Great British Baking Show Contestant Dawn Hollyoak Has Died

Dawn Hollyoak, a 2022 contestant on the "Great British Baking Show," has passed away at the age of 61. The news was shared on her Instagram page on July 5, with a photo of Hollyoak. The caption reads "It's with a heavy heart we announce the passing of our star baker Dawn." The post continued, "Dawn passed away peacefully surrounded by her family. We will miss her forever, but promise to continue her baking legacy!"

Friends, fans, and fellow contestants of the British baking show-turned-Netflix phenomenon have shared their condolences on the post. Competition judge and former bread company owner Paul Hollywood wrote that Hollyoak was "a lovely lady," while 2021 bake-off winner Giuseppe Dell'Anno shared, "I only met Dawn once, but I was blown away by her joyous personality and her infectious smile. She will be sorely missed."

After leaving the occasionally controversial series in Episode 6 during Halloween Week, Hollyoak remained involved in the baking community on social media and beyond. She earned a fandom of over 10,000 followers on Instagram and appeared at several events, such as food festivals, around the U.K. In 2023, she hosted her first three-day solo baking class at Etonbury Academy, where she taught a group of bakers to make bread, vegetable quiche, and a Paris brest. Per an Instagram post at the time, fellow GBBS contestant Carole Edwards made a virtual appearance during the class.

Her journey to the baking tent wasn't the most traditional

Hailing from Bedfordshire, England, Dawn Hollyoak credited her grandmother with showing her how to bake. "I used to go to her every Sunday, and she would teach me how to make pastry, and how to make Yorkshire puddings," Hollyoak reminisced in a YouTube interview with Hardie Party of Five And A Half. "She taught me the very, very basics of baking from when I was really young." Although she admitted that she fell out of love with the craft for a time, Hollyoak said that after her children grew up and left home, leaving her with a bit more time on her hands, baking became "a complete obsession." A short bio shared on the Facebook page of "The Great British Bake Off" revealed that Hollyoak loved "the challenge of an illusion cake (the more impossible-sounding, the better), favoring whacky (sic) and intricate designs that allow her to express her creative talent."

As for how she eventually made her way to the cult-favorite competition show, she explained in the aforementioned interview that she had applied to the show "lots of times before" but finally got a call-back for the 2022 season. The audition process involved completing baking challenges over Zoom: "The one bit is they couldn't taste it, so it might have tasted terrible." Of course, that surely wasn't the case for Hollyoak. She established herself as a beloved contestant on the series, calling it "the most positive experience you can have in a tent."