Hannah Cockroft on The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer - signature dish and baking disasters revealed
Yorkshire's own Hannah Cockroft is representing God's own county on The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer.
The Paralympic gold medalist from Halifax is competing to see who will be crowned Star Baker and be awarded the much sought-after Star Baker apron. She is one of several celebrities taking part in the fundraising edition of the much-loved Channel 4 show, and is up against Jon Richardson, US actor John Lithgow and Russell Brand, Jeremy Paxman, Michelle Keegan, Russell Tovey, Greg Wise, Caroline Flack and Georgia Toffolo.
The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4. Enjoy this interview:
So, Hannah: can you bake?
"Judging by earlier, not really, I can bake better than I can cook but I wouldn’t choose to bake"
Who taught you to bake when you were growing up?
"My grandma and my mum, my grandma quite liked baking, so I got involved in little things like when they were making a birthday cake. I was always going in and basically licking the bowl. It wasn’t really helping to bake, that was the bit I was missing, I was just wanting to eat the ingredients, not to learn how to bake! I wouldn’t say I was really taught; I just guess my way through it."
What is your personal signature dish?
"A Victoria sponge, the simplest of simple, nothing extravagant going on here."
Who do you reckon is the biggest competition in the tent?
"I thought it would be John Richardson but now I think it would be the other John, John Lithgow. But Russell can’t be ruled out, he’s really good as well. The technical challenge is going to be especially tough. Whoever can follow instructions will do well – which is why I feel it’s not going to be me!"
Who do you want to impress the most, Paul or Prue?
"I want to impress Paul I think, I really want to impress them both, but I would take Paul’s criticism more to heart. Not for any reason other than that I think it would scare me a little bit!"
Have you had any baking disasters before?
"Yes, probably quite a few, I said that a Victoria sponge was my forte, but I’m rubbish at that too. I made a birthday cake for my mum - a Victoria sponge - but actually it sank in the middle. So I tried to save it by covering the whole cake in chocolate, but then it just looked a bit rubbish. So my brother and I tried to cover the sides in chocolate too, which didn’t work out well. We did that because the cream was coming out of the middle, so that was to hold the cream in. We tried to save it! We put her age in twirls on the top and it looked just like a Nazi swastika, so it just ended up looking shocking, so we stuck a ballerina candle right in the middle of it and presented it to her, she ate a slice and said it tasted delicious. But it didn’t, she lied! So maybe the Victoria sponge is not my forte…I don’t have a forte!"
What’s your strength in baking?
"Can I say eating? That is my only strength with baking I feel, especially after trying for this show, it’s still eating I’m best at."
Are you more likely to get a Hollywood handshake, or a soggy bottom?
"A soggy bottom definitely, that Hollywood handshake is not coming my way I know it. I wish it would, but no!"
Why are you supporting Stand Up To Cancer?
"It’s a privilege to be asked. I don’t think anybody doesn’t know someone affected by cancer, that shows how widespread it is. The Stand Up To Cancer campaign highlights how it affects 1 in every 2 people, and if you can help in any way possible then that’s what you should do. A cure needs to be found and if this helps find that cure, we can save a lot of families the heartbreak and devastation - and that makes this all totally worth it. What we’re putting ourselves through in the tent is absolutely nothing compared to what people are putting themselves through, either by having a friend or anyone you know or themselves affected by cancer."
Are you competitive? Do you want to be the star baker?
"I’m very competitive but I know I’m not going to be a star baker. I really thought my brownies in practise had gone so well, but when you’re here it’s completely different to making it in your own kitchen. So I’d say I’m very competitive, but I do think at some point I just have to put my hands up and say: ‘I’m an athlete, not a baker’!"
How do you feel about the technical? Are you good under pressure?
"I am terrified. This has been the one I’m most worried about, I don’t like the unknown, I like to be prepared, I can safely say if I haven’t practised it before I’ve come here, then I definitely have no idea how to make it. I’m just not looking forward to this at all - like at all!"
Are you a traditionalist or do you like experimenting with food?
"No, I’m definitely a traditionalist, I just want it to be what it should be. I think I’m going to have to claim I’m an experimentalist though, because my baking won’t look like what it’s supposed to be! Yes, my brownies are all identical, I promise, but that’s just because you’re looking at them from an odd angle!! If I was served a cake, I’d want it to look amazing and just simple I think."
If you were any baked good what would you be?
"Is a Yorkshire pudding a baked good, as it goes in the oven? I’d be a Yorkshire pudding, Yorkshire girl, I eat a lot of Yorkshire pudding!"
Final question, why should the Nation get involved and fundraise for Stand Up?
"Baking is fun - do it with friends, get the fund-raising pack, everyone loves a piece of cake, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a piece of cake. If you can go and have fun and raise money at the same time, then what reason have you got to not get involved?"