CHAMPION baker Mary Berry has to be one of my all-time heroes.
With her no-nonsense approach, she reminds me of one of my former domestic science (it wasn’t called food technology back in my day) teachers who regularly reminded us “cool hands for pastry, girls” as we slipped on our starched, white aprons. In a recent interview the Doyenne of the Devonshire scone has spoken of the therapeutic qualities of baking: “Can there be anything more comforting than being in your kitchen with a cake in the Aga, the smell of vanilla wafting through the house and your children jostling to lick the baking bowl?” she says. Absolutely. In the same interview she opens her heart about the tragedy of her son, William dying in a car accident at the age of 19 and how after the initial shock, she knew she had to carry on for the sake of her other children. Getting back to baking was the only way she knew to regain some kind of normality in her life. Anyone who has ever stirred a wooden spoon in a baking bowl will know the satisfaction it can bring. There’s the pleasure of creating something, of seeing your results and at seeing the appreciation on the faces of family and friends. It doesn’t matter if your Victoria sponge is a little bit sunken in the middle or if your maids of honour are lop-sided. This week I had the pleasure of spending a morning with Bob ‘The Baker’ Thompson of Sainsbury’s, Halifax, who first learned his craft at his Gran’s kitchen table. Watching him work confirmed my belief: with something home-made, there’s love in every mouthful.