Belfast Telegraph

Will Irish Bake Off be wee buns for east Belfast hopeful Stephen Chisholm?


On your marks, get set, bake. The famous words getting Belfast student Stephen Chisholm's pulse racing as he cooks – or rather bakes – up a storm on the Great Irish Bake Off.

Following the phenomenal success of the BBC series Great British Bake Off – judged by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry – an Irish version of the hit television show was filmed this summer and is being broadcast on TV3.

Stephen (22), from the Belmont area of east Belfast, is one of 12 bakers from across the island, whittled down from several hundred applicants, who know their soggy bottoms from their good bakes.

The final year University of Ulster business studies student, who is now considering baking as a career, is the only contestant from Northern Ireland featuring on the show, presented by former nun and Big Brother contestant Anna Nolan.

A rugby player for Church of Ireland Young Men In Sport and a qualified ski instructor, Stephen's interests are wide and varied, but he admits to loving nothing more than baking and the joy it brings his friends and family.

"I've always been interested in food," Stephen said.

"My mum encouraged us to cook and I would have helped her bake cakes and buns. Around the end of my gap year in Canada in 2011 I decided to give baking a bit more of a go.

"I had a good number of successes and got into it from there."

Stephen explained that baking outside the show is very relaxing and he loves the positive reaction he gets to his tasty creations.

"I bake all the time for my friends, family and friends of friends," he said.

"Baking is usually a treat, so if someone is down it brightens up their day.

"I love doing breads and I'm also really into patisserie, French croissants and pastries."

The talented young man is loving every moment of his Great Irish Bake Off experience and wishes his architect father Malcolm, who sadly died last year, had been around to see his success. "He was around to see me getting into baking," Stephen said. "I know he would have loved to see me on the show. Mum is telling everyone she can about it."

Every week around 50 of Stephen's friends and family meet at CIYMS on the Circular Road to watch the latest GIBO episode.

"I make the stuff that's on the show each week so if bakers want to come down they are more than welcome to join us. This week's episode is bread."

Stephen’s Top 5 baking tips exclusively for Belfast Telegraph readers

1 If you are baking something with a fruit flavour a few drops of lemon juice helps to enhance this.

2 When kneading bread use a neutral flavoured oil rather than flour to stop the dough sticking to the surface. This will stop you from adding more flour to the dough than needed.

3 Blind baking your pastry for tarts and pies helps prevent the dreaded soggy bottom. But if you apply an egg wash after removing the baking beans the case becomes practically moisture proof. Bye bye soggy bottoms!

4 If your recipe only calls for egg whites don't throw away the yolks. They can be used to make curds, enrich shortbread and make French butter cream.

5 To keep your cakes moist you can brush them with a simple syrup. Place 50g of both water and sugar into a pan along with some lemon juice  for fruit flavoured cakes or 1/2 tsp of coca powder for chocolate cakes, bring to the boil then remove from the heat to cool before brushing over your cake.

*Great Irish Bake Off airs every Thursday at 9pm on TV3.

To follow Stephen on Twitter check out @steviechis and for the latest recipes from each episode visit

Belfast Telegraph


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