Mary Berry says lemon drizzle is her favourite cake, ‘clean eating’ is not on her list, she was right over ‘ragu-gate’ , and the company you’re with is far more important than the food you’re eating.
I went to see her talk about her latest book, Mary Berry Everyday, being interviewed by the Times food editor, Tony Turnbull.
The success of the Bake Off
The key to the Bake Off’s success, said Mary, was that it was absolutely genuine and everyone was honest. There was a very ethical process for picking the bakers and everyone on it had a passion for baking.
There was very little swearing and very rarely tears and she said while it will be different on Channel 4 – it will still be very good.
‘On the Bake Off my job was to encourage the bakers as no one wants someone like me criticising them – I never wanted any tears on the programme or to put people off,’ she said.
When it comes to co-judge Paul Hollywood, she said he was very knowledgeable, especially about bread, and although they didn’t always get on, that was good for the show.
On clean eating and cooking from scratch
Mary says the clean eating trend is ‘right off my list’ and advises people to seek out specialist chefs when looking for recipes with dietary requirements as she focusses more on mainstream recipes.
‘It’s the excessive eating that doesn’t do us any good,’ she said, and children eating a rock cake, a small slice of cake or little piece of shortbread isn’t a bad thing.
‘It’s cheaper to make things from scratch and you know what’s in the food’ she said.
‘Children don’t always need to know the science behind the food they make’ and it would be more important for them to be taught how to make 10 different meals at school.
The famous fist pump
This year photos of Mary hit the front pages after she won the judge of the year award in the National Television Awards and celebrated with a fist pump.
Up against Len Goodman and Simon Cowell , she said it was completely unexpected and said ‘it’s so unlike me’, my husband when he saw it said ‘what were you up to?’ but she did admit that being competitive is a good thing.
On never having a takeaway
Mary admitted on her new TV show recently that she’s never had a takeaway because it ‘doesn’t really fit into my way of thinking’ but she did say when she visits her family she’ll often have one as a treat and is a big fan of Pizza Express and the two for £10 M&S dining deals.
Mary’s verdict on ‘ragu-gate’
In her latest programme, Mary came under fire across Twitter for adding white wine and double cream to a ragu sauce. When questioned about this, she said with that recipe she took advice from the Italians, and Elizabeth David, and says she thinks she was right.
Her next TV show
Despite recently turning 82, when asked if she’ll ever slow down she said ‘taking life easier would be extremely boring for me’.
In the autumn her new TV programme will be on air when she takes a look behind the door of four different stately homes across the country, talking to the families about how they cook and eat.
Mary then took a selection of questions from the audience…
What’s the best tip for baking success?
Get some digital scales, a mixer also helps and you can pick up a handheld whisk for £15 in a local supermarket.
What are the easiest things to make with children?
With children make some kind of bun such as butterfly cakes or something they can decorate with icing and sprinkles which will tempt them.
Where do you shop?
For evening dresses, I often choose Adrianna Papell, but also I like Zara, Phase 8 and M&S – I’m a high street person.
I used to have a hot water bottle under my blazers on the bake off because it often got very cold in the tent.
How do you feel about the new presenters on Bake Off?
I’m delighted Prue Leith has taken over on GBBO she has a lot of knowledge and the right personality.
What dish would your family associate with you?
My family love ‘Granny’s fish pie’ so would most associate that dish with me.
What’s the secret to your success?
I love what I do, and like to use new ingredients, I remember when avocado was eaten with custard.
What did you cook for Delia Smith when she came to stay?
When Delia and her husband came to stay with me I have no idea what I cooked her, it’s more about the company than the food.
Do you have any favourite cookery writers?
I can’t think of any cookery writer I’m not a fan of, we’re a pretty friendly group and we all get on.
What country’s food do you most like to cook?
British food is my favourite, I’m very proud to be British, and I think we should use as much local food as possible.
With scones, do you put the cream on first and then the jam?
I think I put the cream first and then the jam – but you can do whatever you want.
The best way to decorate a wedding cake?
It’s a very personal decision, for mine I used fresh roses from my garden but everyone thought I had used sugar flowers.
I’m more into crystallising fresh flowers rather than making them with sugar craft.
My favourite tipple is a glass of white wine but it has to be really cold. I have one every night and sometimes I can see my husband pouring me one when I pull into the drive.
And number one cake?
My favourite cake is a lemon drizzle.