By: Lauren Potts
Source: BBC News
Millions of people tuned in to see who would be crowned this year’s winner of the Great British Bake Off, but who is the person behind the apron? BBC News looks at the winner’s journey from home cook to baking star.
She was the bookies’ favourite to win and Nadiya Hussain didn’t let the punters down.
The 30-year-old mum-of-three from Leeds – now famed as much for her facial expressions as her delicious bakes – entered the tent for the last time on Wednesday with a “look” she could do it, according to the show’s co-judge Mary Berry.
And sure enough, the amateur baker set aside her nerves to nail the final, producing a showstopper so worthy of its name it was described as “sheer perfection” by the judges.
With odds of 2/5 on her walking off with the Bake Off crown, it was hardly a shock result.
She has, after all, been the show’s “star baker” three times – earning herself the hallowed “Hollywood handshake” for her signature bake in last week’s semi-final.
Even Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Tuesday he was rooting for her.
But Nadiya’s journey from stay-at-home mum to queen of the chocolate tart didn’t begin with creating cheesecakes featuring cans of levitating pop.
It started with an understandable curiosity about the lack of pudding in her life.
“When we were younger we wouldn’t have a dessert after a meal, it wasn’t in our culture,” she said of her Bangladeshi origins.
“As we grew up we would buy apple pies and Swiss rolls, and by the time I was 15, I was making puddings for my family.
“Although it took a long while to convert them, they now love my desserts.”
Nadiya applied to take part in the programme after encouragement from her family, despite a self-confessed lack of confidence in her own abilities.
Over the past 10 weeks, viewers have watched the amateur baker turn into a kitchen star who has consistently impressed Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry with her attention to detail and mastery of flavours.
Yet the Luton-born mum still shook her head seemingly in disbelief each time she was praised for her work.
“I can be quite self-deprecating,” she said. “But I feel I have tested my abilities and come out a much stronger, confident person the other side.
“I went into the tent the smallest baker at 4ft 11ins, but I walked out feeling a giant.”
Though her confidence undoubtedly grew over the weeks, there were a number of memorable wobbles that threatened to throw her off course.
Nadiya crumbled during one notable showstopper round, tearfully presenting Paul and Mary with plates of “deconstructed” vol-au-vents whose pastry cases resembled what was unflatteringly described as “buttery cellulite”.
A souffle-related meltdown during the semi-final saw the normally quiet baker raise her voice and vow never to bake the recipe again. It was a declaration not without substance after the dish placed her last in the technical challenge and reduced her to tears.
On her many highs and lows, she described the show as an “emotional experience”.
“It is, after all, just cake and biscuits but when you have put so much effort into it, you do feel either very sad or very elated,” Nadiya said.
“My face is a giveaway as I can’t hide my facial expressions, and I did say to myself that if I am going to cry I won’t go and hide.”
The Bake Off winner has taken the attention in good spirits but hopes her mannerisms won’t be her lasting legacy.
“I had no idea that this would become a talking point on social media. It’s all a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously. After all, it’s just my face isn’t it?
“[But] I really hope I have not become known more for my facial expressions or my eyebrows than my baking,” she said.
After months of peering woefully at the inside of an oven and practising her recipes into the wee hours, what’s next for the unexpected TV star?
“Family life will carry on as normal, being a mum to three small children under 10 is pretty time-consuming,” she said.
“But I wanted to have my own adventure, which with a very supportive husband and a belief in my own ability, I can now carry on having.
“I am really looking forward to see what will happen.”