.

The long wait between my exit from the tent and the show beginning has been one of the longest in my life.  With so many questions about how it would come across, how it would be edited, how my (sometimes awful) bakes would look on TV buzzing around my head, I was almost beside myself at times!  I am a patient man but this tested me, that’s for certain.

Now the show is done and over, for me at least, I am able to begin to look back on it.  Watching yourself on TV is always going to be a difficult experience, in fact I remember Sue Perkins saying she never does.  Giving many weekends, some of which were the most stressing of my life, over to an unknown editor and watching yourself be condensed down into soundbites will never be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.  At least it wasn’t for me! Still, the Love Productions folk did a wonderful job, showing both highs and lows for each of us in turn and being especially nice to each of us on our final episodes.  I owe them great thanks, even if they did deny my request to be edited into a ‘Supervillan’ of baking!

The attention I have received since being on the show has been huge, fun and sometime scary. The local press in Nottingham has been wonderful, the Nottingham Post and BBC Radio Nottingham getting behind and supporting me far more than I ever expected.  They have published post after post about me and my journey through the show.  I hope the cake and biscuits I delivered was good enough payment guys?  The people I have met round Nottingham who have approached me to say good luck, or commiserations, have all been lovely and has made me smile, even through the harder times!

Unfortunately, as always seems to be the case nowadays, the show has attracted some level of spite and vitriol from some corners.  To the people in the press or those on Twitter who have had bad things to say about me, or any other contestant, I want to say that I feel sorry for you.  If the best thing you can do, to a group of people who have given their time and love to make a program you enjoy, is to talk smack then what sad lives you must lead.  I only hope you can find some peace and love in your life, like I have been allowed in mine, so you can see the pointlessness and hurt in your comments.

Still, those have been in the minority.  To all my new Twitter followers who have given me support and encouragement, you all rock!  I hope you will continue to follow me as I try and bake my signature brand of overly complex, sometime chaotic bakes!  To those people I know in my personal life, those who have hugged me and picked me up when times are bad and who have pushed me to do my best with a smile on my face, I love you all.  My perfect girlfriend especially.  Without you I would of been a jabbering wreck in the corner of a room by now.

To my other bakers, be you already gone from the tent or still with weeks to go, I wish you all the luck in the world.  Never in my life have I met such a bunch of amazingly talented folk.  You all deserve to touch those stars you reach for.  Never lose touch.

 

Jordan

 

XX

(51) Comments Write a comment

  1. What a good and thoroughly honest account of your Bake Off experience. I just love to bake for pleasure and watching the show is part of that. I would hate to be judged by anyone, especially by people who don’t know me! Keep it real Jordan, and carry on baking!

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  2. Aaaw! Well put hun! You’re bloody brave that’s for sure! Re bread week – I would of shoved the whole cheesecakey briochey goodness in my face at once!! Looked so tasty! Keep on baking! LLAP x

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  3. Jordan you were awesome to watch, you came across exactly how you are in real life. I’m so proud of you, you did amazing!!! Well done sweetie, always knew Bon Bon picked a good un xx

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  4. What a brilliant piece of writing. Don’t ever doubt yourself you were one of the final twelve who made it out of thousands. Good luck in the future and perhaps this year I’ll hit the send button to ap

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  5. Jordan,

    This is such a lovely article and insight to what it was to be part of the GBBO. I wish you well for the future as you truly deserve it. We need more people like you in the world then it would be a better and more entertaining place. And as you said you can only feel sorry for those people who bad mouth people with the guts and get up to be put in the public eye. Keep baking and wearing those shirts!!! X

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  6. lovely post Jordan. You are much braver than I could ever be, and I am sure you will enjoy your baking much more now your family and friends stop nagging you to go on the telly!! 🙂

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  7. Oh Jordan! What a lovely post. I loved your zany personality & individuality from the first episode (though I confess to being Team Iain!) and this has confirmed my belief that you are a lovely man. It’s good to read about the process of joining & being in Bake Off, an insiders view if you will. Sorry to see you go but there are some awesome bakers there & the standard is higher than ever this year. The very best of luck with whatever you do next with your baking – hope this isn’t the last we hear of you!

