Home town backing for Scots Bake Off semi-finalist

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PERTHSHIRE’S Flora Shedden has the backing of her home town as she heads into the Great British Bake Off semi-final tonight.

The 19-year-old will battle Ian, Nadiya, and Tamal for a place in the final.

Episode nine will see the contestants show off their skills by making a chocolate pastry tart, a chocolate soufflé and a chocolate centrepiece.

Ahead of tonight’s show, the residents of Dunkeld are nailing their colours firmly to the mast. At hardware store Kettles of Dunkeld, the teenager’s face beams down from a display of baking paraphernalia.

Employee Lorraine Hartshorne said staff are backing Flora to win the BBC series, saying: “We have put up displays to show our support.

“I never bothered watching Bake Off before but I started watching because of Flora. She’s done really well. Last week I had to pray that she would get through – I was on the edge of my seat.”

Down the road, at Indigo Charlie, Sam Ball says watching the show is “like a religion” and in the window of the shop stands a showstopper of her own: a baby blue tiered cake decorated with delicate black sugar flowers.

Flora’s appearance in the semi-finals has given Sam the chance to display a “Star Baker” banner that she has been waiting two months for a chance to use.

Mr Ball said: “I am very, very excited. Watching Bake Off is like a religion – the whole community is talking about it.

“You can see on Bake Off that Flora is using a lot of Scottish ingredients. I’ve been waiting on her getting Star Baker so I can put the banner up, but I can do it now she’s in the semi-final.

“She’s exactly the same as she is on the TV – she’s representing Scotland beautifully. I really hope she gets to the final but I’m not sure her nerves can take it.”

Fiona McPhail, owner of Spill the Beans coffee shop and baker of her own store’s cakes, says it’s great people are having a renewed interest in baking: “I love the fact that the show has got people talking about it – there’s a real buzz about baking and people now realise the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.

“I do wish her all the best – it’s exciting to have someone local in the competition.”

Early on in the series, the teenager was attacked by online trolls after revealing she had an Aga at home.

A parody Twitter account aping show judge Mary Berry wrote: “Flora has an Aga at home ... that just screams four ponies and a Range Rover.”

Flora’s sister Hebe jumped to her defence, tweeting that the family actually owns four brown hens and a Skoda. On her own account Flora said the family’s duck egg blue

Aga was older than her own parents.

But Flora, 19, does have her fans and has had to be smuggled out of pubs after starting university in Fife, saying: “At St Andrews I have a fantastic kitchen, so I can still bake and cook. It’s a great way to make yourself more popular very quickly.”