Foodies Festival: Candice Brown
"Just go for it. Don't ever feel you can't or couldn’t do it. Be brave, be yourself and practice, practice, practice."
Born in North London, Candice grew up in the pubs that her parents ran – one of these pubs was famously immortalised in gingerbread for her most talked-about showstopper on the Great British Bake Off.
Since her GBBO victory, Candice has been extremely busy with a diverse range of projects. She’s a regular columnist for The Sunday Times, has baked on This Morning and Christmas Kitchen and has appeared as a panelist on Loose Women. Her very first book, Comfort, comes out on Ebury Press in July, with no-nonsense recipes for baking with kids, birthday parties for all ages, Christmas, afternoon teas, quick savoury bakes for weeknights and "fancier" recipes for the weekend. Candice appears in Oxford for Foodies Festival in September, and here she talks lipstick, Borneo and chicken nuggets…
Who inspired you to bake as a child, and who inspires you now?
My nan was my inspiration as a child. I spent a lot of time with her and my grandad when I was younger and I was always by her side. Now, I take inspiration from my family and friends.
How has your life changed since winning Great British Bake Off?
I have been given the most amazing opportunities, met the most incredible people and have been able to do some things for charity which is amazing. People knowing my name is very strange!
What’s your culinary guilty pleasure?
It’s our favourite thing to do when we bake so we have to ask…Do you lick the bowl?
No, but I always taste the mix before I cook it! If it tastes okay raw, it should taste fine when cooked.
What’s the biggest disaster you have ever had in the kitchen?
I had a red velvet cake once multiply in size in the oven. It was like something out a horror film – it just kept growing and spilling, then overflowing!
What is the bake you are most proud of creating on GBBO?
Probably the gingerbread pub. It should've been my weakest week and going into it I was really worried about making it, as my trial runs had been less than successful, so I couldn’t believe it when it came together like it did.
What tips would you give to budding bakers looking to bake a classic Victoria Sponge?
Soft butter. Don't over mix it, and add flavours: vanilla, lemon zest and orange zest all work perfectly.
Where is your favourite place to go for afternoon tea?
I love people coming to me more than going out, so I can bake for them. Or, if I am out, I love to try new places or markets for fresh bakes.
What was it like cooking in the Bake Off tent for Paul and Mary?
It was both nervewracking and an absolute honour. I just wanted to show them I could do it!
What kitchen items could you not live without?
My two Kitchen Aids – one standalone and one handheld. They’re used several times a day. I love everything about them!
When do you plan to bring out your first baking book?
Keep your eyes peeled…
Is there such a thing as too young to start in the kitchen?
Never! Cooking and baking is a life skill and something that everyone should try, and not be fearful of.
Have you been starstruck by any celebrity meetings since the show?
I was completely starstruck by Sir Chris Hoy and was really nervous about speaking to him – he’s an absolute legend and I made a right wally of myself! I met a couple of the Spice Girls too and that was amazing – they were my childhood.
Do you miss teaching, or has there not really been any time to think about it?
I do miss teaching. I think about it everyday but I have the opportunity to do something I may never get again, so I intend to grab it with both hands and enjoy every second.
What do you do to switch off from the world?
I bake! That's always been my go to for when I need to switch off.
How do you deal with negativity?
I remember all of the amazing people I've met and how lucky I am. I'm only human, so sometimes it is hurtful, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
When and where are you at your happiest?
I am happiest when I am up to my elbows in flour, chocolate in my hair and icing sugar in the air, or up a hill with my two boys.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Never, ever change.
Who do you look up to most in life?
My family are my world – my dad is my hero.
Are you excited about baking at Foodies Festival this summer?
Very excited. I love baking in front of people and interacting.
What’s on your Bucket List?
To see the Rolling Stones live, to visit Tiffany’s in New York and stand where Audrey Hepburn stood, to visit Borneo and help at an orangutan sanctuary, and finally to taste a cake from all the best bakeries in the world.
What three words would your friends describe you as?
I asked my best friend this – she said kind, loyal and unique.
What kind of cake would you be, and why?
A massive moist carrot cake – a bit spicy, crumbs everywhere and moreish.
If you were only allowed to wear one item of make-up, what would it be?
Do you have any advice for a home baker applying for Great British Bake Off next year?
Just go for it. Don't ever feel you can't or couldn’t do it. Be brave, be yourself and practice, practice, practice.
What’s next on your agenda?
I think I might make some cake! I have my Sunday Times columns and I’m working with This Morning programme, and I also have a collaboration with a London hotel for a vintage afternoon tea and lots of food festivals over the summer. I’m busy and having lots of fun!
Will there be a Candice Brown makeup range?
I would love that! Imagine how fun the research would be…
Do you ever bake in your pyjamas, or is it always heels and lippy?
I normally bake in my PJs or onesie, but it's also the perfect time to break in new heels!
Have you kept in touch with your Bake Off friends?
We speak every day – we have a Whatsapp group. I adore them all.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
A short break in Paris in the winter and then Greece in the summer for sun, sea and pastistio.
If you could only eat one type of cake for life, what would it be?
Chocolate peanut brownie. It can also be heated up and served with ice cream as a pudding.
What do you see as your ‘signature’ bake? How would you describe your baking style?
My style is old fashioned, but with a twist, whilst keeping it big, homely and hearty.
What would be your “last request” meal?
Dim sum, and lots of it!
What are your favourite ingredients to bake with?
Coconut oil is a favourite of mine, as well as ground almonds and lemon thyme.
Your bold lipstick shades created quite a buzz on the show. How important is colour and presentation to you when you're creating recipes?
You eat with your eyes first so it's important that a bake looks good visually, but flavour is the most important factor for me. I love simple, and rustic-looking bakes.
Candice appears at Foodies Festival in Oxford on Saturday 2 September.