Q&A with The Great British Bake Off star Rev Lee Banfield

John Pantry talks to the only Reverend on the new series of BBC One's The Great British Bake Off

When did you first take up baking?

It was back in 1984. I had a back injury. It was also that point that I committed my life to Christ because I picked up a Bible and started to read it. It was during that time while I was off work and trying to recover that I decided to make a cake - I needed something to do. So when my wife was at work and children were at school I went into the kitchen and made a lemon tart. We thoroughly enjoyed it when we had it for tea. Since then I’ve been baking!

Are cakes your favourite thing to bake?

Yeah I enjoy baking cakes the best. Bread is nice, but the only problem is you eat too much of it when you make it yourself!

Why do you think you were picked for the show? I presume you had to go through various auditions?

Yeah it was quite a long process. I applied just before Christmas. My wife suggested going in for it. I had second thoughts about it. But I went on the internet, filled out the application form and sent it in. After a few days I had a call and it went from there.

I watched the series every year! I think the key to it is the fact that everyone is supportive and helps each other. Unlike any other competition on television, the contestants are supporting each other and are interested in how each other are doing with the bake.

There's no competitiveness off-screen. There has to be a little bit on screen. We want to do our best.

I know you're not allowed to say how well you did, but what was the experience like? 

It was wonderful to be involved in it. Just to walk across that grass, into the tent and put your apron on, it just felt unreal. One thing I’m planning on doing this Sunday is take to church what I baked first in the tent. I’m planning on taking that to church and we’ll have it after the service. 

Were you able to be open about your faith with producers and other contestants?

Yes I was. You weren’t restricted.

Did faith help with the pressures of the show?

Yes it did. I wanted to go in there and enjoy the experience. That’s what I prayed about. And I did!

Hopefully your faith will keep you grounded?

It will do. I’ll still be preaching and the pastor at Cornerstone, so the show won’t change my life - I don’t see it making much of a difference to my career at my age.

Will there be baking references in your sermons?

I think there will be! And references to Bake Off as well. We have a group at church I do baking demonstrations for. 

I’m completely self taught. I just picked up a recipe book and went straight to it! I enjoy practical things. I’m from a building background so I enjoy putting things together.

Click here to hear Rev Lee Banfield on Premier Christian Radio's Inspirational Breakfast programme

Click here to request a free copy of Premier Christianity magazine

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