Great British Bake Off winners – whatever happened to the champion bakers?

The Great British Bake Off is heading into a 12th series, but as we wait to meet a fresh batch of bakers, what became of the 11 winners since they raised the cake stand in triumph?

Published: 13 July 2021 - 12.25pm
John Keeble/Getty Images Bake Off series 6 winner Nadiya Hussain

The Great British Bake Off 2020 was full of drama before the bakers even entered the tent for the first time - because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was late in starting and meant that the entire cast and crew had to quarantine together.

However, it was one of the few TV series to actually go ahead in a year of repeats and emergency news broadcasts, and it even managed to introduce a new host with comedian Matt Lucas taking the place of Sandi Toksvig alongside co-host Noel Fielding and judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

We're all hoping for more of a return to normality in 2021, but either way, Bake Off series 12 will feature all the agony and ecstasy we know and love – spectacular showstoppers, tense contestants, burnt bakes and of course those soggy bottoms.

But all the sweating and the swearing really does pay off, and winning Bake Off and raising the cake stand trophy in front of friends, family and fellow contestants can change your life. We catch up with all the previous winners of the Great British Bake Off from series 1 (2010) to series 11 (2020) to find out what they did next.

Series 1 – Edd Kimber

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Bake Off’s first-ever winner might have gone under the radar as the unlikely hit launched on BBC Two, but he still managed to carve out a pretty decent career from his victory.

Kimber, dubbed The Boy Who Bakes, has published three cookbooks – Say It With Cake, The Boy Who Bakes, and Patisserie Made Simple.

The former debt collector used to be the resident baker on the Alan Titchmarsh Show, has written about baking for magazines and newspapers and published his own cake blog.

Series 2 – Jo Wheatley

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Unassuming Jo Wheatley was a popular winner of series two as the show’s fanbase started to grow.

She has published two cookbooks inspired by her success: A Passion for Baking and Home Baking.

Wheatley also runs a home cooking school, where you can take classes in cupcake-making, and has written for newspapers and food magazines as well as appearing on TV.

Series 3 – John Whaite

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Next up to be crowned star baker of the series was John Whaite, who went on to study for a diploma in patisserie.

He’s put his qualifications and success to good use by opening a cooking school in Lancashire and publised his fourth recipe book in October 2017.

Whaite’s TV career has taken off, too – as well as being a regular contributor to Lorraine and a guest on various other programmes, he co-presents ITV’s daytime cooking competition Chopping Block with Rosemary Shrager.

Series 4 – Frances Quinn

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The name you’ll probably remember from series four is the outspoken Ruby Tandoh, but it was children’s clothing designer Frances Quinn who ultimately picked up the cake stand and who has been quietly building her career in cake ever since.

Her debut cookbook, Quinntessential Baking, came out in 2015 and she has a very impressive list of private clients that has included illustrator Quentin Blake, Jools Holland and the Wimbledon Championships.

Quinn has also landed one of the best ambassador roles we’ve heard of – for the Cream Tea Society. How jammy is that?!

Series 5 – Nancy Birtwhistle

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Grandmother-of-eight Birtwhistle was already retired when she won, but hurled herself back into the world of work with the backing of judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

Birtwhistle is now a contributor to the Daily Telegraph, runs her own baking website, and travels the country giving baking demonstrations.

Series 6 – Nadiya Hussain

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The biggest star to come out of the programme is undoubtedly Nadiya Hussain, who has become a household name since she scooped the top prize.

Less than a year after winning the 2015 series, Nadiya was commissioned to bake a 90th birthday cake for the Queen and proved that she was equally talented away from the kitchen when she made TV appearances as a One Show reporter and a Loose Women panellist.

Hussain has published recipe books for adults and children, and in 2017 released her first novel, The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters, with two more in the pipeline.

She is also now a star of foodie TV, having judged Junior Bake Off, presented food travelogue The Chronicles of Nadiya, fronted 2017 series Nadiya’s British Food Adventure, and hosted the Big Family Cooking Showdown, the show which replaced Bake Off in the BBC schedules.