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  8. Love your blog about your time at GBBO! I was always wondering about the challenges, when you would get the recipes and so on. Didn’t realise that you had to send them back for approval! What I stil wonder about when watching the show, did you get the recipes for the challenges all before starting the filming? Or just a week in advance during the filming? Made your breadrolls with rye and spelt, they are yummie! Sorry that you had to leave the show. Wish you all the bakersluck in the world.

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  9. Hi Jordan. What a wonderful piece of writing. I love the show, have done from the beginning and as I may have said to you and others on Twitter, as far as I’m concerned you are all winners, especially being the final 12 out of what must have been thousands upon thousands of entries. I will continue to follow you and your baking goings on. Keep up the good work.

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  10. I quite enjoyed reading your thoughts! I was fortunate enough to be part of An Extra Slice and meeting people who loved baking as much as I did encouraged me to strive to improve my baking. I can’t imagine how much more inspiring it is to ge surrounded by so many baking superstars — which I think you should count yourself as one!

    And I agree — as my granny always said: if you have nothing nice to say shush.

    Very well done sir! 🙂

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  11. Fabulous article Jordan. Well done for your time on the BakeOff #teamnottingham! And absolutely agree with your comments about the haters, really upsetting and ridiculous!

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  12. How beautifully and gallantly written. Your are a real gent Jordan and deserve every success in your life. The world would be a much better place if there were more like you.

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  13. Hi Jordan. Thank you for sharing your GBBO journey, really interesting post. I loved your contribution to the show, and was very sad when your time was up. You are a thoroughly nice guy and I wish you lots of success in the future x

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  14. Well done, mate. You were fun to watch on the show and a good, positive character. We need more friendly people like you in the world, especially if you’re all making biscuits!

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  15. I can’t believe that I was sat there flicking through the channels and landed on the GBBO only to see you, Jordan, on the show. I was staring at the screen thinking “hold on. This is an IT geek who’s been sat in my classroom and is now famous on the bake off. How cool is that?”. So sorry to see you go out but thank you for getting me to now watch the whole series of ‘Bake Off’.
    You probably don’t remember a lowly old Windows trainer from QA, called Russell, but I surely remember you. Thanks for the baking and have a great future in whatever you choose to pursue.

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  16. Sorry to see you go so soon, I loved your enthusiasm and cheerfulness. Glad you found the whole experience so rewarding. Really enjoyed your appearance on Extra Slice as well!

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  17. Great insight so sorry you left Captain Chaos now you can go on baking without the pressure as it should be x

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  18. Well done Jordan. I thought you were a genuine lovely person and cooked with enthusiasm and love.

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  19. Wow, well done Jordan! It was fun to watch you and the others bake and I loved reading your blog, brilliant writing 🙂 good luck for the future and thank you for entertaining us.
    Xx

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  20. You write well Jordan and you were a joy to watch. Don’t ever pay attention to your good or bad press. You just do what makes you happy and let the plaudits and arrows fall where they may.

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  21. Hello! You might not be able to say, but I’ve always wondered whether the production company give each contestant a budget? There must be lots of practising and it always looks like people have brought their own specific tins etc from home. Loved your biscuit monster!

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    • We do get a limited amount of money each episode. Not much though. I reckon I spent about £2000 all in on ingredients, presentation stands etc! It’s an expensive business!

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  22. Well said, your account of “the tent” is articulate and insightful. I am glad you were there and gave it your best shot. Other bakers from past seasons of bake-off confirm how time consuming and stressful the experience is. I am very impressed with how well you have handled it and loved your unique style. Ignore the haters, and continue to bake and be yourself. Cheers!

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  23. An honest, well-written and fascinating account of the bake off process. Given the subsequent furore around bin-gate It’s encouraging to know that the camaraderie in the tent was genuine.

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  24. Jordan, you were great on the show, and on the other show with Jo Brand, which was really funny.
    Well done keeping it all so light, and upbeat – you all seem so genuine.
    Your sense of humour came through big time- keep on baking and well done.

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  25. Thank you for your wise, insightful and fascinating blog. We so enjoyed watching you. Keep being you and happy baking.

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  26. Fascinating!! When you see the finished product being aired on a Wednesday you have absolutely no idea as to all the hard work over many months that has led to the chosen 12 arriving at the tent! I am sure the gym membership in your area shot through the roof with all your neighbours trying to work off the fruits of your labour.
    It is also very interesting to hear of all the spins offs that come with the exposure from a show such as GBBO, I hope we continue to hear about the exploits of Jordan the baker for a long time to come.
    Thanks again for the insight into the world behind the “tent”
    Bake On!!

