Co Down baker makes it through first stage of Great British Bake Off

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Great British Bake Off’s Ulster contestant Andrew Smyth, who has been dubbed ‘this year’s wild card’, made it through the first stage of the popular show against 11 other contestants.

The 25-year-old aerospace engineer for Rolls-Royce – who comes from Co Down – now designs jet engines and currently lives in Derby where he works.

He reveals in his BBC biography that he was “taught to bake by his mum and gran and has their safeguarded recipes in his arsenal”.

The ‘straight A student’ who attended Cambridge University escaped elimination on Wednesday night when church minister Lee Banfield became the first person to leave the show.

The 67-year-old, who was also the oldest competitor in the seventh series of the popular BBC show, told how he was “disappointed to be the first off” after his trio of bakes failed to impress judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

During the first episode, the amateur bakers were asked to create drizzle cakes for the signature bake and Jaffa Cakes in the technical challenge, before constructing a perfect genoise sponge with a mirror glaze for their final bakes, known as the Showstopper.

Following his departure, Banfield said the worst moment in the competition was when Hollywood said “that isn’t a Jaffa Cake” when judging his technical bake.

He said: “I was trying to keep a straight face so I didn’t give it away that it was mine.

“I’ve always enjoyed baking and at church I do regular baking demonstrations. I won’t show the congregation how to make a Jaffa Cake, I am not going to repeat that experience – I’ll buy them a pack instead.”

Banfield took part in the popular BBC One programme after his wife of 47 years encouraged him to apply.

He added that he will continue to bake and do his demonstrations at church alongside his job as a pastor.