Norfolk’s Great British Bake Off star Kate Barmby confuses judges with blue cake

Kate Barmby on The Great British Bake Off. Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Kate Barmby on The Great British Bake Off. Photographer: Mark Bourdillon - Credit: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon

Norfolk's Great British Bake Off contestant Kate Barmby employed some blue-sky thinking by presenting judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry with a cake that she hoped wouldn't be a hard act to swallow.

The 37-year-old Norfolk and Norwich University Nurse produced a show-stopping bright blue gooseberry cake adorned with hand-piped chocolate swallows in the first episode of the hugely popular baking show which aired last night.

'I got married in my parents' barn and there were swallows nesting – it always reminds me of getting married,' she told the judges, before pointing out that she was not only wearing a swallow-print dress, but swallow print earrings, too.

Presented as a 'mirror cake' – a cake with a shiny glaze – Mary was damning with faint praise: 'It looks as though you have a good shaped cake underneath,' she told Kate, who lives in Brooke, near Norwich, before adding 'blue is not a good colour for icing.'

Paul rubbed salt into the wound by saying the swallows looked like 'penguins in the sea' but both declared that Kate's cake was beautifully flavoured.


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We knew then that she would live to bake another day and Norfolk breathed a sigh of relief.

Her One Swallow Does Not a Summer Make cake followed her Berry Best Apple and Bramble Drizzle Cake ('disappointing') and her technical challenge Jaffa Cakes ('these are quite neat…the sponge is good, they hold together well').

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But more importantly, it marked Kate as an early contender for Maverick Baker: will she wear outfits that co-ordinate with every cake she bakes? Will she continue to flout Mary Berry's strict icing colour chart? Does she have an anecdote about biscuits for next week? I very much hope the answer to all the above is a resounding 'yes'.

The baking battle with its ratings winning recipe which takes two professionals, two comedians and 12 bakers, sticks them in a tent and turns on the oven is back for 10 glorious weeks.

It was the most-watched show of 2015 with more than 15 million viewers turning in for the final in October, when the nation's sweetheart, Nadiya Hussain, claimed the baking crown and a whole new life in professional kitchens.

Next week, contestants will be asked to whip up a batch of biscuits, some Viennese whirls and a show-stopping gingerbread structure. Please make Norwich Cathedral, Kate (you can substitute the peregrine falcons for penguins if you like).

The Great British Bake Off returns at 8pm next Wednesday on BBC1.

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