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The Great British Bake Off Star Cathryn Dresser

10/06/2014 17:22 | Updated 20 May 2015

The Great British Bake Off star Cathryn Dresser

Kate Christer © 2013

Cathryn Dresser was a contestant on the 2012 series of The Great British Bake Off, the hugely popular baking show judged by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. Cathryn, mum to Maisie, 10, and Ambrose, five, is the proud author of a new baking book for children and families called Let's Bake.

"The idea for Let's Bake originated way back when Bake Off finished," Cathryn tells us. "It seems like a huge build up because it's been in the works for quite a while, but it's so exciting to have it in print - seeing it in the shops is just incredible, and it's the perfect fit for me as a baker and mum-of-two.

"My favourite recipe is probably the Honeybee Biscuits. It holds a special place in my heart because when we were shooting it for the book, my kids and their friends were there and it was really good fun."

Cathryn's excitement about the Bake Off is infectious, and it's clear for her it was more then just a TV show - her dream is to front the kids' spin-off Junior Bake Off. "It sounds like a cliché, but I can honestly say Bake Off was the best experience of my life – bar having my children of course!

"It gave me a massive confidence boost in every respect. It was the first time I had ever spent time away from my family, so it was a huge experience for me in so many ways.

"I wish I had managed to beat my nerves early on as I think I didn't enjoy the early rounds as much as I could have. When I was a bit more confident it was the later rounds, but then of course the pressure was ramped up so much.

"My favourite memory was actually the week I got the boot. The weekend we filmed was so much fun because it was James's 21st birthday. I also have brilliant memories of playing word bingo with presenters Mel and Sue during the technical challenge (where the contestants are asked to make a batch of baking with a minimal instruction/a very basic recipe).

"We'd guess a list of phrases that Mary and Paul would use to judge us - things like 'there's quite a selection' and 'aren't they all different'. We'd nearly always hear one of them.

"A lot of people ask if I have bad memories of when my dough fell on the carpet - 'I can't serve Mary Berry green carpet!' - but really it was the week I made a peanut butter pie. I took it up and it looked fantastic but it tasted disgusting. If it had been remotely OK I would have got Star Baker than week – but I didn't, and I never did win that."

As well as working wonders in the kitchen, Cathryn is proud that daughter Maisie and son Ambrose share her enthusiasm for baking.

"They both love cooking, baking and being in the kitchen. Ambrose's favourite thing is cracking eggs – he comes in and says 'I've come to crack the eggs' and when I say the recipe doesn't include them he goes and does it anyway!

"They came to the final with me for the garden party and Ambrose recognised Mary and said, 'You kicked my mum off!' Luckily she was very sweet about it!"

We put Cathryn through her paces for our regular At My Table series.

Describe your cooking style in three words

Experimental, messy, baker (that makes me sound like an experimental, messy baker!)

The weirdest thing I've ever eaten is...

A Wildebeest burger.

In my cupboard you will always find...

Flour and sugar.

What would you cook for the Queen?

Queen of hearts tart.

I would tell parents of fussy eaters...

Don't ever give up on a food and let your kids get involved in the kitchen making and prepping food themselves.

My guilty food pleasure is...

Uncooked cake batter – I have to put washing up liquid into a bowl straightaway or I eat the leftovers.

Most memorable food experience...

Bake Off! (quickest answer ever).

For my last meal I would eat...

Spaghetti bolognese – I could eat that every day.

I would never, ever eat...

I'd like to think I would try anything once.

When I'm home alone I cook...

Cake – made with whatever fruit or jam I have hanging around.

If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be...

Sandwiches with cheese and pickle or Marmite.

My kitchen is always...

Messy

Number one on my foodies bucket list is...

A Heston food experience - I'm not too fussy which!

LET'S BAKE by Cathryn Dresser, published by Orion Children's Books, 2013, is out now.

Cathryn's recipes on Parentdish:

More Bake Off fun:

Great British Bake Off star Cathryn Dresser's new book, Let's Bake

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