Great British Baking Show winner Syabira prided herself on ‘putting Malaysia on the map’ with her cakes

Baker Syabira Brushing Tart, The Great British Bake Off S6

Baker Syabira Brushing Tart, The Great British Bake Off S6

Mark Bourdillon / Love Productions

Syabira Yusoff is proud to be the newest Great British Baking Show champion.

On November 17, the Netflix-distributed series released the season finale and named Syabira Yusoff the winner, marking the first time a Malaysian-born contestant has won the show.

“It feels surreal and amazing at the same time. I came to the store with the mindset to get by on a weekly basis,” she tells PEOPLE. “Finishing in the final and winning is the best result I could imagine.”

Judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood relied on Yusoff’s baking skills throughout the season. Known for her use of bold and innovative flavors, she won the Star Pastry Chef category three times and received a coveted Hollywood handshake during Halloween week. Throughout the season, she worked to fuse British classics with traditional Malaysian flavours.

“I’m very proud to have put Malaysia on the map in terms of baking,” she says. “I loved sharing my insights and passion for integrating traditional Malaysian flavors into my bakes. I was proud of every bake I brought to the table.”

What makes Yusoff’s win even more impressive? She’s fairly new to baking, only taking up the hobby in 2017. Yusoff, a cardiovascular research associate who moved to London in 2013 to work on her PhD, turned to culinary arts as a creative outlet.

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“I started baking as a cure for the homesickness I felt when I moved to England. I fell in love with a piece of red velvet cake that I ate with my friends before I left Malaysia,” she says. “Living alone and trying to write hundreds of pages of scientific research in English is no walk in the park. So I tried to recreate that red velvet cake and found I could bake it. Since then, whenever I struggle or feel sad I go to the kitchen and bake.”

Looking at GBBS— known in the UK as The Great British Baking Contestit also inspired her to apply for the show. “I started looking bake out two or three years ago. I loved seeing what people created and began to wonder if I could do something similar. It’s a very positive show, and it was love at first sight for me,” she says.

His partner gave him the extra push he needed by “buying my first stand and hand mixer from his work bonus,” he added.

For Yusoff, learning to hone his craft meant marrying his passion for science with his newfound love of baking. “I treated baking as an experiment. I tried to understand what each ingredient contributes and the importance of temperature in emulsifying cake batter, tempering custard, or rising bread,” she says. Like other home chefs, she too learned by watching YouTube videos during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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The Great British Baking

The Great British Baking

Netflix

As for his favorite end product in the show’s tent, Yusoff says one in particular made his scientific mind shine.

“I love my sensational custard week, which I called ‘Piña Coladas, anyone?’ I brought it back to a simple flavor, but really tried to nail the flavor and texture. That’s when my lab skills came in handy,” she says. “Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain that eats away at the protein in the gelatin and ends up breaking down the custard. It took me a whole day in the kitchen to figure out how much starch to use to make sure it wasn’t too sticky and just enough gelatin to let it wobble”.

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As the 2022 winner, Yusoff learned that she loves to bake and be on camera. While she continues to do her work as a cardiovascular researcher, she is “very interested” in sharing her “ideas and aspirations for a cookbook, and basic baking skills.” [via a] YouTube channel.” Her future plans include growing her Instagram account and working on a book in her spare time.

In addition to inspiring confidence in his cooking skills, Yusoff made lasting friendships during the competition. “They are all my favorites in the tent. Janusz is one of them, as are Maxy and Kevin. We built relationships as the series went on,” he says of his fellow competitors. “We keep in touch through our WhatsApp group and I’m excited to see them every time we get together.”

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reflecting on her Great British Baking Show trip, Yusoff says it still feels like a dream.

“I never thought of winning bake out it was possible, at least not at my level of baking, before I won the show,” he says. “Each challenge has its own difficulty and requires new skills to master. In general, you just need to keep up and overcome the challenge of staying in the store. And I think all the bakers managed to rise to the challenges every time.”

The 2022 season and previous seasons of The Great British Baking Show they are now streaming on Netflix.

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