AN Essex Geography teacher has captured the nation’s hearts on Britain’s biggest cooking show.

Alice McFarlane, 28 has been in love with baking since she was 15, after a back operation left her no longer able to do sports.

A decade after first seeing the show, she is now showing off her skills on Channel 4’s Great British Bake Off.

She said: “I have wanted to be in Bake Off ever since the show has started, but I wasn’t really good enough when I was 18.

“To be on such a big show doing something that you are passionate about is a huge thing.

“I also felt that to be accepted into the tent gave me the confidence to feel that I could bake.

“It was a dream come true.”

Alice’s parents previously owned the Serenity Dental Surgery in Station Road throughout her childhood in Burnham on the north Essex coast.

In her early 20s, Alice moved to New Zealand where she lived for a number of years while studying at art school.

After returning to the UK, she trained to become a Geography teacher, and now living in East London, she even uses cake in her lessons to demonstrate to her pupils coastal erosion and the effects of volcanic activity.

Throughout this time she has perfected her “highly decorative” craft.

The famous judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith have been impressed with Alice’s performances so far and she won the coveted Star Baker award for her biscuits in the second week.

Describing the moment she first walked into the tent, Alice said: “Walking into the tent for the first time was incredible.

“Your eyes are seeing it but your brain is not quite understanding what is happening to you.

“It was so exciting.”

Ahead of the series starting for another year, Alice had to keep her TV stardom secret from her family and friends.

Speaking about the period before it was revealed she was on the show, she said: “I missed a family event for the show, so hopefully they now understand why and were pretty surprised.”

The Great British Bake Off is on Channel 4 on Tuesday nights starting at 8pm.