We sent two cupcake bakers stateside with their piping bags for the ultimate sweet battle, filming a very special episode of Cupcake Wars UK.
We spoke to Jessica Bradley, from Mama Doreen's Cupcakes, to find out how it all went.
Was there a part that you were most looking forward to?
The thing I was most excited about was going to the studio and to the set. Thinking, I’ve watched the show myself and now I’m here! Do I need to pinch myself, is this real? Seeing all of the judges sat there watching us, I was like ‘Oh, hello’. It was basically just a change of scenery; we’re in the bakery 24/7 and to bake in different places and to meet new people as well. I was so anxious about meeting the other contestants, especially the ones we were flying over with. Are we going to start fighting on the plane? I was quite nervous meeting them.
How did you find the competitors?
Obviously initially when you set off to go you think this is a competition. But I have never met a funnier bunch of people. I laughed from the minute we got on the plane to the minute we got off on our return. It was a case of we stuck together when we were over there. We were representing the Brits.
Did you pick up any tips from your baking opponents?
It was a bit of a tricky one really as you didn't watch them bake. The problem that we had was the ingredient side - they didn't have any self-raising flour; it's all different over there. So, it was like we were going over there and baking from scratch.
How did you find it facing the judges?
They seemed lovely. I was so hot under those lights and we were so tired as well from jetlag. I think at one point Jeremy was actually falling asleep.
What were the best comments from the judges?
There wasn't anything negative really, just a case of someone needing to go and the only thing they said about mine was there was too much buttercream on it. To be honest, that's our style anyway, we’re value for money and quality. We did extremely well in the circumstances and I'm very proud of my mother. We made the cake and that was the first time we made it using those ingredients and we pulled it off. Florian loved it, he could taste the five flavours in there. I wanted to incorporate two traditional drinks in there, which was Earl Grey with the lemon and Pimms – they didn't know what Pimms was. To us it worked.
What didn't go so well?
Watching that clock all the time, obviously the cameras are in your face and you're trying to get everything done in that amount of time. I burnt my marmalade. I burnt it about three times and I just had to stand by this microwave to make sure it's alright. Just the atmosphere around there is crazy.
How did you find the other contestants?
The woman from Piccadilly Bakery, she was absolutely lovely – I've got a lot of respect for her. She has three kids, two bakeries, and her husband is in the Navy so he's away a lot, she's amazing to go on the show as well. I really hope it really helps her business when the show comes out. I didn't get to speak to the other team that much but she was a dual UK and US citizen, so she knew a bit more about what was going on. I probably built up a better relationship with Jeremy and Jo because we flew over with them, and we’ll probably be friends for a long time.
Was there a point where you felt like it was going wrong? A crisis moment?
When you watch the show, the judges always say one bad thing about one of them; they never ever like all of them. So when they liked all the others, I was getting more and more nervous - it was awful. But they came to mine and they liked it, so that was a huge relief. So it was a case of who are they going to get rid of, and then they called my name, so I was knocked out – and we were just rooting for Jeremy then. He did so, so well, but they had a tough round in round two; I don’t think the judges liked any of the cakes. It’s such a shame as well because my stand was going beautiful; I planned a carriage, and it was absolutely stunning.
What was your favourite moment during filming?
My favourite moment was doing the documentary behind the scenes. It was so much fun going around Beverly Hills. I went up into my hotel, opened up the curtains and I had the Hollywood sign facing me. I was amazed. I was like ‘I’m in L.A. baby!’
Was the experience what you expected?
When I first found out I was going, I cried my eyes out because over the last few years, as a mother-daughter team, it has been so hard for us. Trying to build the business up, there has been more downs than ups and it's been a case of trying to push yourself, to keep on going. We got the call and it was just like, 'ahhh'. Even if I only get two orders out of this show I'll be happy. It was a really emotional time for us, and now I've come back and there's no cameras around and no Jeremy and Jo, no production team, and it's like 'did that really happen?' When I left L.A I was really upset, it was the most amazing week. You’ll never experience anything like that.
What will you take away from this?
Seeing how Americans make cupcakes is quite different to how we make them over here. Over here, it's all about the decorations. It's not like that over there because a tub of fondant is so expensive.
What do you think this will do for your business?
I'm hoping it will do something for the business, because there were no negative comments about our cakes. I’m praying it's going to help us generate more business, from weddings to people coming to our shop and generally overall.
What will you take away from the experience?
We made some great contacts and absolutely loved L.A.
Has it changed your approach to baking?
We have a really strong, loyal customer base and are confident our products are among the best you can buy. It has inspired us to try out a few new flavour combinations though – you'll be able to see them on the menu at the new shop soon.
Get Mama Doreen's recipe for Earl Grey Cupcakes with a Taste of Pimms.
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