My Love of Baking

When I started baking, whether I consider that to be as a child making tarts at Christmas, or as a young mother making a soggy bottomed quiche or overly thick pastry for a steak pie — I never actually thought much about what I was doing or how the ingredients interacted to produce the end result.

I did however think about how things tasted and would try to improve on texture, presentation and taste without the knowledge base or academic underpinning.

I have always considered myself to be a home baker and home cook but decided bread was too difficult so some 10 years or so ago I bought myself a bread machine.

I loved that machine and by using it religiously I understood the ingredients and the obvious time required to make a loaf. However, after a couple of years the machine started to get a bit tired the results became inconsistent and it was then that I decided to make it by hand. It was as this point I think that my true love of baking really started.

I have invested in many books which I have read cover to cover in the way that most people would read a novel and picked up tips and ideas from the internet — You Tube especially.

I have now an understanding across all disciplines and most of all I think I know what has gone wrong when something does go wrong — and things continue to go wrong. That, I think is one of the great things about baking — just when you think you have mastered something, you mess up.

Before I applied for Bake Off I would never in my wildest dreams consider writing a recipe of my own — why would I? Ingredients are expensive enough without winging it with them. However, from the outset recipe development and individuality were essential for the series.

It was at this time that I think I probably realised my potential because when under pressure it is amazing how capable we are! I had to write recipes, think about original flavour and a presentation style that would impress the national judges.

I was in my element.

I would start off with a blank canvas and an empty head!
I would lay awake at night and it is then that the ideas would start bouncing around. I found the only way to find sleep was to write all the ideas down and then revisit them the next day. Surprisingly I had indeed forgotten some of those thoughts and was only reminded when I read the notes again.

Pastry I think is my favourite. Made properly it melts in the mouth and has a depth of flavour and enhances both sweet and savoury dishes. Cakes — well who doesn’t like cake? and the possibilities with flavour, fillings and decoration are endless.
Bread as a staple to our diet is fundamental, cheap to make and a handmade loaf is far better tasting than any shop bought version.
Biscuits — some may say life is too short to be bothered to make biscuits but they are a favourite with children — easy to make, not messy, quick and can be decorated. Personally I like a savoury biscuit with a piece of local cheese — nothing better!

Finally, my love of baking I hope will be transferred to my children and grandchildren and if that is how I will be remembered — I will be a very happy lady!