These days, you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who isn’t a fan of The Great British Bake Off.
Something about the gentle, kindly nature of the show, and its judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, serves as the perfect antithesis to the veritable glut of talent shows that dominate the schedules with their frequently barbed, scathing comments which seem designed to give contestants a nervous breakdown.
Things never get too personal in the safety of the Bake Off kitchen, and although Paul has been known to set the odd bottom lip wobbling when he’s deemed a bake too uneven or a bottom too soggy, on the whole his and Mary’s criticisms are well received – after all, they are experts in their field.
So, there are few pairings better placed to offer a masterclass on baking than these two. They gave us a helping hand last Christmas when they provided top tips on everything from perfect puds to mega mince pies, and now they’re back to help us cope with the trials and tribulations that Easter baking represents.
The kids are at home for a fortnight, and the grown-ups get a four-day weekend, so it’s the perfect time to get busy in the kitchen. However, there’s always a few pitfalls to avoid, as well as a few expert tips that really, if you’ll excuse the expression, put the icing on the cake – and here, Mary and Paul explain them all.
They give step-by-step instructions, including easy to follow demonstrations of some of their favourite seasonal recipes, giving us all the best possible chance of replicating their successes. Among the treats on offer are perfect hot cross buns, without which no Easter would truly be complete.
Another traditional treat for the time of year is simnel cake, a light fruitcake traditionally enjoyed after Lent, for which the pair have a sumptuous recipe. So far, so good, but this is Easter – where is the chocolate? Well, there’s a guide to creating delicious chocolate custard tarts – perfect for using up any spare bits of Easter Eggs that may be lying around (although that’s not usually too much of an issue for many households), while a zingy lemon meringue nest serves as the perfect accompaniment to the rich cuisine on offer.
With all these sweet treats to sample, one might be worried about piling on the pounds – but you only have to look at Mary to know that striking a balance isn’t impossible.
As she told the Guardian recently, “It’s all about things in moderation. I do eat a good portion all the way through the Bake Off – because they’ve taken the trouble to make something, their parents are watching, and they want to see me have a proper slice. The next day I’m pretty careful. I do try to eat lots of salads and healthy foods. But cakes are healthy too – you just eat a thin slice. There’s a lot of cheer in a cake.”
BBC2, Tuesday, 8pm