The line-up for the new series of The Great British Bake Off is the youngest in the show’s history – and is comprised of 13 amateur bakers rather than the usual 12.
The baker’s dozen of hopefuls includes seven people in their 20s while the oldest contestant is 56, with an average age of 31 in the tent.
In previous years there have been contestants in their 60s and 70s, and the majority of line-ups have had an average age closer to 40.
There are usually 12 amateurs in the Bake Off each year, with the exception of 2013 when 13 took part, and the first series in 2010 when there were just 10.
The aspiring bakers will be competing to impress judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood across a series of challenges where they will be tasked with baking cakes, biscuits and breads among other tasty creations in a bid to be named Bake Off champion.
The upcoming series, which kicks off next week, will be the third to air on Channel 4 after the show parted ways with the BBC.
Among this year’s contestants are a geography teacher, a fashion designer, a HGV driver and a veterinary surgeon.
Geography teacher Alice, 28, took up baking at the age of 15 when a back operation for scoliosis left her unable to do sport.
In her early 20s, she moved to New Zealand, where she picked up the art of making a pavlova while attending art school. Now back in the UK and living in London, Alice often uses her cakes in her lessons, demonstrating natural activities such as coastal erosion and volcanic activity.
She said: “I have wanted to be in Bake Off ever since the show has started, but I wasn’t really good enough when I was 18. To be on such a big show doing something that you are passionate about is a huge thing.
“I also felt that to be accepted into the tent gave me the confidence to feel that I could bake. It was a dream come true!”
Amelia, a 24-year-old sportswear designer from Halifax, has been baking since the age of five, when she watched her mother and grandmother make beautiful cake decorations.
Although now living in London, Amelia – who has wanted to take part in Bake Off since the first series in 2010 – still draws on her northern roots in her baking and firmly believes that freshly farmed produce is essential for a good bake.
HGV driver Phil, 56, started taking baking seriously six years ago, despite having enjoyed baking bread in his home economics classes at school.
Phil, who lives in Rainham, east London, with his wife and two daughters, regularly bakes four to five times a week, creating an array of breads including focaccia and brioche. Passionate about motorbikes as well as baking, he often turns up to his bike meetings with his edible creations.
He said that he has “yearned” to be on Bake Off for years and that a couple who are long-term friends of his will be very surprised he is in the series.
“They had been staying with us recently and said ‘you make such wonderful cakes’, but have never mentioned to me that I should go on Bake Off, so I think they haven’t a clue that I would be in it,” he said.
Somerset-based veterinary surgeon Rosie likes to wind down from her stressful job by baking through the night, and to keep the practice nurses at her surgery well-fed.
The 28-year-old’s favourite thing to bake is a box of mixed pastries and she is inspired by her rural surroundings, from the orchards next to her house to the eggs laid by her ducks and chickens.
Joining them will be Steph, a 28-year-old shop assistant from Chester, who enjoys creating healthy bakes with added fruits and vegetables, Priya, a 34-year-old marketing consultant from Leicester who is a self-professed perfectionist and lover of baking late into the night, and print shop administrator Michelle, 35, from Tenby in Wales, who bakes almost every other day and enjoys experimenting with flavours.
Also in the tent will be theatre manager and fitness instructor Michael, 26, from Stratford-upon-Avon, who is inspired by the flavours of his Indian heritage, and 20-year-old part-time waiter and sports science student Jamie from Surrey, who likes the challenge of a technical bake such as a croquembouche.
Helena, a 40-year-old online project manager from Leeds, focuses on using American flavours as well as those from her Spanish heritage in her baking, while international health adviser David, 36, who lives in London but comes from Yorkshire, is fond of robust flavours and solid bakes, rather than fancy, colourful decorations.
The line-up is completed by support worker Dan, 32, from Rotherham, who is largely self-taught in the kitchen and made his own wedding cake, and 20-year-old English literature Durham University student Henry, who tests out his culinary skills and carefully combined flavours on his house mates.
The new series of The Great British Bake Off, hosted by Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, will begin on Channel 4 on August 27 at 8pm.