Rowan Great British Bake Off 2023: Meet Bake Off superfan from West Yorkshire who was inspired to apply for new series of Channel 4 baking show by Scarborough vegan baker Freya Cox

Great British Bake Off series 14 started in September with 12 new contestants - including Yorkshire baker Rowan who was inspired to apply by Scarborough vegan Freya Cox.

Rowan, who will be the youngest contestant to compete on the Channel 4 show, will join 11 other contestants in the tent this year.

ITV’s This Morning host Alison Hammond will join Noel Fielding this year as a co-host of the show, replacing Matt Lucas who left last year.

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Bake Off judges Dame Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood returned to the show last week to critique the new group of bakers vying for the winning spot this year.

Rowan on GBBO series 14. (Pic credit: Channel 4)Rowan on GBBO series 14. (Pic credit: Channel 4)
Rowan on GBBO series 14. (Pic credit: Channel 4)

As always, every week will see bakers create three exceptional bakes; a signature bake, a technical task and a show-stopper. Each week will also have a theme from the classics: Bread, cake and biscuit week, however, new additions introduced this year will be chocolate, botanicals and party bakes.

The next episode of the Great British Bake Off airs on Tuesday, October 3, 2023 at 8pm on Channel 4.

Here is everything we know so far about Rowan, the West Yorkshire contestant competing on the show.

Who is Rowan from Great British Bake Off series 14?

GBBO bakers for series 14. (Pic credit: Channel 4)GBBO bakers for series 14. (Pic credit: Channel 4)
GBBO bakers for series 14. (Pic credit: Channel 4)
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Rowan, 21, from West Yorkshire, is an English Literature university student whose motto is ‘go big, or go home’. In his early baking days, he made scones, pork pies, shortbread and traditional jam tarts, claiming these to be a northern delicacy.

When he is not writing, Rowan is also a keen host, applying his creative eye to his cooking and aims for clean lines and thoughtful decoration in his finished bakes.

He is also skilled at making cocktails and expresses his grand, opulent side in his bakes, impressing his university friends with his creations. He also made his own 21st birthday cake: a three-tier, 12-layer extravaganza.

He prides himself at being the youngest of contestants in series 14. He is also a Bake Off superfan, having watched every single series of the show since it started.

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“Being the youngest baker in the tent this year, I have the ability to flaunt my youth and let everyone know that I was only eight when the first episode of Bake Off aired,” he said.

“After watching each series without fail, I knew that one of my life goals would be to bake in that tent.

“Getting the call to say I had achieved that dream, I did the only thing appropriate - I slid to the floor, screamed down the phone and ran to the shops for a bottle of prosecco, all before getting back to join the group wash-up in my uni house. Classy.”

This former Bake Off contestant was an inspiration to Rowan.

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“I remember vividly Mary-Ann from series two, who baked with such warmth and care,” he said.

“More recently, I was inspired by both Henry Bird and Freya Cox, both uni students with the most infectious personalities.

“They had such skill, so many jokes and just a great vibe which encouraged me to apply whilst still studying.

“All the bakers became fast friends, so to stand in the tent ready to bake with some incredible people when Alison chuffing Hammond walked towards the tent, a laugh as warm as the ovens themselves, was a moment I’ll never forget. I literally melted down my bench.”

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When asked what cake he would make that would represent his happiest moment in life, Rowan said: “It would probably be a sugar depiction of my uni house and I, ready to host our friends for the night.

“The calm before the storm is always better than the storm itself, and we love to predict how the night will go over a vodka or three. Picture that, only in cake form.”

Rowan also described the craziest show-stopper he would make: “I am obsessed with TV writers and actors like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Julia Davis, Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley and the late Caroline Aherne, so I would probably make a cake television with the DVD’s of each of their shows stacked alongside it.

“An ode to the people who have inspired me along the way, and those who have probably let me see the humour in anything.

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“My personality doesn’t allow me to do things in halves, so as a baker I can’t help but create dazzling, unique creations.

“You want a birthday cake? Have a wedding cake. You want a celebratory croquembouche? I’ll make you 12 of them. That kind of thing. Perhaps it’s also my weakness, on top of getting too flustered when I inadvertently bite off more than I can chew.”

Rowan also describes his first reaction when meeting Alison and Noel, walking into the tent for the first time and a fact about being in the tent that he wasn’t aware of from watching the series previously.

“Oh my gosh it was everything and more,” he said.

“Alison has a way of making everyone feel like an old friend of hers, and Noel has a wit which instantly connects him with you.

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“I barely remember anything I said or did with them during the first week because you just speak like you would with a friend. Not to mention you’re under timed conditions trying to whip up the best thing since sliced bread.

“My reaction [when seeing the tent for the first time] was slightly unconventional: ‘It looks like the great pyramids of Giza- just with slightly less history’.

“It’s true, the peaks of the tent do loom over the countryside and fashion themselves as an artefact of British tele. But when you walk in and locate your bench, you sort of have an out-of-body experience.

“The whole thing’s very meta, somehow you feel like you’ve been here already. That’s the magic of TV.

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“I knew there would be a lot of crew members, but I didn’t expect them to become friends whilst there.

“They were as big a part of the experience as the baking was, and every single one of them helped us be the best versions of ourselves.

“From the runners who made the operation run as smoothly as possible to the producers who asked us questions at the most stressful times, they were the creme de la creme, and it's easy to forget just how magnificent these TV wizards are.”

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