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How this year’s Great British Bake Off contestants are real showstoppers

An illusion cake which resembles a McDonald’s take-away. 

Another which looks like a full English breakfast. A pale pink pavlova meringue wreath smothered in edible flowers and spiked with shards of honeycomb.

And — most staggering of all — a three-dimensional church made out of nothing more than simple white piped icing.

The 13 bakers, most of them young, appear to be extremely accomplished, not to say borderline professional

The 13 bakers, most of them young, appear to be extremely accomplished, not to say borderline professional

These are just some of the culinary feats achieved by this year’s Great British Bake Off contestants — and that’s before they have even stepped into the famous white tent.

The 13 bakers, most of them young, appear to be extremely accomplished, not to say borderline professional. 

Several have Instagram accounts which are dedicated to their culinary skills. A decent handful are so skilled that they have already been enlisted to bake wedding cakes for friends.

Forget the soggy doughnuts and collapsing gingerbread houses of yesteryear (although, of course, on-the-day nerves can usually be counted on to produce a few disasters). This year’s hopefuls seem to be the best crop ever to be asked to place a bake on the gingham altar.

As GBBO judge Prue Leith said, the production team focus solely on the quality of the contenders: ‘What’s so interesting is when they’re choosing the bakers, the main thing they want to know is that they’re getting the 13 best bakers in the country. 

This year’s hopefuls seem to be the best crop ever to be asked to place a bake on the gingham altar

This year’s hopefuls seem to be the best crop ever to be asked to place a bake on the gingham altar

‘They’re not set up to find somebody who’s the right ethnic mix, or the right height, or the right age or anything.’

But what, you wonder, can any of these super-bakers have to learn from Prue and fellow judge Paul Hollywood? According to Hollywood, they still have plenty of tips to take from him. 

He said: ‘There were times when there was a bit of a disaster on one of the technicals. I walked in and saw it and sort of had a go at them, which caused a little bit of emotion.

‘Yes, I made them cry. They’re more pack animals now. Upset one and they all get upset.’

Not to mention their devoted Instagram followers.

Here, Alison Boshoff reports on how the GBBO class of 2019 have perfected their showstoppers before they’ve even appeared on screen…

Great British Bake Off starts Tuesday, August 27, at 8pm on Channel 4.

Youngest but what a towering talent

Henry Bird may be the youngest contestant, at 20, but his Instagram account seems to demonstrate he is a serious contender for the crown

He made the towering church using only icing

Henry Bird may be the youngest contestant, at 20, but his Instagram account seems to demonstrate he is a serious contender for the crown. He made the towering church using only icing

Henry Bird may be the youngest contestant, at 20, but his Instagram account seems to demonstrate he is a serious contender for the crown.

His interest was sparked at 14 when he saw season two of GBBO being filmed near his school and had a snap taken with presenter Sue Perkins. 

Henry, who is studying English at Durham, made this towering church using only icing as well as a gloriously coloured mirror glaze cake.

His interest was sparked at 14 when he saw season two of GBBO being filmed near his school and had a snap taken with presenter Sue Perkins

His interest was sparked at 14 when he saw season two of GBBO being filmed near his school and had a snap taken with presenter Sue Perkins

 Mine’s a fondant with fries

Support worker Dan Chambers has been trying to get on the show for years and his Instagram account ‘Dancbakes’ shows how seriously he takes it. 

Among his jaw-dropping creations is a McDonald’s meal with fondant-covered sponge standing in for the burger and bun. 

Among his jaw-dropping creations is a McDonald’s meal, left, with fondant-covered sponge standing in for the burger and bun

Support worker Dan Chambers has been trying to get on the show for years and his Instagram account ‘Dancbakes’ shows how seriously he takes it

Support worker Dan Chambers has been trying to get on the show for years and his Instagram account ‘Dancbakes’ shows how seriously he takes it. Among his jaw-dropping creations is a McDonald’s meal, left, with fondant-covered sponge standing in for the burger and bun

When Dan, 32, got married in 2018, he made his own delicate white three-tier wedding cake. 

His father was an army chef who taught him how to bake bread while his mother would make Victoria sponges with him as a child.

His first ‘big bake’ was made at 21, to impress a girlfriend.

Is a happy ending in store?    

Aspiring novelist Priya O’Shea, 34, started baking at an after-school club at primary school and says she went ‘baking bonkers’ after being given a mixer as a wedding gift

The mum-of-two’s Instagram shows painstakingly iced elephant biscuits and a persimmon tart

Aspiring novelist Priya O’Shea, 34, started baking at an after-school club at primary school and says she went ‘baking bonkers’ after being given a mixer as a wedding gift. The mum-of-two’s Instagram shows painstakingly iced elephant biscuits and a persimmon tart

Aspiring novelist Priya O’Shea, 34, started baking at an after-school club at primary school and says she went ‘baking bonkers’ after being given a mixer as a wedding gift. 

The mum-of-two’s Instagram shows painstakingly iced elephant biscuits and a persimmon tart. 

She lives in Leicester with husband Sean, a recruitment specialist. 

Out of Africa…and into the tent

He also posts pictures of his pottery creations as he is a keen ceramicist

Health adviser David Atherton, 36, shows off his bakes on the Instagram account ‘nomadbakerdavid'

Health adviser David Atherton, 36, shows off his bakes on the Instagram account ‘nomadbakerdavid’. He also posts pictures of his pottery creations as he is a keen ceramicist

Health adviser David Atherton, 36, shows off his bakes on the Instagram account ‘nomadbakerdavid’. 

