Happy world baking day one and all!
I’ve been celebrating by baking a banana bread today for work tomorrow. It’s from the Clandestine Cake Club book, one of new fave recipes. Simple and long-lasting (not that it ever does – gets gobbled up pretty quick!).
On Friday I announced that the next Bake Off will be Saturday October 5th at Oxford High School in Summertown! So excited already! The staff at the school have been so generous in giving us use of their beautiful school hall and are letting us pull out all the stops to make sure we can make it an unforgetable event!
This weekend I wanted to share an interview with Annie Bell, who was one of the lovely judges from last year. I honestly couldn’t believe my luck when Annie agreed to be one of my Mary Berry’s. She really is such a talented food writer, and I was honoured that she was part of the event in it’s very first year.
Annie began her cookery career at Vogue in the 1990s and went on to work for The Independent and has been principal cookery writer for the Mail’s ‘You’ magazine, as well as regular contributions to Waitrose Kitchen, Sainsbury’s magazine and The Telegraph Magazine. On top of that she has written many bestselling books, including the Gorgeous series, The Camping Cookbook, Soup Glorious Soup and most recently Annie Bell’s Baking Bible.
For Annie, good food is all about taking something simple and doing it well. Her experience juggling motherhood and a successful career has given her inspiration, and need, to create recipes that are “emminetly do-able and enhance rather than crampt your day”.
“With two children, a career and no nanny, the average day regularly feels like a tailspin. So all the recipes have been put through their paces at a personal level. There is no ‘Team Annie’, I get great pleasure out of doing all the testing myself, and as such am a small artisanal concern.” ~ Annie.
When I met Annie in March last year, I found she really is a woman of her word. She judged the ‘Big Cake’ category, and picked the cakes that had taste over all else. At the end of the day even if a cake looks good enough to eat you still want it to be good enough to eat.
What stood out in the winning entry?
Annie: It was a simple chocolate cake cooked to perfection.
What top tips do you have for this year’s contestants?
+ You should always make the quality of the cake the main consideration and decoration the second.
+ Choose decorations that will be good to eat as well as look at.
+ Practice what you’re doing in advance, and write down how you’ve done it, with reminders for what you should do next time.
+ Test it’s shelf life too. Will it stand up to the journey, being made the day before and out of the fridge for the whole day?
Where do you look for inspiration?
Annie: My inspiration comes from any number of sources. It is whatever catches your eye or imagination, where you chance upon it. This could be strolling down a high street, watching a film, a secondhand book shop, a meal in a restaurant…
What piece of baking equiptment couldn’t you live without?
Annie: My magimix!
What are you loving baking at the moment?
Annie: I am very into middisippi mud pie, so are my sons! It’s outrageously indulgent, fab!
Thanks to Annie for chatting with me. She’s also kindly donated a copy of her latest book, Annie Bell’s Baking Bible, to help with our fundraising efforts at this year’s event! Such a lovely thing to do.
I’ll be announcing this year’s panels of judges very soon.