A record 14.5 million viewers tuned in Wednesday night as a 30-year-old Bangladesh-origin amateur baker was declared the winner of a cookery show that presented another perspective of Britain’s uneasy relationship with Islam.
Prime Minister David Cameron was among millions of people rooting for Nadiya Hussain, a housewife from Leeds, to win BBC’s show, the ‘Great British Bake Off’. In the final episode, she beat Indian-origin Tamal Ray and Ian Cumming.
In the end, she literally made the cake and ate it too.
Now hailed as an inspiration, Luton-born Hussain admitted she was nervous that people “would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake”, but she grew in confidence and produced a showstopper cake in the final that tough judges said was ‘perfect’.
Hussain baked a lemon drizzle cake – a ‘bigh fat British wedding cake’ – and adorned it with jewels from her marriage in Bangladesh. The stand was decorated in red, white and blue ‘sari’ material.
She said: “The showstopper was a celebration cake, and as I never had my own wedding cake I wanted a proper iced wedding cake…At the very end of the filming I took the cake out to my family’s table and we all had a slice. So my husband and I did get our wedding cake after all.”
Popular on social media for her distinctive facial expressions and one-liners, Hussain, a mother of three under-10 children, said: “I’m just as British as anyone else, and I hope I have proved that. I think the show is a fantastic representation of British society today”.
Daughter of a Bangladesh immigrant who runs a restaurant, she added: “The feedback I have had reveals how accepting people are of different cultures and religions. Now people know who I am, I can see how tolerant and accepting British society is.”
In the final episode, Tamal Ray struggled as the crème patisserie for his toffee and marmalade iced buns did not set in the given time, while Cumming forgot to add sugar to the dough of his spiced buns.