He also posts pictures of his pottery creations as he is a keen ceramicist. 

His white chocolate and raspberry tarts from an Ottolenghi recipe look particularly appetising. 

Originally from Yorkshire, David spent some of his life in Malawi, East Africa. 

Queen of illusion 

Michelle Evans-Fecci has posted dozens of pictures of pies, biscuits and cakes on her Instagram account ‘bakesbymichelle'

She is a print shop administrator and married with a teenage son

Michelle Evans-Fecci has posted dozens of pictures of pies, biscuits and cakes on her Instagram account ‘bakesbymichelle’. She is a print shop administrator and married with a teenage son

Michelle Evans-Fecci has posted dozens of pictures of pies, biscuits and cakes on her Instagram account ‘bakesbymichelle’.

They include a ‘full English breakfast’ illusion cake with black pudding, mushroom and beans made of sugar fondant, and a fruit and honeycomb pavlova.

Michelle, 35, from Tenby, West Wales, a print shop administrator, is married with a teenage son.

Her creations include a ‘full English breakfast’ illusion cake with black pudding, mushroom and beans made of sugar fondant, and a fruit and honeycomb pavlova

Her creations include a ‘full English breakfast’ illusion cake with black pudding, mushroom and beans made of sugar fondant, and a fruit and honeycomb pavlova

Phil’s the macaroon master

Keen Instagram baker Phil Thorne is known as ‘Philsbury bakes’ and has shown a sure touch on creations including a lavishly iced heart-shaped cake and a banana/toffee cheesecake topped with butterscotch, chocolate crunch and caramelised bananas

He’s also expert at macaroons and bakes his own bread several times a week

Keen Instagram baker Phil Thorne is known as ‘Philsbury bakes’ and has shown a sure touch on creations including a lavishly iced heart-shaped cake and a banana/toffee cheesecake topped with butterscotch, chocolate crunch and caramelised bananas. He’s also expert at macaroons and bakes his own bread several times a week

Keen Instagram baker Phil Thorne is known as ‘Philsbury bakes’ and has shown a sure touch on creations including a lavishly iced heart-shaped cake and a banana/toffee cheesecake topped with butterscotch, chocolate crunch and caramelised bananas. 

Phil, a 56-year-old heavy goods driver from Essex, is a dab hand at making birthday cakes for family members. 

He’s also expert at macaroons and bakes his own bread several times a week. 

Alice is a class act

Geography teacher Alice Fevronia, 28, from East London, is the bookie’s early favourite to win at 4/1

Her Instagram pictures include a Christmas cake with snowflake-iced biscuits, above, a cherry and an intricate Easter chocolate Bundt cake with fondant flowers

Geography teacher Alice Fevronia, 28, from East London, is the bookie’s early favourite to win at 4/1. Her Instagram pictures include a Christmas cake with snowflake-iced biscuits, above, a cherry and an intricate Easter chocolate Bundt cake with fondant flowers

Geography teacher Alice Fevronia, 28, from East London, is the bookie’s early favourite to win at 4/1. 

She started to bake as a teenager when an operation for scoliosis prevented her from taking part in sports.

Her Instagram pictures include a Christmas cake with snowflake-iced biscuits, above, a cherry and an intricate Easter chocolate Bundt cake with fondant flowers.

A flamin’ good flamingo 

A pink flamingo cake and a birthday cake featuring a snow leopard and tiger are among the Instagram baking highlights from Halifax-born Amelia Le Bruin

At 24, the London-based sportswear designer is the third youngest of this year's contestants

A pink flamingo cake and a birthday cake featuring a snow leopard and tiger are among the Instagram baking highlights from Halifax-born Amelia Le Bruin. At 24, the London-based sportswear designer is the third youngest of this year’s contestants

A pink flamingo cake and a birthday cake featuring a snow leopard and tiger are among the Instagram baking highlights from Halifax-born Amelia Le Bruin. 

At 24, the London-based sportswear designer is the third youngest of this year’s contestants. 

But Amelia started early – she’s been baking since she was five. 

Creations are pure theatre

Michael Chakraverty, 26, is an accomplished baker who learned the basics at his mother’s knee

He says of the other bakers: ‘We made a family the first time we met'

Michael Chakraverty, 26, is an accomplished baker who learned the basics at his mother’s knee. He says of the other bakers: ‘We made a family the first time we met’

Michael Chakraverty, 26, is an accomplished baker who learned the basics at his mother’s knee.

The theatre manager’s favourite bakes are cakes and pastries and his Instagram account shows spectacular examples of both, including a rainbow vegetable puff pastry pie and a black forest birthday cake, above.

He says of the other bakers: ‘We made a family the first time we met.’

Fancy a Victoria sand-witch? 

Gothic lover Helena Garcia, 40, calls herself a ‘lifelong crafting witch’

She posts pictures of gothic craft projects including bakes on Instagram and has written a witch-themed crafting book

Gothic lover Helena Garcia, 40, calls herself a ‘lifelong crafting witch’. She posts pictures of gothic craft projects including bakes on Instagram and has written a witch-themed crafting book

Gothic lover Helena Garcia, 40, calls herself a ‘lifelong crafting witch’.

She posts pictures of gothic craft projects including bakes on Instagram and has written a witch-themed crafting book.

Helena lives in Leeds with her husband and young daughter. 

One of her cakes is a Swedish trifle, consisting of Victoria sponge, jam and fresh cream — with a pair of witches’ purple legs sticking out the top.

She said: ‘When I learned I had got in I had a bit of a confidence crisis thinking: “Can I possibly be good enough?”’             

Daily Mail UK

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