12-Year-Old Wows Judges With Malaysian Heritage On British TV Show 'Junior Bake Off'
A 12-year-old from Manchester, UK has been using her unique Malaysian heritage to wow judges on Britain's competitive baking show Junior Bake Off, recently seeing her through to the finals
The young baker, Aisya Syahrul, has been consistently winning over judges – British baker and TV presenter Liam Charles and British pastry chef and author Ravneet Gill – on the spin-off of popular Channel 4 series The Great British Bake Off.
The programme sees 16 participants, aged 9 to 15, baking head to head in the show's seventh season that aired on 10 January.
Cruising through the early heats, Aisya will now be competing with seven other finalists in 'Finals Week', where one of them will be crowned Junior Bake Off champion.
There's no grand cash prize for winning the show. However, the winner will take home a glass trophy cake stand and the honour of being named the best of the season.
As the contestants compete in a series of Technical Bakes and Showstopper Challenges using their own original recipes, the young chef has stood out for her attention to detail and Malaysian roots
In her first biscuit challenge, Aisya, who says she wants to follow her father's footsteps in medicine, created an 'About Me' biscuit box that was decorated with hibiscus flowers.
In another episode, where participants had to create a personalised family crest pie in two hours, she used Malaysian curry powder to make a chicken, potato, and peas filling, before adorning her pie crust with both the Jalur Gemilang and Union Jack on top.
However, most memorably, for the challenge called 'Dessert Imposter' in episode nine, Aisya created a chocolate cake with a realistic-looking serving of chicken satay on top, complete with the looks of a banana leaf, sliced onions and cucumber, and sauce.
In a clip, she explained that the 'satay' is actually cookie dough that is meant to be eaten with the deceptive-looking caramel sauce sprinkled with real peanuts.
The judges said her cake was "very clever", "looks classic and gorgeous", and they were also impressed with its overall taste. For this, she was made 'Star Baker' for the episode.
The schoolgirl, who is the oldest of three siblings, said she learned cooking from her mother and grandmother
On her baker's profile, Aisya said her earliest baking memories are with her mother, who taught her how to make Malaysian curry puffs.
She also said she enjoys using Malaysian flavours and ingredients in her baking and picks up tips from her grandmother in Malaysia who she video calls often.
According to an interview by Channel 4, as quoted by New Straits Times, she said she applied for Junior Bake Off because she wanted to showcase her talents and have her baking judged by Charles and Ravneet.
"I wanted my bakes to have been tasted from a professional point of view so that I could get better feedback and become a better baker," said the precocious 12-year-old.
Aisya will be competing in 'Finals Week' that began on Monday, 24 January, and will culminate in a showdown on Friday, 28 January.
Earlier this month, an Ipoh-born chef won MasterChef UK's New Year's Eve special with two well-known Malaysian dishes:
The last time Malaysia made an appearance on the show, contestants were expected to make Sarawak kek lapis: