A SHOP assistant from Chester will be trying to show she is the upper crust on one of the nation's favourite telly shows.

Yes, it is the time of year that many of us have been waiting for - the announcement of the contestants for this year's Great British Bake Off.

Chester and District Standard:

The 2019 Bakers

Among this year's 13 contestants - a Baker's Dozen for the second time - is Chester native Steph Blackwell who says she loves to make a mess in the kitchen.

Steph's love of baking was nurtured by her grandad who got her baking with his love of homemade bread.

Chester and District Standard:


Steph, 28, says she is self-taught and has been baking with a vengeance for the past three or so years.

She calls herself an ‘intermediate, still-learning’ baker.

Steph lives in Chester with her mum, and her passion for sports and wellness inspires her baking: she enjoys the challenge of making her bakes healthier, adding vegetables or fruits, lowering the refined sugar content and prioritising more nutritional fats.

Biscuits are Steph’s go-to bake – she relishes the challenge of creating a better version of a supermarket favourite – but her signature bake is her sourdough loaf using her starter, which she calls ‘Sammy’.

Talking about what it is like to be in the famous Bake Off tent, Steph said: "It’s a bit like a lottery, it wasn’t really joined up thinking, I didn’t think that I would get in, I wanted to give it a go. It’s just beyond anything that I can imagine, because I didn’t really dream that I would get in, it has been the most incredible surreal experience.

She said that she had some special memories from the first week of the contest.

Steph added: "I really remember laughing a lot at Jamie melting his butter in his proving drawer. I was very nervous and it just helped break the ice with us all."

And what would be Steph's favourite cake?

She answered: "It would definitely be a carrot cake, I don’t like anything to be too fancy. I really enjoyed my 18th birthday party, so I think it would have to be that. It was the first time I felt really grown up, I shared the party with two of my best friends from school. So it would be in the figures 18 and a cream cheese frosting.

She added that a few people will be surprised when they learn she is on the show.

"I think it’s more remote friends from work. They certainly wouldn’t think that I would have the courage to put myself forward so they have no idea," she said.

There are some changes this year.

There will be 13 bakers in the first episode and the line up has more millennials than before - there are no contestants older than 57.

Chester and District Standard:

Presenters and judges

Veteran judge Paul Hollywood said: "Yes, we have a baker’s dozen this year, it’s not the first time, we had 13 bakers in series 4. It does mean that one week two bakers will leave the tent, which is really tough. It also means there is a lot of cake to taste and judge that first week."

It marks the Wirral bakers tenth year in the show.

He said: "It’s gone quite quickly actually and when I look back it doesn’t seem like it was 10 years ago I was in the tent at Kingham where we started. That first year we moved the tent around the country each week, back then I never imagined we’d still be here 10 years later. I’ve done every single Bake Off and across US Bake Off and Junior Bake Off – it’s now 500 challenges that I have judged. That’s a lot.

And what’s Bake Off's magic ingredient?

"Always the bakers," said Paul. "They are the constant, it’s always the bakers that remain the heart of the show."

Fellow judge, Pru Leith said Steph and the other bakers show off their flair from the outset.

Pru said: "Yes from the very first episode we see the bakers show off their personalities and tell family stories throughout the first challenge. The Bakers are endlessly imaginative, and sometimes I feel my ideas are quite banal when I see what the bakers have come up with. There are some weird and wonderful creations that you can look forward to seeing."

The Bake Off returns to Channel Four on Tuesday, August 27.