Young borough baker Fin wins top TV junior cooking competition

Fin with the judges after his victory. Picture from Channel 4
Fin with the judges after his victory. Picture from Channel 4

A talented young baker from the borough has been crowned Junior Bake Off 2019 champion in front of a national TV audience.

Fin, from Tyldesley, took the coveted title after cooking up a storm to impress judges Prue Leith and Liam Charles.

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The 13-year-old was crowned winner after beating competition from 19 other young talents who entered the tent to battle through two rounds of heats and a finals week.

Fin said: "‘It was probably the most surreal thing that has ever happened to me. The pause between announcing and the winner is… to saying my name seemed to
go on for ages.

"My legs were shaking so much, and when I heard it was me, my legs collapsed with the sheer exhaustion of it all. I was so overwhelmed as all the other bakers ran over to hug me.

"I pulled myself together and took the trophy from Liam. My sister shed a little happy tear, my mum was in shock, and I was too when I heard my name.

"I think I was too stunned to cry. It was one of the best days of my life!”

Fin's victory was also celebrated in the borough, with Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley posting a message on its Facebook page which read: "Well done Fin! Everyone at school is so proud of you. A fantastic achievement!"

The bakers were pushed to their limits in the iconic white tent through a series of tough technical challenges and scintillating showstopper rounds.

In the final Fin battled it out with three other young bakers, Aleena, Amal and Eliza, to create multiple bakes for a summer tea party.

They then faced their first signature challenge in which they had to prepare iced buns and inside out biscuits.

Finally, the showstopper challenge was to make a cake in the form of the competition's trophy.

Fin started by baking Truly Scrumptious Iced Buns and Inside Out Cupcake biscuits, earning top comments from the judges for his flavours, and ended with a stunning Show-stopping Trophy Cake which impressed both Prue and Liam equally.

He said: "My best moment was the final when Liam was judging my cake with Prue, and they both really liked the whole Showstopper. It was a three tiered cake: the bottom tier was
orange and almond sponge covered in orange marzipan; the next tier was lemon and blueberry, and the top tier was a vanilla Genoese with a strawberry filling. Both Liam and Prue loved the flavours."

However, Fin admitted the competition, which saw the contestants have to rustle up everything from Madeleines and illusion biscuits to a savoury bread that represented their dream job, was not all plain sailing.

He said: "‘My worst moment – I have two. One was the first day of the Finals week when my chocolate and salted caramel tart melted and just went into a mud slide! I was mortified
as I watched it just drip onto the tablecloth.

"And then probably seeing all the bakers leave, as we got really close to each other. We played games in the house in between filming, a lot of Uno was played. We also played Frisbee and tennis outside in the grounds of the school where Junior Bake Off is filmed."

Fin's achievements are all the more impressive as he has been baking for just two years, teaching himself culinary skills through Youtube videos and books.

He spoke of getting picked for the TV programme and getting to meet some of his baking heroes in the tent.

And he said his first appearance in front of the cameras has whetted his appetite for making a career in the kitchen.

He said: "When I first heard I was going to be in the series, I think the first emotion was amazement and I felt a bit weird. Then I had to really practice like a maniac to make
sure I would be good enough in the tent.

"Walking in for the very first time on Bake Off was like a dream come true to me, it’s not like what you see on television. My first thought was wow this is a massive tent, it seemed really huge to me.

"There wasn’t really a huge competitive atmosphere from the very start as we all supported each other inside and outside of the tent. We would try to pick up a baker that might be a bit down if their baking hadn’t gone well that day.

"‘I started baking with my gran, and I think it was more probably helping her, and licking the bowl than actually cooking. My mum is always there to help and she is the best washer upper I know, as I can be a bit messy in the kitchen!

"My dad constantly eats everything I make, but also sometimes helps me bake. I left him once kneading some bread and I came back after half an hour and he was still kneading!

"My schoolfriends are so excited and my teachers have been really supportive, they have been championing me throughout the series, of course not knowing that I won. I take bakes in for my class about three or four times a week, so they were good guinea pigs to test them!

"I love watching Prue on Bake Off and to meet her was a special moment, I think I was a bit starstruck but she was lovely and put me at ease. She is really nice and supportive, and tells you the best comment even if the bake might have been a bit of a disaster, just to bring you up again. And when she says something nice it really means a lot.

"Liam was great because he acted like the same age as us, he was very funny and so kind to all of the bakers, especially the ones that had to leave, and he told us to be proud of ourselves for getting this far and that always made the exiting baker feel a lot better.

"I know I am still young but I would love to be a TV chef when I grow up or be a pastry chef, and I would love to write my own cookery book."

Following Fin's triumph Prue said: "Fin absolutely deserved to win, he pushed himself as hard as he could and all his cakes were just absolutely wonderful!"