British-Bangladeshi Nadiya Hussain wins Great British Bake Off
8 October 2015, Nirapad News: Mother of three from Leeds produces flawless final round to win baking contest in front of a predicted television audience of more than 14 million viewers.
“In the beginning, there were 12,” said presenter Mel Giedroyc at the opening of the Great British Bake Off final. “Now there are three…” In the end, of course, there could be only one winner, and it was the contestant that much of the nation and even the prime minister had been rooting for.
Nadiya Jamir Hussain, a mother of three from Leeds, became the sixth and arguably most popular winner of the baking-contest-turned-cultural-juggernaut, after an almost flawless final round in which she delivered “lovely” iced buns, near-perfect raspberry millefeuilles and a triple-tiered lemon drizzle wedding cake, which judge Mary Berry described as “stunning … sheer perfection”.
A television audience predicted to top 14 million viewers – which would make it the biggest of the year for any broadcast – watched the 30-year-old triumph over fellow finalists Ian Cumming and Tamal Ray.
And one of the first people to congratulate Hussain was the chancellor, George Osborne, who tweeted his delight.
Fittingly for a woman hailed as an icon of modern Britain, her final trophy-winning bake married both her Bangladeshi heritage and a love of classic British baking first learned in school cookery classes.
Having not had a wedding cake at her own marriage – it is not a tradition in Bangladesh – Hussain’s final bake was decorated with jewels from her own wedding day and a sari in red, white and blue: “So my husband and I did get our wedding cake after all.”
The 30-year-old has spoken previously of her worries “that perhaps people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake”, but she has won enormous support among viewers, while David Cameron took time from preparing for his party conference speech to tell reporters that he was rooting for Hussain in the final because she was “so cool under pressure”.
Her victory “demonstrated the inclusivity of British Muslims in society”, according to Dr Omer El-Hamdoon, president of the Muslim Association of Britain.
“This demonstrates how Muslims have made great efforts in integrating into society; and how they are achieving that in many various aspects,” he said.
“I went into the tent as the smallest baker at 4ft 11in, but I walked out feeling a giant,” Hussain said after the result. “I can be quite self-deprecating, but I feel I have tested my abilities and come out a much stronger, confident person on the other side.”
Berry said she was “very proud” of Hussain, who overcame an early lack of confidence and repeated failures in technical challenges to deliver consistently excellent bakes. “She came into the tent for the final and was nervous, but she had the look that said she can do it. The finished result had to wow us and Nadiya’s showstopper was stunning. Sheer perfection, and I have enjoyed every minute.”
Her fellow judge, Paul Hollywood, said the baker had brought something special to the BBC programme, now in its sixth series. “Her ideas, flair, her emotions and her passion were all in her bakes, she just nailed the whole final. That was the best tasting final we have ever had.”
The 30-year-old had been the bookmakers’ favourite to lift the title, but in the end the contest was not even close, after her fellow finalists, visibly cracking under the pressure, made careless but catastrophic errors.
Cumming, the early favourite after winning for three weeks in a row, forgot to add caster sugar to his buns and miscalculated the mix for his final bake – a five-tiered carrot cake decorated with “a waterfall design of a giant carrot”.
Ray, meanwhile, watched one batch of crème pâtissière fail to set while he accidentally froze the ganache topping for his showstopper – a sticky toffee pudding cake inspired by “an abandoned Chinese fishing village”.
The winning baker said she had been calm approaching the final, but had become very emotional after winning the technical challenge for her millefeuilles, and again as the result was revealed.
“As they announced the winner, all I remember is not wanting to look at anyone, so I looked down at my shoes, my heart was racing in my chest and I could hear it thudding in my head. I remember seeing that my shoes were covered in flour, and when I heard my name, I covered my face with my hands as I didn’t want anyone to watch me cry.”
When she returned home with the trophy after winning the title, which was pre-recorded in June, her sister threw a huge family party, she said.
“My dad tried to swipe the trophy, but he wasn’t getting it. After that I wrapped it in many layers of brown paper, put it in a suitcase and hid it under the bed in case anybody saw it. Now it can come out and take pride of place in our living room.”
Previous winners of the programme have gone on to forge careers in baking, releasing recipe books, opening cookery schools or becoming spokespeople for kitchenware brands.
Asked her own plans, Hussain said: “Family life will carry on as normal, being a mum to three small children under 10 is pretty time-consuming, but I wanted to have my own adventure.
“With a very supportive husband and a belief in my own ability, I can now carry on having my adventure. I am really looking forward to see what will happen.”