Flora Shedden takes gap year to write new cook book

Flora Shedden says that such opportunities 'are only there now'. Picture: PA

Flora Shedden says that such opportunities 'are only there now'. Picture: PA

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Great British Bake Off semi-finalist Flora Shedden has announced she is taking a year off from university to write a cookbook.

The 19-year-old from Dunkeld, Perthshire, was studying art history at St Andrews University but made the “tough” decision to step back as offers flooded in.

She was definitely a deserving winner

Nadiya Hussain

Industry experts have suggested Ms Shedden could earn at least £150,000 after her appearance on the BBC baking programme. She told an interview: “That would be nice. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed television.

“I’ve just signed a leave of absence at St Andrews University and started writing a book called Fatherings. The decision was really tough. I’d already taken the last year out working so I was conscious I was quite late starting a degree anyway.

“Putting it off for another year was something I really didn’t want to do. But this is an exciting time and these opportunities are only there now. They won’t come back in four years when I’ve finished my degree.”

She added: “It was difficult but I knew I didn’t want to do anything half-hearted. I didn’t want either my studies to slide or produce a book I wasn’t happy with. So I’ve got to grab it with both hands.”

Ms Shedden will be appearing this weekend as a star attraction at the Cake and Bake Show in Edinburgh, featuring The Great British Bake Off Live, including the three finalists from the programme, Ian Cumming, Tamal Ray and winner Nadiya Jamir Hussain.

“She was definitely a deserving winner,” said the teenager. “She was practising all hours of the night. She was like the best big sister in the tent.”

As popular as the baking show has been on TV, Ms Shedden backed comments by chef Michel Roux Jnr that TV cooks need to do more to get the right messages to parents who are not passing on food skills to their children.

She said: “I definitely support what he says because I see people at uni who just order in pizza every night.

“There’s a very upmarket way of cooking on TV these days and it’d be nice if there was a bit more emphasis on simpler meals. Telly loves chefs but while the food they produce looks beautiful, people might not try it themselves.”

Ms Shedden herself was caught out by trying to do too much on GBBO when her final creation crumbled and she missed out on the final.

She explained: “I wasn’t tasting things, which is rookie error number one. I had no sugar in the crispy topping, which is a huge error, and it didn’t have enough butter. If I stopped and thought about it, then maybe it would have gone better. But you are so knackered at the point, it’s just overhwhelming. I think it was a fair decision.”

Ms Shedden will try her pistachio and apple cake again in Edinburgh at the weekend - a recipe judge Paul Hollywood said was “stodgy”. She added: “It didn’t turn out great so I’ll be trying to rectify that one.”

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