In July 2018 she aired her second TV series, Nadiya's Family Favourites, while her 2019 series, Time to Eat, shared time-saving kitchen tips and tricks.

Her latest eight-part show, Nadiya Bakes, goes back to Bake Off basics and sees Nadiya share her love of baking with some of her favourite recipes. It will be broadcast on BBC Two in September and October 2020.

In 2016 her stardom was recognised by Debrett’s, who named her as one of the 500 most influential people in the UK, and she has also been a guest on Desert Island Discs.

Series 7 – Candice Brown

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The final Bake Off winner on the BBC was PE teacher Brown, who has since quit her day job to focus on baking full-time.

Her first recipe book was titled Comfort: Delicious Bakes and Family Treats, and she has appeared as a guest cook on This Morning.

Brown was briefly back on our screens at the beginning of 2019, when she took part in the comeback series of ITV's Dancing on Ice.

She was partnered with Matt Evers, but only stayed in the competition for a couple of weeks before she was first to be voted out. 

Series 8 - Sophie Faldo

Royal Artillery officer Sophie Faldo had the honour of being the first winner after Bake Off's switch to Channel 4. Her victory didn’t come as a complete surprise, however, after judge Prue Leith had posted a message of congratulations to Sophie 12 hours before the final was broadcast.

When you take into account unflappable Faldo's past achievements, it comes as no surprise she stormed to victory - she was an accomplished ballerina, a former surveillance consultant, used to be a ski-touring instructor, won a bronze medal at the British Rowing Championships and was training as a stunt performer.

Faldo has been taking on special commissions since her victory, including making a gigantic cake for HMS Belfast. She has also set up her own company, Sophie Faldo Couture Cakes, which designs cakes and desserts for weddings and events

Series 9 - Rahul Mandal

Poor Rahul was possibly the most stressed-out contestant Bake Off has ever known, but he was equally adored by viewers.

Rahul's best, despite being superhuman in scale, was never quite good enough for the ambitious baker himself, leading to tears, anxiety, and some of the most incredible creations we've seen.

In an incredibly dramatic final, the heatwave of 2018 caused one of the glass ingredient jars on Rahul's bench to explode - meaning he had to start again after the other finalists.

However, he kept his cool under pressure and was crowned the winner. Since his win Rahul has written a column in The Times Magazine and has occasionally cooked on ITV’s This Morning. Despite his baking success, he has continued in his role as an engineering researcher at the University of Sheffield's Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Series 10 – David Atherton

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David Atherton’s series 10 triumph made Bake Off history for several reasons. First, the health advisor became the first winner never to have been named Star Baker during the course of a series.

Atherton was also lucky to make the show at all. Originally a reserve, he was called up to replace another contestant shortly before filming started.

His victory over fellow finalists Steph Blackwell and Alice Fevronia (pictured above with Atherton) also marked the first time the show had featured two consecutive male winners.

Since his big win, Atherton has written a cookery column for The Guardian on food for fitness, and his first book, appropriately titled My First Cookbook, was published in August 2020.

Series 11 - Peter Sawkins

Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions

Bake Off 2020 was a series like no other - because of the coronavirus pandemic, contestants had to quarantine together for the duration of their time in the competition.

It meant the bakers got to know each other much better, and the title meant much more to all of them after making such a huge commitment.

Peter Sawkins, a 20-year-old student (far right in the group photo above), was victorious in the final against Dave Friday and Laura Adlington to become the contest's youngest ever winner.

A self-confessed Bake Off nerd, he said: "I can't quite believe that I am here, I can't quite believe that I made it onto the show, and I can't quite believe that the show happened. This is going to be a really huge chapter in my life, and what a way for it to end.

"I wanted this a lot. When I was 12, I was watching repeats of Bake Off back-to-back, and it got me into baking big time. I am a Bake Off nerd, and I think 12-year-old Peter would be in awe, and just the most excited giddy kid. I am that excited giddy kid right now."

The Great British Bake Off returns to Channel 4 in the autumn.

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