Fire up your ovens! The Great British Bake Off returns

The wait is over - it's finally back! With 12 new contestants and a spin-off show

Sweetie-topped vanilla cupcakes

Bready or not, The Great British Bake Off ­returns to screens on Wednesday complete with its soggy bottoms, towering showstoppers and – no doubt – innuendos galore. Now in its fifth series, the much-loved show has moved to BBC One with second helpings in the form of a new spin-off show called An Extra Slice on BBC Two.

Every week presenter Jo Brand will shine a spotlight on that week’s episode with unseen footage and an interview with the eliminated baker in front of a studio audience.

‘I am absolutely delighted to have been asked to be part of An Extra Slice,’ says comedian Brand, who guest presented an episode of The Great Sport Relief Bake Off in January. ‘As someone who obviously loves cakes but also keeps a very strict eye on my figure and exercises assiduously to keep healthy, I hope I am a worthy candidate to represent the borough of baking.’

Victoria sponge with raspberry jam and buttercream

On the main show, 12 bakers will compete in the tent over 10 weeks to be crowned champ by the judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. This year they include the youngest and oldest contestants yet, with ages ranging from 17 to 69.

The first episode will see them tackle Swiss roll in the signature challenge, Berry’s cherry cake recipe in the ­technical challenge and 36 classic British­ cake miniatures in the showstopper on day two.

Jammy dodgers

Presented by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, the programme is credited with reinvigorating baking in Britain. It has grown in popularity from series one in 2010, watched by an average of 2.8 million viewers, to an average audience of 7 million in series four in 2013. A mammoth 8.4 million watched Frances Quinn crowned winner last year. The format has also whipped up excitement overseas. It has been sold to 13 countries including Australia, Italy and Denmark, where it is known as Den Store Bagedyst, which translates as The Great Baking Joust.

The Great British Bake Off is on Wednesdays at 8pm on BBC One with An Extra Slice airing afterwards at 9pm on BBC Two.  

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