Mary Berry set to ‘save Christmas’ with new show and cooking tips
After the year we’ve had, national treasure Dame Mary Berry will turn teacher for new Christmas cookery show and she offers baking tips.
They call her the Queen of Baking and I suspect she might pull a bigger crowd than the Queen of anything else. I am talking, naturally, about Mary Berry – the darling of TV baking shows.
Dame Mary Berry is set to save Christmas with her new BBC cookery show aimed at teaching amateur cooks how to make the ultimate Xmas feast. Dame Mary has teamed up with BBC One to launch a new series focused on her teaching novice chefs how to cook a Christmas dinner.
The show, currently named Mary Berry Saves Christmas, will have secret cookery lessons in a bid to surprise their families with all their favourite festive foods.
The show is expected to air on Christmas Day and is expected go head-to-head for ratings with her old show The Great British Bake Off. GBBO will see judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood oversee four previous contestants as they make festive bakes in the hope of being crowned Christmas Star Baker.
'The traditional Cornish pasty is my favourite. There’s nothing to beat a warm pasty straight from the oven with its distinctive peppery smell. And if you have ever seen a Cornish woman making one, you will see what a skill that is.'
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I can’t think of another person – except perhaps Harry Potter and he’s not even real – who has this kind of impact on family viewing. Cream, it is said, always rises to the top. And it would appear this is precisely what has happened with Mary-Rosa Alleyne Berry, who has been working away in the world of culinary arts for almost six decades, producing some 70 books along the way.
If you caught her ITV Life Stories interview you may have reeled from the shock that at one point in her early career she had cooked a cow’s udder for a television task. Thankfully today, we’re more likely to see her putting the final touches to a divine opera cake or, one of her own favourites, a lemon drizzle. And, it was during The Big Cake Show, which took placefor the first time in March at Exeter's Westpoint, that we got to witness Mary making her famous lemon cake.
Mary was one of the many celebrity bakers featured in the line up at The Big Cake Show which aims to bring baking, in all its glory, with all its current stars and with a healthy dollop of the latest trends to the South West so that we don’t have to trail off to London or Manchester to feel we are part of the baking scene.
'The food from your part of the world really is good and that’s because the chefs and cooks make the most of what’s on the doorstep. They really do use local ingredients and stick to seasonal menu planning and that quality then shines through what you can eat in Cornwall.'
Although Mary is now based in the South East, she likes Cornwall. And Devon. And Somerset. She still makes regular trips to this part of the world and spent lots of her own happy childhood holidays on the beaches of Cornwall looking for mussels and other seafood treats.
“I have been to Cornwall lots and lots of times; along with Devon it is and has long been a favourite family holiday destination,” she remembers. “As a young child I spent happy family holidays on the beaches there looking for cockles and mussels.”
And more recently? “The last time I was there I had the most delicious lunch at the Victoria Inn in St Ives. The town is one of my favourite destinations in Cornwall and I think the chef, who was brilliant, was called Nathan…?”
And when she’s not baking, eating (and judging) sweet things, some of her favourite foods can be found in Cornwall. “The traditional Cornish pasty is my favourite,” she admits. “There’s nothing to beat a warm pasty straight from the oven with its distinctive peppery smell. And if you have ever seen a Cornish woman making one, you will see what a skill that is – the way she will flick the little knife to cut the meat. And then it all comes down to good seasoning.”
Mary says she likes that here, in the West Country, we work hard to use locally-sourced ingredients (instead of just paying lip service to the idea) because this also means we tend toplan and execute more seasonal menus. We’ in this instance most likely means our top chefs but she is right that the fact we live in a beautiful location does have an impact on our national foodie profile because it draws lots of the top chefs as well as creating them, inspired by the local excellent produce.
“The food from your part of the world really is good and that’s because the chefs and cooks make the most of what’s on the doorstep,” she continues. “They really do use local ingredients and stick to seasonal menu planning and that quality then shinesthrough what you can eat in Cornwall."
MARY'S MASTERCLASS & HACKS
- Why do cakes sink?
You have opened the oven door too soon or underbaked your cake.
- Why has my cake cracked when baking?
Your oven was too hot or your cake was on a rack that was too high which means the crust formed too soon. The cake carried on rising which caused the crust to crack.
- So, how can I tell if my cake is cooked?
If you are making a sponge cake, it should be springy to the touch and shrinking slightly from the sides of the tin. You should aim for a cake that is pale and golden brown in colour. If you are making a fruit cake, gently insert a fine skewer which will come out clean if the cake is properly cooked. The cake should be light brown for a light fruit cake and dark brown for a traditional rich fruit cake.
- Why do some cakes have a speckly top?
The baker has used granulated instead of caster sugar. Also, the mixture was not mixed well enough which means the sugar has not dissolved.
- Why do my cakes always seem too dry?
You have used too much baking powder or left the cake in the oven for too long.
- How do you avoid getting a cake rack mark on the top of your cakes?
Cover the cake rack itself with a clean tea towel before inverting the cake on to it.