Why has Britain Gone Baking Mad?
After the finale of this year's The Great British Bake Off pulled in over 8 million viewers, it seems everyone is dusting off their apron and trying their hand at creating their own masterpiece. We asked two baking bloggers why they think baking so enjoyable and why does it keep growing in popularity?
She Cooks She Eats
Amy Jones, 23, London
Melanie, 25, London
|Amy is a researcher for a digital media company and started baking three years ago. She regularly updates her blog She Cooks She Eats with unique recipes. Amy finds baking both fun and relaxing: "Some people go for a run, I bake."||Melanie, a senior family support worker, also began baking three years ago, and created her blog Dinner Therapy to encourage her to explore exciting new recipes. She also attends a cake club in Putney, South London. She says: "Baking is fun, challenging and can give you a great deal of confidence."|
Baking is Part of a Great Tradition
Amy Jones, editor of the food blog She Cooks She Eats, says: "Baking is a very traditional activity, which TV shows like The Great British Bake Off represent. There is often history to baking recipes. I think it's nice to bake a recipe which is 100 years old, and really play into that tradition."
She started baking about three years ago, and began blogging to keep recipes together and share her creations with others.
"I love creating recipes which other people can enjoy. People will often send me photos of meals they've made from things they've seen on my blog, which can be really rewarding," she adds.
As well as stirring up nostalgia and comforting feelings, baking has started to take on a more modern form.
Melanie Rodger, creator of the food blog Dinner Therapy, says: "People like the retro, nostalgic trend because it's very popular at the moment and offers that warm feeling, but baking can also have a contemporary twist with the techniques people are using."
She started baking in 2010. After getting married, Melanie found herself making the same old boring meals she cooked as a student. So she started the blog to encourage her to try out new recipes.
"I also wanted lots of people to see that trying out new recipes is not a difficult thing to do and can actually be quite fun," she says.
Melanie attends her local baking club in Putney. She continues: "When I was at school doing food technology I was absolutely awful at baking, which knocked my confidence a bit. But this January my friend started the club, so we meet once a month with something we've baked according to the theme. That really got me thinking and challenged me to try and make new things."
Recession has Boosted our Love of Baking
Both bloggers believe the recession may have had an impact on the increase in home baking.
Amy says: "It's less expensive to make a cake than it is to buy one. Baking is also a cheaper form of entertainment. Baking a loaf of bread will take about four hours, which is much cheaper than, say, going to the cinema twice."
Pictured above: Amy's Malteser Cake. "This Malteser cake is one of my favourite recipes - I've made it for birthday parties, charity auctions, and to celebrate the end of exams with a friend. It's easy to make and you don't need any special equipment — just a bowl, a spoon and a saucepan. Both the icing and the cake have a combination of chocolate and malt flavours, so it tastes like a Malteser through and through." (Link to recipe)
Melanie agrees that with more people staying indoors, we're more likely to get back to basics and explore traditional home activities.
"The recession and people staying indoors more has certainly played into the trend. Making a cake costs about a third of the price of buying one, and turning up to a party with a cake or dessert you've made is much nicer than bringing something in a box that you've bought."
She also points out that baking gives people a sense of accomplishment.
"Providing you pick the right recipe, baking is quite easy and it gives you a real sense of achievement. After I've made a cake I'll often think oh wow, I made that - it's a nice surprise."
Anyone Can Bake
No matter what your age, gender, or cooking expertise, anyone can give baking a bash. It can also be a fun family activity, says Amy.
"My boss has a two-year-old daughter and his wife bakes with her all the time. Children enjoy baking as it keeps them occupied and can be an easy activity even as a young child. Teaching children to bake and cook gives them a respect for food. Kids are notorious for not trying new things, but if they've made something themselves, they're more likely to want to try it."
Melanie adds: "Being a successful baker is all about practice. It's only when I started practising more at home that I realised I could actually bake. Of course certain techniques are difficult to master, but basic baking is pretty accessible for most people."
Pictured above: Melanie's Grasshopper Cake. "I made this for Putney Bake Club's February meeting, themed Spring Has Sprung. It's a chocolate sponge with mint flavoured buttercream filling and icing, decorated with sugar flowers and chocolate fingers. I made the icing with dairy-free spread, as I find it makes the best buttercream. I used a handheld mixer for this one and baked it in a round sandwich tin." (Link to recipe)
Practice Makes Perfect
Baking can be a fun activity which anyone can enjoy, particularly with the winter evenings drawing in. It's a good idea to practice your baking before offering your creations as gifts. Both Melanie and Amy have baking disaster stories to share.
Melanie laughs: "When we got married, we got lots of people make their own cakes - so I decided to join in and bake some myself. Unfortunately mine were so terrible they looked like a small child had decorated them. I had to pretend I hadn't made any, because they were too awful to show anybody - particularly compared to the others people had made, which looked really professional."
Amy says: "It was my parents' 25th wedding anniversary was last year. They wanted a two-tiered sheet cake. I didn't bother practising because I'd had a lot of experience with baking. I bought a brand new tin, which I hadn't worked with before.
"The first cake fell apart as soon as I took it out of the tin. The second cake refused to cook - it was in the oven for twice as long as it should have been, and was still a sloppy mess. I started again and the third cake was in for half the time that the recipe said. It was literally black - I tried cutting into it and it was just ash. To make matters worse, I was making this on the day of the party. In the end we nipped to the supermarket and bought an anniversary cake, because my baking just went completely wrong."
Even the most experienced bakers can slip up from time to time, but with a little practice your sweet treats will be perfect.
Baking Christmas Wish List
We asked Amy and Melanie what's on their baking Christmas wish list this year?
Amy says: "A wider variety of tins. It's really important to have the right size tin to suit what you're baking. If you're following a pastry recipe for an 8-inch tin but actually using a 10-inch tin, the pastry will probably be too thin, causing it to break."
"It might sound quite simple, but I'd really like some mini tartlet tins. My husband hates quiche, so I never want to make a massive portion and the mini tins are really handy for this. I would also really like one of the snazzy stand mixers. They're a great thing to have because you can just chuck all your ingredients in," says Melanie.
With a little practice and the right equipment, going baking mad can be an easy, affordable, and fun activity - join the craze today.
This piece was written by Go Electrical, who offer a wide range of home appliances, including baking appliances.