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Great British Bake Off: Jo Wheatley on the contestants
Great British Bake Off's Jo Wheatley
It's the final of The Great British Bake Off! BBC2's hugely popular cooking series has made stars of judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. But who will the duo crown their 2012 winner out of John Whaite, Brendan Lynch and James Morton?
Jo Wheatley, the winner of the 2011 series, says it changed her life "massively". A mild-mannered mother-of-three, she knows exactly how the three finalists are feeling.
Now running her own cookery school from home, Jo has released a book of baking recipes. MSN had a little chat to her ahead of tonight's final...
How would you rate this series of The Great British Bake Off?
I've really enjoyed the show; I thought it was very good. I've loved watching it and it's so nice not to have the pressure of watching yourself on TV! It does bring back memories of last year and I'm looking forward to the final.
Among other challenges, the finalists will be tasked with making fondant fancies and a chiffon sponge. What is technically difficult about both?
In the case of the fondant fancies, you melt the fondant and it's quite heavy so as you're dipping in the sponge, it can break and crumble and rip and tear. It can be really tricky. I've made fondant fancies and although they turned out well, it's something you have to practice.
The chiffon sponge can be difficult because it's a very light sponge. There's a certain tin, with feet, that you turn upside down and you let the sponge cool in the tin. That's the one I've done before. It has to be very, very light.
What advice would you pass on to the finalists as they embark on this last stage?
I never dreamt I was going to win so when I got to the final, my nerves had just evaporated. Every week I wanted to go on to the next show and then there wasn't a next week so I'd accomplished what I'd wanted.
I was pleased to get through the entire series. To John, Brendan and James I'd say, if you can try and be calm, that helps. But it's obviously easier said than done.
Who do you think will be crowned winner?
They've all got different strengths so it depends on how they do tonight. I love the way James is so scientific and does whacky things; Brendan is so calm and meticulous and John has a totally unique style and his flavours always seem to be quite good as well.
The Great British Bake Off is storming the ratings. What's the secret of its success?
Every year it will get bigger and better because more and more people hear about it. The Great British Bake Off has a momentum about it that will see it continue to grow.
In baking terms, what made you say 'wow! I have to try and make that'?
I loved Cathryn's walnut whip cake. I'm not sure if that was the most outstanding of the series, but that was the one that definitely appealed to me. I thought they looked brilliant - really, really inventive.
Jo Wheatley's book: A Passion for Baking
Why has Mary Berry become such a favourite?
Mary's amazing. She's such a lovely lady. She holds such a special place in my heart. She's so kind and so gentle. If she ever says anything negative, it's always in a positive way. She's the most gorgeous lady you could ever hope to meet.
If anyone's sitting at home, wondering whether to apply for the next series of Bake Off, what would you say to them?
If you don't try something, you'll never know what could happen. I always say to people: 'what's the worst that could happen?' If you don't even attempt to take part, you'll never get to experience what we all have.
At least if you've attempted it, you're not going to be any worst off if you don't get through, but if you do, it will be the most amazing journey of your life. I had the most fantastic time - I loved every moment of it.
The Great British Bake Off final is tonight on BBC2 at 8pm
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