Great British Bake Off 2015 - Meet the bakers

Great British Bake Off 2016: meet the contestants

by Great British Chefs 16 August 2016

With the baking bonanza returning to our screens in August, we take a closer look at the twelve hopefuls looking to take home the Bake Off crown and cement themselves as a cake-making legend.

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Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Whether you watch it for the camaraderie between competitors, Mel and Sue’s innuendo-laden commentary, Paul’s steely gaze or just like looking at massive, over the top cakes, it’s safe to say that The Great British Bake Off has gained national treasure status. The seventh series begins on 24 August, filling the following ten weeks with the highs and lows of baking for the likes of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. Last year’s winner Nadiya Hussain took home the trophy in front of 15 million viewers, and the seventh series is set to be even bigger.

Mary herself has said fewer people applied this year as the standard was so high in 2015 – but that just means the twelve contestants will be creating bakes that are better than ever. With the youngest contender just twenty years old and the oldest sixty-seven, the show yet again offers a complete slice of British society and proves that if anything can bring everyone together, it's cake.

Here’s this year’s line-up:

Andrew, 25, Derby: born in Northern Ireland, Andrew now lives in Derby and works for Rolls-Royce designing jet engines – which inspires some of his bakes in the series. Many of the recipes he works with have been passed down through the generations of his family.
Kate, 37, Norfolk: as a farmer’s daughter, Kate has been foraging for ingredients in the Norfolk countryside since childhood. Now a nurse, she excels in sugarcraft and enjoys cooking for others.
Rav, 28, Kent: Erith-based Rav works with City University London students and volunteers for charity. In his spare time, he takes inspiration from international cuisines to create vegan bakes, combining flavours not usually seen together.
Candice, 31, Bedfordshire: growing up in pubs owned by her parents, Candice is now a PE teacher at a secondary school but also works in pastoral care. She was inspired to bake by her grandmother.
Jane, 61, Beckenham: Jane’s grandfather owned a bakery, and she hopes to continue the family tradition of cake and bread-making in the tent this series. Working as a garden designer, she often gets up extra early to put bread in the oven, and has a good knowledge of classical bakes.
Lee, 67, Bolton: beginning life as a builder, Lee became a pastor thirty years ago and is the oldest contestant in this year’s series.
Tom, 26, east London: originally from Rochdale, Tom now lives with his wife Kate in London. As well as baking, he makes his own cheese and charcuterie, and lost 30kg of weight over the past few years.
Selasi, 30, London: after moving to the UK from Ghana around fifteen years ago to work in finance, Selasi has been impressing colleagues with his sweet creations at the office.
Benjamina, 23, south London: straight-A student Benjamina works as a teaching assistant in London and is particularly critical of her own work. She regularly bakes for her twin sister and brother at home.
Michael, 20, London: a politics and economics student from Durham, Michael’s Cypriot background shines through with the Greek pastries he creates, which he learnt from his grandmother. A fan of unusual flavour combinations, his cakes are bound to venture beyond the norm.
Val, 66, Yeovil: primary school teacher Val only works two days a week, giving her plenty of time to perfect her jam-making and cakes. She’s a big fan of the classics, and knows the recipes for most traditional British bakes off by heart.
Louise, 46, Cardiff: hairdresser Louise is a big fan of elaborate cake designs, and got the baking bug after getting involved in charity bake sales at work. Originally from Methyr Tydfil, she’s an avid mountain hiker.

Be sure to follow our weekly round-up of every week’s highs and lows – we've got series four contestant Howard Middleton ready to cast his expert eye over every ingredient and technique, lending an alternative commentary to the goings-on in the tent. We'll also be giving you plenty of tips, tricks, recipes and guides on how to become a star baker at home – watch this space!

Great British Bake Off returns to BBC One on Wednesday 24 August at 8pm. Photography credit: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon