THE SECRET is well and truly out. Yorkshire’s gastronomic credentials are mightier than anywhere else in the country, and not least when it comes to baking.
That boast was given even greater credence last night as Leeds’ Nadiya Jamir Hussain became the third White Rose winner of the Great British Bake Off.
It was a second successive victory for a Yorkshire baker in the final of the hugely popular BBC television show - and the third in the programme’s six seasons.
Nadiya followed in the winning footsteps of last year’s victor, Hull-born grandmother and retired GP surgery manager Nancy Birtwhistle and Series One champion, former Yorkshire Bank debt collector Edd Kimber, of Bradford.
Stay-at-home mum Nadiya said winning last night made her feel like “a giant” and that she walked out of the Bake Off tent “a much stronger, confident person” after beating Ian Cumming and Tamal Ray in the final.
“I went into the tent as the smallest baker at 4ft 11ins in but I walked out feeling a giant,” she said.
The 30-year-old baker, who has become a social media sensation for her expressive face, added: “I really hope that I have not become known more for my facial expressions or my eyebrows than my baking. I had no idea that this would become a talking point on social media. It’s all a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously, and I think it reflected what was going on in the tent.”
Nadiya impressed in the signature bake with her iced buns, half of them cardamom and almond, and half nutmeg and sour cherry.
Mary Berry called them “lovely”, while Paul Hollywood added: “Both of those tick the boxes.”
A batch of raspberry millefeuille also earned her first place in the technical challenge.
In the showstopper challenge, she created a My Big Fat British Wedding cake to make up for not having one at her marriage in Bangladesh.
Nadiya said: “The showstopper was a celebration cake - and as I never had my own wedding cake I wanted a proper iced wedding cake. I bought a sari that was red, white and blue, in the colours of the Union Jack, and I decorated my stand with that.
“My husband Abdal’s favourite cake is lemon drizzle, so I decided to make that. At the very end of the filming I took the cake out to my family’s table and we all had a slice. So my husband and I did get our wedding cake after all.”
She said she had not imagined getting to the final in her “wildest dreams” and that on the day of the final it was really still and quiet inside the tent.
“There was a real sense of calm and concentration, it wasn’t just the bakers’ last day - it was everyone’s last day,” she said.
“We all had a slight sense of sadness that it was all coming to a close.
“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.”
Nadiya hid the trophy so no-one would know she had won.
“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,” she said.
“Now it can come out and take pride of place in our living room.”
Bake Off judge Mary Berry said: “I am really proud of Nadiya, not so confident to start with, but over the weeks she has grown in confidence.
“She came into the tent for the final, and was nervous - but she had the look that said she can do it.”
Paul Hollywood added: “All three bakers pushed the boat out for the final, but it’s all about keeping calm and being consistent throughout.
“Nadiya has brought something special to the Bake Off. 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.”
Ian struggled with his spiced buns with cardamom, cinnamon, and apple and cranberry jam, forgetting to add his sugar, although his elderflower and lemon buns went down well.
He came second in the technical challenge, before creating a five-part curry carrot cake as his showstopper.
Tamal struggled with timing on his cinnamon and apple, and toffee and marmalade iced buns.
After coming last in the technical, his showstopper was a sticky toffee pudding cake with date and toffee sauce.
Adventure set to continue
Previous Bake Off winners have often been able to create careers out of their baking victory, writing cookbooks and cookery columns and making TV appearances.
Looking to the future after winning this year’s series, Nadiya 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.”