Being a Former Officer Helped Sophie Win Bake Off

Sophie Faldo won the Great British Bake Off last year. As well as a baking champion, she is also a former Army Captain. Sophie spoke to the OA about her career and cakes.

Why did you leave the Army?
I left for a multitude of reasons: it was a good time and I had achieved most of what I wanted to do while I was serving. I was getting a little fear of missing out, and I felt there were things outside of the Army that I wanted to do.

What did you do after leaving?
I became a fulltime rower, and then I was working as a personal trainer in a gym and for a military boot camp organisation.

How did you get onto Bake Off?
It started with an application form, and I think thirteen and a half thousand people entered. If they like you then it goes to a preliminary round, which is a long phone call, lasting around an hour and a half. They ask you about yourself and lots of technical questions, because it is easy to fib on application form, to make sure you do know what you are talking about. Then there is a series of interviews and auditions to get you through to the final 12.

What was the toughest part of Bake Off?
The relentlessness – the moment you find out you’re through to the next week, you literally have a few moments to enjoy it, and then you have to start thinking about what you will do for the next week.

Also the adrenaline, which goes up for the bake and then down; then up for the judging and then down again. You end up having six highs every weekend, which takes it out of you.

How did being a former officer help you on Bake-Off?
I didn’t realise how much it would help me, but it was enormous. Skills that you have you take for granted – time management the ability to handle pressure – are more than people realise. There were a few times when things weren’t going right, or I was running out of time, and had I been someone else I probably would have flapped. But instead I went “I have two minutes left, what can I get done in that time.”

There was one bake where I was no way near finished, but I thought “Right, what can I get done.” Did a few little bits and bobs, and Prue said “You clearly finished in time.” And I thought “just smile and nod.”

You never know what your next career could be.

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