Leeds’s own Great British Bake Off finalist is a rising star

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Great British Bake Off finalist Nadiya Jamir Hussain has revealed her mission to prove herself as a Briton and a baker.

“Originally, I was a bit nervous that people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake. But I hope that week by week people have realised that I can bake - and just because I’m not a stereotypical British person, it doesn’t mean that I am not into bunting, cake and tea,” said Nadia.

“I’m just as British as anyone else, and I hope I have proved that. The feedback I have had reveals how accepting people are of different cultures and religions. Now people know who I am, I can see how tolerant and accepting British society is.”

The stay-at-home mum, who is studying for an Open University degree, lives in Leeds.

She told the Radio Times: “My family is from Bangladesh, and we don’t really have desserts in our culture. If there are sweet things to eat, they are eaten as a snack beforehand. But once I started to make desserts, crumbles and pies at home, it caught on. Now my family always expect one!”

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The 30-year-old’s facial expressions have been a highlight of this series among Bake Off fans, inspiring a tumblr called “The Many Faces of Nadiya Appreciation Blog”, which aims to celebrate the contestant’s “many and varied facial expressions”.

“I think I have the sort of face that always looks really nervous,” she said.

Fellow finalist Tamal Ray, 28, has become known as a Bake Off heartthrob - and revealed he is currently single. “I wouldn’t have a girlfriend, I would have a boyfriend,” he added.

The medic, who is a senior house officer in intensive care at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, admitted he “became quite superstitious” during filming: “Firstly, I had to have sushi on the way to each episode. There were two weeks when I did really badly, and those were the weeks when I didn’t have sushi, so from then on it was a must. I wore my lucky socks, too,” he explained.

“I’m a Hindu, and I prayed quite a lot. I usually pray for other people, I don’t normally ask for things, but that changed. I suppose there is a God of Food, but I didn’t pray to him. I just prayed in a general sense and sent it out there.”

Ian Cumming, 42, had a winning streak at the beginning of the series, being awarded “star baker” three times in a row.

He said he was “genuinely surprised” to win week two. “I didn’t feel good about my chances at all. Then when I got star baker three times, everyone thought I was super confident, but I’m not. I’m surprised at my progress, to be honest.”

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