Bringing fun and spice to British Bake OffView(s):
- Lankan-born Saku Chandrasekara’s journey on the contest may have ended last week, but she has many take-aways of her time on the show
By Shannon Salgadoe
The Great British Bake Off, one of the United Kingdom’s best-loved cooking competitions, currently in its 14th season has just rounded off Week Eight. This year, there was added reason to watch the show for all Sri Lankans for they were closely following the progress of one of this season’s most popular contestants – Sri Lankan-born Intelligence Analyst, Saku Chandrasekara.
Her fun personality saw Saku fast becoming a great fan favourite among audiences and peers, but sadly, her Bake Off journey came to an end last week. “My heart was broken when it was announced I was leaving, and I was so disappointed in myself. The warm hugs and lovely words from fellow bakers, presenters and the crew were very comforting. I also learned it is never too late to learn and enjoy a new hobby and be able to be very good at it!”
The Great British Bake Off is a chance for passionate amateur bakers to show off their skills and be crowned the UK’s Best Amateur Baker. Set in a picturesque country estate, the competition takes place over a ten-week period with each week having a particular theme. Each weekly episode consists of three rounds where one baker earns the title of Star Baker and another gets eliminated.
Interestingly, Saku only began baking in earnest when she moved to the UK along with her husband in 2003, more so after becoming a mother of two where she would replicate the snacks she saw in the supermarket for her children’s lunchboxes. A passionate baker, Saku says applying for Bake Off was the perfect opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and face new challenges. The show usually requires quite a bit of practising at home for all contestants and it was no different for Saku. “While doing my full-time job, I practised intensively from late afternoon to early hours, it was exhausting but fun. Now I miss my naps by the oven at midnight!” she says.
Bringing spice to the table with her use of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and curry spices, most of Saku’s bakes are influenced by her heritage such as a turtle cake she named ‘Tikiri’, a Sri Lankan breakfast-inspired biscuit illusion display complete with hoppers, string hoppers, roti, lunu miris, and chicken curry – all made from biscuits. There were also mini watalappan creme caramels and cinnamon buns that had a cardamom twist which had both judges praising her flavour choices and combinations. “The judges liked my flavours from Sri Lanka, Prue always gave me wonderful compliments and both judges said my flavours were spot on.”
Her time on Bake Off was not just about baking, as Saku, along with all other contestants found hilarious ways to relieve some of the tension while waiting for cakes to bake or bread to proof. For Saku this meant a spontaneous game of cricket with one of the hosts of the show where they made do with a roll of cling film as a bat and an orange as a cricket ball. “There were a few funny moments but the funniest was when I had the chance to play cricket with Alison and I hit her leg with an orange,” says Saku.
“It was a whole new world to me being in front of lots of cameras and doing my very first TikTok.” There were the challenges too. “ This was the first time in 20 years that I’ve been away from my family and that made me really miss them and my home comforts,” Saku added.
Next up for Saku are appearances on a few of the UK’s chat shows but fans can look forward to seeing and hearing more from her once the baking show comes to a close on November 28.
See more of Saku’s talent for baking on her
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