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  27. Jordan. I thoroughly agree with everything that’s been said. Keep on with baking but also, please, carry on writing. You are a brilliant writer. I’ll be following you on Twitter from now on.

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  28. Just to say I thought you were awesome on An Extra Slice. Great dry and witty sense of humour, my daughter and I really enjoyed that episode.

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  29. Wonderful post Jordan, thank you.
    It was really interesting to hear a little more about your journey into the talented twelve – I’ve always been surprised that BakeOff don’t include an episode showing some top bakes from the heats and the selection of the final twelve.
    …[To Bake Off producers – COME ON! A flock of choux pastry swans – we want to be seeing that!]
    Can’t wait to see more of your “chaotic bakes” Jordan!

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  30. Sod the meanies, jealous monsters! They’ve never been on gbbo, let’s hope karma comes round and they forever have flat cakes! Love this peice, interesting to hear of the process. You were great on the show. Hoping it gives you a platform to venture out there x

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  31. Dear Jordan, you and Martha were my favourites and I cried when you left the competition! We used to live in Nottingham too! I made cookies yesterday and we’re going to try to make some standing-up biscuits soon just like on the programme. You were great.

    from Rosie aged 7 (dictated to her mum 🙂 )

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    • Thank you very much Rosie! I’m glad you liked what I baked on TV. You will have to get your mum to send me pictures of your future bakes as I would love to see what you have made!

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      • It was really kind of you to reply – it made Rosie’s day, so thank you VERY much! The Bake Off has inspired us to extend our cooking range (from, er, not much) and we will update you with the standing-up cookies 🙂 fingers crossed they’ll stay vertical!

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  32. Lovely and personable post! I’m travelling to London on Monday to audition for Britains best potter. Keep having concerns about what to expect. Like you, I threw my bonnet in thinking that nothing would come of it. And then… something came of it! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. C

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  33. I was wondering if you were queer or gender questioning? It kind of seemed that way to me but I didn’t want to ask I guess. I’m a trans boy and you were my favorite!

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    • Hi Alex,

      Nope, cant say I am! I have been with my fiancee for 11 years now and we are very happy! I don’t mind you asking at all though.

      I was lucky to be brought up in a house hold that did not see fit to pigeon hole people. I let myself be myself and try to be nice to all other people at all times! Gay or straight, boy or girl, as long as we all love each other then the world would be a far happier place!

      Glad you loved the program!

      Yours always

      Jordan

      XX

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  34. Rewatching your season again. For the maybe 20th time 🙂 It just my favorite food related show ever. Your website is lovely. Bookmarking it – cheers!

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  35. Hi Jordan. I hope you are well. You have been my favourite on all of the Bake Offs and i do follow you and you inspired me to apply!! Just a quick question though, after sending in my application I received a phone call from the production team for a quick chat. I was so taken back and excited that I got a bit tongue tied and didn’t know the answers to some of the questions 😞 I feel I could have done better really. When they called you did they tell you there and then or did you have to wait for another call inviting you to London? I’m on tender hooks!!!

    Kind regards

    Mark

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    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks very much@ It took about a week from getting the call to being invited down to London, or up to Manchester depending on your location. Dont know if it would be the same nowadays though, what with the move to C4.

      Good luck though! Hope you make it through. You should be very pleased with getting an initial phone call though, very few do!

      Cheers

      Jordan

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  36. Thanks Jordan, I’m pleased you are doing well,you deserve it,actually deserved to win in my book!! I’ve got my fingers crossed but the waiting is unbearable! Do you think getting some questions wrong will hinder my chance? Doesn’t mean I’m not a good baker!! Take care
    M X

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  37. Jordan, you are now a favorite in the States on PBS as well! I adored your biscuit (we say cookie) display, mostly because it reminded me of when my son got me hooked on Hayao Miyazaki films. I was wondering if you would post your Bourbon biscuit recipe. When my bakes start going wrong, now, I start yelling, “I’m failing the technical challenge!”

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    • Thanks very much! It all feels so long ago now so it is wonderful to still get comments like your!

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