Sophie Faldo has won The Great British Bake Off final – as revealed by judge Prue Leith in an accidental tweet. The former Army officer saw off bookies’ favourite Steven Carter-Bailey, who turned in a disappointing showstopper, and fellow finalist Kate Lyon.
But what was supposed to be TV’s best-kept secret was blown hours earlier by Leith, who tweeted at 10.37am: “No one told me judging a GBBO final would be so emotional. I wanted them all to win. Bravo Sophie.”
She quickly deleted and later apologised, explaining that she was in Bhutan and had misunderstood the time difference. “I am so sorry to the fans of the show for my mistake this morning, I am in a different time zone and mortified by my error.”
Faldo, 33, had been consistently good throughout the competition – earning the first ‘Hollywood handshake’ from Paul, although that was changed in the original broadcast. “On TV, it was edited so it looked like Steven got the first one but it was actually me,” she said.
Her showstopper was a triumph: a multi-layered mousse cake known as an entremet, titled ‘Ode to the Honey Bee’ and featuring honey custard, blackberry jelly, lemon curd and lavender mousse.
It is customary for the winner to dissolve into tears when their name is announced. But Faldo, who trained at Sandhurst and completed a seven-month tour of Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2009-10, was dry-eyed.
“I do keep my emotions under control, so there wasn’t really a point in the tent that I would burst into tears. It wasn’t going to happen at the end of the final either, because if anything it was a relief,” she said afterwards.
“If I hadn’t won it, I would have been so annoyed at myself that I didn’t get it right. I tend in baking to strive for perfection, with a kind of military precision, and I want it all to work out perfectly.”
Her boyfriend, chef David Slattery, applied for the contest on her behalf. “I’m incredibly proud of Sophie. To come up with some of the stuff she’s done is quite amazing,” he said.
Faldo found herself the subject of unwelcome headlines earlier this week when it was claimed that she was being investigated by the Department for Work and Pensions after claiming for help with housing costs as a single person while her Bake Off biography described her as living with her partner.
She said any suggestion of benefits fraud was “categorically untrue”.
Although she was previously training to be a stuntwoman and working as a personal trainer, Faldo now hopes to pursue a baking career.
“It would be wonderful to write a patisserie book, but let’s see what comes my way. I would like to try travelling the world for inspiration for starters,” she said.
Faldo described herself as a “cool, calm and collected” baker who enjoys working under pressure – a legacy of her military training.
Carter-Bailey had seemed unstoppable during the competition, being named Star Baker three times.
But his signature bread was under-proved and gluey, and his showstopper – a ying-yang design – failed to impress the judges.
Channel 4 confirmed today that Leith and Hollywood, along with presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, will return for another series next year.