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King of Cake praises Manchester university degree for powering him to Great British Bake Off crown

By Dean Wilkins

Newly crowned King of Baking John Whaite claimed that studying for his law degree at the University of Manchester helped him snatch the Great British Bake Off crown.

The 23-year-old law graduate raced back-and-forth between exams, studying and baking to earn a first-class degree as well as winning the BBC Two hit-show and claimed that organisation for exams is what helped him win.

The surprise champion from Wigan beat off tough competition in an all-male final and cooked a puff pastry pie, fondant fancies and chiffon sponges in the final round to earn the Cake King title.

“If I hadn’t been in the middle of the degree I’m not sure I would have won,” he said.

“It meant I had to be organised and know what I needed for the exam and what I needed for baking and it helped me concentrate. I don’t think I’d have got such a good grade without Bake Off.

“It was tough though. I finished one exam on a Friday and went to Bristol to film the semi-final before getting home late on Sunday in time for another exam on Monday.”

Presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins and judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have grabbed the nation by storm – outshining BBC One’s Holby City after drawing in an audience of 5.6million.

And Mr Whaite – whose kooky inventions included a gingerbread Roman Colosseum – hailed his boyfriend Paul for helping him cook his way to victory.

Last week it pulled in 5.6 million viewers, beating Holby City on BBC1, and has sparked a baking revival and has its own line of official merchandise.

He said: “He’s a graphic designer, he does birthday cards and I do the cakes. With the Colosseum he drew up a template on the computer so that was a team effort”.

The show has propelled Mr Whaite into the public’s eye and has seen him being stopped in the streets for autographs and pictures – he now plans to release a baking recipe book and swap law school for a career in cooking.

“The strangest one was in the swimming pool,” he said. “I was doing a length and had just come up to rearrange my goggles and my trunks and this man stopped and said ‘Are you John Whaite from Bake Off?’

“I was so surprised I nearly drowned.”

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