Just 17, Martha is the BBC One show’s youngest ever baker and combines TV appearances to craft perfect profiteroles and marvellous macaroons with her studies at Charters School, Ascot. When not dazzling Bake Off judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, Martha studies food technology, maths and chemistry.
“I may be in school, but my head is always in the kitchen,” Martha told the programme’s makers. Also working on the cheese counter at a local supermarket gives her the inspiration to try different cheeses and flavours in her bakes.
Setting her gloves on fire
Martha owes her TV stardom to her success in the Rotary Club’s Young Chef of the Year competition in 2012. After winning the first local heat as East Berkshire’s Young Chef of the Year, she went on to achieve second place in the Thames Valley heat – despite causing a kitchen evacuation after setting her gloves on fire.
FoodManufacture.co.uk video interviewed Martha last autumn about her participation in Nottingham University’s Summer School, which aims to introduce young people into careers in food and drink manufacturing. See the full interview below.
During the interview, Martha told us the course had kindled her passion for food technology and that she hoped to make a career in new product development. Fascinated by the science of baking, she wanted to learn why cakes rise, what makes choux pastry puff up and what happens inside bread to give it structure.
Revival in flagging home baking sales
Meanwhile, the TV show is credited with sparking a big revival in flagging home baking sales, said market analyst IRI earlier this month.
Sales of baking products fell in the first six months of this year – with value sales down by 3.2% and volume sales by 6%, according to the analyst. But sales picked up, as the TV show aired.
“There are clear signs of a link between sales of some home baking categories and the TV show the Great British Bake Off,” said Tim Eales, director of strategic insight. “Even while shoppers continue to cut back on how they buy from major supermarkets, they can’t seem to resist the lure of baking goods at the heart of the new TV series.”
More recently, the TV show attracted controversy after one contestant dumped his baked Alaska in the bin and stormed off the set, after claiming another baker had removed it from a freezer where it was setting.
The BBC’s feedback show Points of View also featured viewers’ complaints about allegedly “smutty remarks” – featuring cherries, nuts, hot baps and soggy bottoms – from presenter and comedian Sue Perkins.
The next episode of the Great British Bake Off airs tonight (September 24) on BBC One at 20.00.