Belfast Telegraph

Great British Bake Off: Meet the Northern Ireland jet engineer in the mix - whose speciality may just be rolls

By Eleanor Bley Griffiths

An aerospace engineer from Northern Ireland will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of champion Nadiya Hussain on this year's Great British Bake Off.

Co Down Rolls-Royce employee Andrew Smyth will swap jet engines for jellies and jam doughnuts.

The former pupil of Sullivan Upper in Holywood, who now lives with friends in Derby, is the son of CBI Northern Ireland director Nigel, a leading voice in the world of business.

Andrew is one of 12 amateur bakers taking part in the BBC One show, where they will compete to earn the approval of judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

The jet engine designer's scientific background could lead to some very precise and beautiful bakes, with creations including a baguette Concorde. The 25-year-old will likely make use of the secret recipes passed down by his mother and grandmother.

The oldest contestant in this year's line-up will be Lee, a 67-year-old who has worked in various pastoral ministries for the past 30 years - most recently as the pastor of his local church in Bolton.

A former builder, he had a complete change of direction in the mid-1980s when he turned to theology and took up baking - embracing traditional flavours such as vanilla and chocolate.

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Another contestant, Jane, will draw on a long family tradition of baking when she presents her creations to Hollywood and Berry. The 61-year-old garden designer's grandfather owned a bakery in Hastings and, as a child, she watched her father pipe and ice the cakes.

Also competing is Tom (26), who has managed to shed 30kg despite his passion for baking. He believes in "moderation" and works for The Royal Society of Arts in London.

Heading to the Bake Off tent too is this year's youngest contestant, Michael, a 20-year-old from London who is studying politics and economics in Durham.

Despite living in student digs he enjoys making "big grand cakes" and creating Greek pastries inspired by his Cypriot heritage.

The teaching profession will be well-represented, with teaching assistant Benjamina (23), former primary school head teacher Val (66) and 31-year-old secondary school PE teacher Candice all showing off their baking skills.

Also joining them in the Bake Off tent will be 46-year-old Welsh hairdresser Louise, 37-year-old nurse Kate from Norfolk, 30-year-old Ghanaian Selasi, who works as a client service associate in a financial institution, and 28-year-old Rav, who helps to support students at City University London.

Bake Off presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins will return for more innuendo-laden patter when the show launches on August 24 on BBC One at 8pm.

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