Tuesday evening was full of lightning flashes, the sound of thunder and torrential downpours But it was also a time of wobbly wedding cakes and glistening pretzels – yes, it was The Great British Bake Off final.
Budding bakers across the country, more than nine million of them to be exact, watched with bated breath as Frances was crowned the winner of the fourth series.
The show has started a phenomenon and 58 per cent of us tried baking in 2012, with start-up cake businesses having doubled in a year. One woman who knows how significant the show has been is Kelly Stewart.
Based in Knowle Village near Wickham, the 40-year-old has been running Creative Creations from her home for the past two years.
‘I think the show has been fantastic and it’s really shown people how enjoyable it is to bake,’ she explains.
‘There’s a general passion out there for baking. People just want to know where their food comes from and exactly what goes in it, so they prefer making it themselves.’
Kelly began baking with her husband in 1995. His family bakery business had a number of pâtisseries in London. It wasn’t until the couple moved down south, when her husband changed his career, that Kelly first thought of setting up on her own.
‘I’ve always been interested in design, or anything that meant working with my hands. I love creating something, so baking and decorating is ideal really.’
She adds: ‘I wanted to show people how to do it themselves. So many people would come into the shops and go “Oh I would never be able to do that”.
‘I just thought well you could, you just need someone to show you how it’s done. That’s the idea behind Creative Creations.’
Kelly now runs a range of workshops for those interested in baking, such as baking from scratch, how to make cake pops and icing. With classes lined up until Christmas, she’s announcing more in the coming weeks.
She also offers individuals the chance to learn on their own, and has vouchers available as gifts.
Kelly explains: ‘I do parties for children but I also started them for adults because they proved popular for them too. This year I’m hoping to launch a shop online offering all the tools you need to start doing it yourself.
‘A lot of my business is partly from people going online and seeing the website. Things like Google have worked really well for me.’
She hopes that, after experiencing the workshops, people will come back to learn new skills.
‘It’s really lovely to see people again and hear what they’ve done themselves at home. They show me what they’ve created and I find that really rewarding.’
For Kelly, the workshops also give people the chance to step out of their day-to-day lives and do something a bit different, whether they are bakers or not.
‘Some people want to learn some skills,’ she says, ‘but for me personally it’s about having quality time to yourself. Nowadays we are all so busy, but having the opportunity to just do a bit of cooking is important.
‘When we cook we have to concentrate, so you push everything else out the way for a while.
‘It’s quite therapeutic in a way.’
Many people walk through her front door and don’t have much confidence in their abilities.
She says: ‘Everyone can get to the final process, it’s just about breaking it down in the right way and putting it into layers that everyone can do gradually.
‘I did have one husband call me up once to check that his wife had actually made what she said she had made. A bit cheeky really but it proves a point!’
There are plans for the future of Creative Creations, but Kelly doesn’t want to let slip too much – she knows exactly how much competition is out there in the baking world right now.
She explains: ‘I hope I can continue growing the business. I’d like more people to come to the workshops. I just hope that people come down, even if they haven’t tried baking before.
‘If it’s something they really enjoy, then they can start trying it out themselves at home.’
And as Frances learnt throughout her time on the Bake Off, it’s not just about how pretty the cakes are.
Kelly adds: ‘It’s more important than anything else that what you make tastes good.
“If something goes out of this house I want it to taste as good as it looks. It’s not about perfection, it’s about enjoying the process. At the end of the day, either you or somebody else is going to eat it.’
Go to creativecreations.uk.com for more information.