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Kiran Jethwa hopes 'Great Kenyan Bake Off' will inspire the nation to bake

The GKBO judge wants to champion the African continent. He tells us...

22 August 2021 - 00:02 By hilary biller
GKBO judge, Kiran Jethwa.
GKBO judge, Kiran Jethwa.
Image: Supplied

I was born in Kenya to an Indian father and English mother and studied hospitality management at the University of Manchester in the UK. I began working in restaurant kitchens and fell in love with the environment and the industry.

I recall a pineapple upside-down cake my mother used to make when I was growing up and it takes me straight back to my childhood. She's very good at it and still makes it today.

The stand-out bake — we've just filmed the second season of GKBO — was made by a lady, Adeline, a medical student, who made a colourful gingerbread Thai temple.

It was quite spectacular, I marvelled at it, the attention to detail. The worst thing I've tasted on GKBO
so far had to be the brownie challenge. They butchered it, I even ate a brownie soup.

Can one spot a winner at the start of a series? I think what one can do is pick out a couple of finalists, the winner not. It's often the baker who starts off badly who is the winner, stumbling through just managing to stay in the competition, then they suddenly find their feet and jump out of nowhere.

Our goal of the GKBO is to inspire the nation to bake. Kenyans love cakes and sweet things. There's definitely something brewing in the country, a really big movement behind baking is taking place.

We are definitely a step behind SA when it comes to baking, although I hate to admit it, but there's a serious interest growing in the country.

WATCH | The 'Great Kenyan Bake Off' season 1 trailer.

The most classic sweet in Kenya is the mandazi, a Kenyan doughnut, a triangle of leavened dough that is deep-fried. Depending in which part of the country you are there are different spices added to the doughnut, like cardamon and ginger.

Kenyans love a good Black Forest gateau and red velvet cakes; you'll find those everywhere.

The GKBO reflects the warmth of the Kenyan people — there's lots of singing, dancing, warmth and humour — it's a very entertaining show. We must champion the African continent and it's good to watch another part of Africa doing great things.

• Watch it on BBC Lifestyle, Channel 174, Wednesdays at 8pm