Here is a rather special baker who has just starred in the latest series of Channel 4’s Junior Bake Off. Immy – who taught herself how to bake – is nine years old and lives with her mum and big brother in Bath. She loves outdoors activities, in particular surfing, bodyboarding and playing hockey. It is her dream to represent Great Britain one day in skateboarding, like her idol Sky Brown. Immy likes to listen to music while she bakes, and her speciality is coffee and walnut cake.
When did you first start baking and who inspired you? I first started baking when I was about two. I always used to watch my mum and papa cook. I used to help mix things and lick the bowls. YUM YUM :). I think the first thing I properly made on my own was chocolate cornflake cakes. Mary Berry, the ‘Queen of Bath’ inspired me to start baking. I LOVE watching her cooking programmes. When I was in Year 2 at school I didn’t want to do my reading or writing homework. I had a lovely teacher who would ask me to read a recipe and write it out in a special book. She called the book ‘Immy Berry’s cook book’. I used to design cakes and draw them in the book. It was way more fun than proper reading and writing!!!
Where did you live during each week you were appearing on JBO? And where was it filmed? It was filmed at a school in Kent. When we were filming the JBO we stayed in a really nice hotel about 10 minutes away. I shared a room with my mum. They had a big chillout room for us. There was a table tennis table and loads of games and snacks and drinks. There was a swimming pool, so we went swimming when we had a day off. There wasn’t much time for chilling, though, it was quite full on. A big white coach picked us up every day at about 7am and took us to the tent. We had a chaperone who looked after us for the day. There was a separate catering tent. The food was so good (they did the BEST hash browns!) and the staff were so lovely. We got back to the hotel in the evenings at about 7pm. We had supper all together and then it was time for bed, ready for the next day. One night we had a Chinese takeaway and a talent contest. We also watched the Women’s Euros final against Germany.
What was your favourite bake during your time on JBO? I would say it would be my ‘If I was prime minister for the day cake’. I made a lemon and lemon curd cake in the shape of an ice cream. It was fun because I made a pina colada (non-alcoholic) on the side. It was my first ever showstopper.
Do you think some of the technicals were a bit too tricky? YES!!! Biscuit week I think was the hardest. We had to make unicorn waifer horns with a white chocolate crème pâtissière. I have never made waifers before and I had no clue what I was doing. I was winging it!!! I don’t think I’m ever going to make them again!!!
You are a bit of a messy baker and we could sometimes see ingredients in your hair. Do you think this held you back, or is it just part of your natural baking method? No way. I think being a messy baker is part of me. I don’t realise I’m being messy. I get a bit carried away and a bit creative. I feel sorry for my mum when I’m baking at home. Well, she doesn’t let me bake all the time because I’m so messy. She lets me bake as a treat. I am only allowed to bake if I do the tidying up. My mum can’t be in the same room as me. She hides in her bedroom until I’m finished!!!
How did you find Harry Hill – and was he a help or a hindrance? You certainly put him in his place a couple of times when he asked you silly questions. Oh I loved Harry Hill. We had a ball. Sometimes he would come to talk to me at a crucial moment so it was a bit difficult. I had to basically try to tell him to leave me alone in a polite way. But he was really kind to me when I got voted off.
Did you have a favourite Junior Bake-off friend? Obviously I loved all of my Heat A. If I had to choose my favourites it would be the twins (Alfie and Charlie), Dolly, Sofia, Annabelle, Ollie and Zeke (all of them). If I had to pick just one it would have to be Charlie. He was super cool and funny. We got on really well. I liked his back to front cap.
What was the JBO tent like to work in? HOT, HECTIC and HILARIOUS. It was so much fun. I was just making creations with my friends and didn’t have to tidy up. There were loads of cameramen everywhere and lots of questions being asked by the production team so you had to be able to multitask.
Junior Bake Off has made me realise dreams really do come true, to never, ever give up, and to have self-belief…
Did you find it difficult cooking and baking while the cameras were rolling? No not really. Sometimes, though, if something was going badly or if you were at a crucial moment it was quite intense, but after a while you got used to it.
Are Rav and Liam as nice and smiley as on the television? Yes they are both lovely. Rav always had lovely clothes and hair. She had her own make-up artist who followed her around the tent. Liam was also cool and funny. They stayed in the same hotel as us, so we spent some evenings together. When people got voted off they were really supportive. Rav would give you a cuddle and Liam would give you a Liam fist pump!!!
Who is a chef or cook that you particularly admire? Definitely 100% Jamie Oliver. He is dyslexic like me. He doesn’t like reading or writing, like me. He encourages you to find your passion in life and express yourself. I love that.
What did you take from your experience in JBO? It has made me realise dreams really do come true, to never, ever give up and to have self-belief. It’s better to try and fail, than fail to try. I have wanted to enter JBO since I was four. But my mum said I had to wait until I was nine. I’ve also learnt it’s important to follow recipes. I tend to freestyle a bit too much and it went a bit wrong. I absolutely loved it, it was definitely my biggest achievement. I have made friends for life. Heat A still all speak together. We are hopefully all going camping together in the summer.
Do you now have a taste for making different bakes? Definitely. I have learnt to make things from around the world and I’ve learnt to make more exotic things.
What did your school friends think of your being on JBO? My friends have all been super kind and supportive. I think they were proud of me and enjoyed tasting some of my practice bakes. It was quite difficult keeping it a secret from them all!!!
I hear you love surfing and bodyboarding – why do you love them and when do you get a chance to do these? I love anything to do with water. I go to my Papa and Grandpa’s house in Poole lots – they live very close to the beach so I get to go paddleboarding and kayaking with my cousins. I also go on a camping holiday to Cornwall every summer with friends. We go surfing, bodyboarding, skim boarding, crabbing, jumping off cliffs. It’s so much fun!!!
Do you think Amelia deserved to win? Good question. I think all the finalists were great. Amelia and Thomas were very organised and neat. Kind of the opposite of me!!! All 15 episodes of Series 4 of Junior Bake Off are available on channel4.com/programmes/junior-bake-off.
Featured image: Immy baking with Harry looking on in the JBO tent