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Bake Off champion Frances reflects on an amazing year

Frances Quinn

Frances Quinn

Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn’s energy has been described by her friends as a Duracell bunny, but with a new book to plan, cakes to bake for illustrator Quentin Blake and workshops at the BBC Good Food Show, the Harborough woman says her post-TV life has seen her more akin to a ‘Duracell bunny in headlights’.

Since being crowned the Great British Bake Off champion in October, life for Frances has been hectic.

The 31-year-old, who is now on “baking leave” from her role as a children’s clothing designer for town firm Joules Clothing, said: ““I often jokingly get told I’m a bit of a Duracell bunny because I’m go, go, go and I don’t stop and post-Bake Off it’s been a bit like a Duracell bunny in the headlights.

“That night when I won it, my phone was literally like having some sort of disco jive fit in the corner.

“I had never known anything quite like it. It was mad on Twitter before. Initially I had about 14,000 followers, but by the end at the final it had shot up to 35,000 I think and I had 900 emails in my inbox.”

Frances has met a number of celebrities since her win and was there at the filming of Jools Holland’s Hootenanny show which aired on New Year’s Eve – she brought along some baked goodies in the shape of musical notes.

She said: “With the Jools Holland thing, it’s almost like I got two New Year’s, like the way that I got to relive the final twice, because obviously back in June when it had been the end of a momentous ten weeks, a crazy day, and then my name was announced as the winner and then the insane euphoria was there, but then going back into work the next day totally poker face, not able to tell anyone.

“Two months’ later before anyone even knows I’m on the show, so when it was October and it was the final and everyone else was watching it, I sort of relived it all again, so it’s like I’m getting two New Years, the Jools Holland show was filmed in November, but then it’s actually January when it gets shown.”

The judges, in particular Paul Hollywood, at times criticised Frances for putting style over substance.

Frances said: “I did the Good Food Show in London and then did five days in Birmingham and it was like a scone marathon.

“My cauliflower cheese scones, I did demos of them, two demos a day in between interviews and appearances, so I had cauliflower cheese scones coming out of my ears by the end of it.

“Paul came up on the stage during one of the demos. He just came on and I was in the midst of doing all my demos and he was sitting back watching and I was like ‘oh my Lord’, but it was quite nice as now that it’s all over he said ‘you’re one of us now Fran’.”

Since the Bake Off final, Frances has done recipes for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the Metro and was one of the 100 chefs taking part in the charity Mince Pie Project.

Frances said: “I listen to a lot of music and radio when I’m in the kitchen and [especially] Jo Whiley, I always listen to her lots because she’s always on at the same time that I’m baking, so I just tweeted out that I was stirring up some mincemeat for my santamosas listening to the show and she was interviewing Paul Rudd the actor and the next thing she tweeted me to say she loved the fact that I listen to the show and then she even did a shout out to me that night on the show.”

Frances was also invited to do a bake to mark the millionth visitor to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield.

She made millionaire shortbreads and created sculptures out of shortbread and toffee to look like Barbara Hepworth sculptures.

On her way to the gallery on the train, Frances found herself, as is now normal, the target for well-wishers and those seeking ‘selfie’ photos.

Frances made a cake for Quentin Blake that consisted of a giant chocolate fancy which was covered in chocolate ganache. The illustrator got in touch after reading in The Telegraph interview that he was an inspiration to her.

Although Frances wishes to use her win as a platform for more than just a cookery book, before a proposal is even written, the prospect is creating a buzz in the publishing world where it is set to provoke a bidding war.

Frances said: “I think the idea is that I do want to do a different book. People keep saying ‘is it going to be a coffee table book’, and honestly I want it to look really imaginative and just something you would want to give someone as a gift to absorb and look through but I want it to be a book that you could take into the kitchen and work from.

“I don’t want it to be purely something that looks pretty on a shelf, I want it to have icing sugar and eggs splattered on the pages so it looks like it’s actually being used.”

 

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