Belfast Telegraph

Video: Bake Off star Andrew mixes with 400 fans as he opens new M&S in Northern Ireland

Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

He rose to fame as a contestant on the Great British Bake Off.

Now two years on Andrew Smyth has revealed how he is furthering his ambition of mixing baking with his engineering day job.

The 27-year-old from Holywood, Co Down, a finalist in Bake Off in 2016, was home to open a new Marks & Spencer store at Marlborough Retail Park in Craigavon.

He won fans during his TV stint for his broad smile, unassuming manner and technical mastery in the kitchen.

Yesterday he demonstrated his skills to a crowd of around 400 people by whipping up treacle wheaten bread.

Since the TV baking contest in 2016, which was won by Londoner Candice Brown, he's been working four days a week as an engineer at Rolls-Royce in Derby.

When not at the factory, he works on other projects including running cookery courses and performing at science shows, which use baking techniques to educate audiences about scientific principles.

Lovers of Bake Off, which is currently on Channel 4, will find a resonance in his use of one particular dessert in a scientific demonstration.

A baked Alaska was dumped in the bin by another local man, Iain Watters, during his stint on Bake Off in 2014 after his recipe went badly wrong.

But for Andrew, the oven-cooked ice-cream and meringue combo has a new use.

"I use baking to explore amazing engineering using a baked Alaska to explain how a Space Shuttle can successfully return from orbit," he said.

"The silica in the Space Shuttle insulates the astronauts, and similarly the meringue in a baked Alaska has lots of pockets of air, the same as the thermal protection pile on a Space Shuttle.

"We also use honeycomb to describe how people on the Space Station are protected from micro-meteorites and space debris."

He added: "That is what I really want to pursue in the future, and I am looking at TV opportunities and would love to do a programme on engineering. But, all in all, I'm having a whale of a time."

He's also holds cookery courses for the company Bake With A Legend along with fellow Bake Off finalist Jane Beedle. The course has travelled to Brighton, London and Manchester. "We'd love to come to Northern Ireland if there was the demand," he said.

And the old gang of Bake Off contestants reunited for the wedding in Burgundy of 2016 winner Candice Brown.

The wedding is covered in this week's issue of Hello! magazine. Andrew said all of the contestants contributed their own cake to the celebration. "I made a fruit cake with pastel pink icing and golden sugar paste roses," he said.

He also created a video for YouTube of the 2016 contestants making their road trip to Burgundy for Candice's big day.

He's closely following this year's series, but said he was sad to see Tyrone woman Imelda McCarron knocked out in the first episode.

"She had a lot of poor luck", added Andrew.

The year he was in the show was the final season to be broadcast by the BBC.

Makers Love Production moved to Channel 4 after receiving a higher bid for the show.

Andrew said the change hasn't affected his love of the programme.

However, he he does miss its old presenters, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc.

Their places have been filled by Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.

"The characters are amazing and the baking standards have been excellent. It feels like people, both presenters and audience, have settled into it."

And though he loves to bake from scratch, he's also a fan of M&S baked goods, particularly salted caramel choux nuts.

"I think, for me, M&S is just reliable quality. You know it will be great. People know they can trust it," he added.

Belfast Telegraph