Bake Off's Briony goes back to school

November 27 2018
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Great British Bake Off contestant, Briony May, who made it to the final four in this year’s show, took a step back in time in November when she revisited her primary school in Bristol to judge a baking contest.

The Bake Off star, now well-recognised locally for her imaginative cookery, lives in Horfield with her husband, daughter and pet dog. Briony grew up in Westbury-on-Trym, attended Elmlea Infants and Junior School and later, Colston's Girls’ School. 

 A whole heap of effort and more than a little dusting of icing sugar went into the 150 plus bakes from the children, inspired to take up the Great Elmlea Bake Off challenge. The annual school fundraising event at Elmlea Junior School saw entries from pupils in Years 3 - 6, demonstrating fabulous icing skills, sculptural shapes such as swans and cappuccinos in cups, and even a burger and chips made out of cake! 

 The bakes were judged by Briony, Lisa Cadd ‘The Fuss Free Foodie’ who’s been teaching basic cooking skills to pupils this year, Head Teacher, Mrs Lorraine Wright and Deputy Head, Mrs Jo Sloper. 

Briony says: “It’s so lovely to see children baking, getting involved and trying something creative. I think Bake Off’s been a really positive influence on younger people, getting them into the kitchen and trying things out. The quality and standard today was really impressive.”  

After the winners were presented with awards, the children asked Briony questions about her experience of being on the show. She revealed that her most challenging bake was the chandelier as there were so many ribbons and so little time. And then, disaster struck when one of the cameramen knocked some of the biscuits off onto the floor and they broke! However, It was all fine in the end.

 Her favourite bake was the Alice in Wonderland pie she made in Pastry Week: “All the practices at home went really bad but it came together on the day and I got Star Baker which I’m very proud of,” she says. 

Her nan, now aged 93, taught baking to young people and was always a great inspiration to her. Briony used to bake when she was young with her mum and nan but only really started baking properly about five years ago, making birthday cakes for friends children.  

She says: “I didn’t tell anyone when I applied. I sent off the application after watching Bake Off last year. It’s been the most incredible experience and I have nothing bad to say about it - even though I cried loads!

 “My favourite part of the experience is the people that I met - Ruby and Manon are two of my closest friends now. Noel and Sandy were so lovely to work with and incredibly supportive. And, I’m a lot more confident now than when I went in.”

 Living locally, Briony’s favourite places to go out include family-friendly and dog-friendly pubs, with great food and atmosphere. The Crafty Cow and the Gloucester Old Spot in Horfield are top of the list, along with the Tinto Lounge, Grounded, Bakers and Co, Nonesuch Cup and Cafe Kino on Gloucester Road. She loves Grupo Lounge in Westbury and has spent a lot of time there over the years with the family.  

 Being on Bake Off has given this former QEH languages teacher new opportunities. Briony has just signed up with an agent and is booked for events next year including CarFest and various food festivals. She’s had a lot of positive responses on Instagram @brionymaybakes and Twitter about her recipes, especially the vegan ones, on her website www.brionybakes.co.uk and she’s keen to bring them all together in a cookbook.

 “I’m a really big fan of vegan baking and there’s not much out there. It’s only taken me five years to go from not being able to bake much to being on Bake Off. I want to show that if you get the basics right, you can experiment with flavours.”