"I BAKE TO KEEP CONNECTED TO MY LATE MUM"
Stuart Green, 37, a business development manager, from Wolverhampton
"As a kid, baking was thrust upon me. My mum was always handing me a bowl and asking me to mix, beat or stir, while all I wanted to do was go outside and play football. But the skills I'd learnt as a youngster never left me, and when I met my wife Michelle, 34, I picked it up again.
There's nothing I love more than getting creative in the kitchen. My day job is all about crunching numbers and negotiating deals, so it's nice to explore the other side of my personality.
I even took a night class in sugar craft and learned how to make beautiful edible flowers. I was the only bloke there and, after the women tried my brownies, I got three marriage proposals!
Michelle refuses to watch The Great British Bake Off with me. She says I spoil it for her because I'm always shouting at the TV, telling the contestants that they're doing it wrong. But I'm a big Paul Hollywood fan, so I record the show and watch it alone. Next year, I'll definitely be applying to go on.
My crowning glory was a four-tier wedding cake with ivory icing, ribbon and two-tone roses. Michelle photographs all my cakes and puts them on my Facebook page – Green's Cake Creations.
Baking is a generational thing and I'm passing the skills down to my 17-year-old daughter, Chloe-Ann.
Three years ago, I lost my mum to cancer, but I know she would have been proud. For me, baking has become a way of keeping connected with her."
"THERE'S NOTHING LIKE CAKE TO CHEER A FRIEND UP"
Mike Hawkes, 27, a content marketing manager from London
"I used to hate cooking, and my diet was pretty bad. I had to teach myself how to cook because I wanted to be healthier.
My girlfriend at the time was really into cakes, so I spent time looking up recipes. I would bake and she would decorate. I started off with cookies and biscuits five years ago, then I branched out into more complicated bakes.
My friends love that I'm always giving them cakes. I'd be a lot bigger if I didn't share them out! My signature bake is a cranberry and orange loaf – it was one of the first things I learned to bake and I give them to my family at Christmas.
A few years ago, my friend was feeling really down, so I baked her a cake and posted it to her, to cheer her up. Then, when another friend was going through a hard time, I did the same thing.
This has snowballed, and now I'm setting up a business called Cake Care Package. People will be able to order biscuits, cookies and brownies to post to their pals and perk them up.
I never watch TV, but I always catch Bake Off. Being a baker, I'm always thinking, 'Oh, could I do that?'
While I'll happily spend hours waiting for something to rise, I get itchy feet when it comes to decorating. But it's worth persevering, and I always post recipes and pictures of my achievements on my blog – The Bearded Bakery."
"I MADE MY OWN WEDDING CAKE"
Tom Shurrock, 29, a project manager from Oxford
"Some of the earliest pictures my parents have are of me covered in flour, holding a rolling pin.
My mum is a fantastic cook and taught me everything I know. I got my passion for cooking from her and she still sends me recipes to try out every week.
Baking is very therapeutic and I love having Netflix on in the background so I can zone out – it's an almost Zen-like experience.
Six-layered rainbow cakes are my favourite thing to bake. I always make them for my wife Emma's birthday and for her friends. Whenever anyone's birthday is coming up, you'll find me in the kitchen.
Last month, when I got hitched, I decided to make my own wedding cake. After using 40 eggs, it was a four-tiered cake covered in hundreds and thousands and it took three ushers to move it!
Looking back, it was a little crazy to have that additional stress on my wedding day, but it went down well with the guests – and the wife!
There's nothing I love more than watching Bake Off, but I'd be too scared to go on. You'd need a degree in engineering as well as being a dab hand in the kitchen!"
"I LOVE MAKING CAKES - BUT NOT EATING THEM!"
Sam Westover, 25, an energy consultant from Essex
"Having a food tech teacher for a mum really sparked my love for baking. She was always encouraging me, and I owe all my basic kitchen knowledge to her.
Last year, I made a birthday cake for a friend and have been making them for pals ever since.
I try never to make the same cake twice, but I could whip up a Victoria sponge with my eyes closed. It's fun to experiment, and I've used yoghurt and oil instead of butter and milk – it comes out really moist.
Unfortunately, my girlfriend, Steph, is a savoury girl, so I mainly bake for my friends. But when her sister turned 30, I made a three-tiered chocolate sponge with ganache and chocolate lacing.
Since I started watching Bake Off three years ago, I haven't missed a single episode. My friends nag me to go on the show. I enjoy baking but I don't want to make it competitive. That would take the fun out!
James Martin is my favourite celebrity cook and I've tried a fair few of his recipes.
Perhaps the strangest thing is that I don't love eating cake. It's more about the act of making it, rather than eating it."
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