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Jane Dunn: Jane’s Patisserie founder and Havant resident

Jane is hailed as the Mary Berry of the Instagram age
Jane is hailed as the Mary Berry of the Instagram age

From Santa’s grotto recruiter, to superstar baking blogger – Portsmouth’s Jane Dunn shares her story along with her love of savoury bakes

Christmas has always been Jane Dunn’s favourite time of year to bake.

‘I love this time of year because everything is cozy, festive, celebratory and fun and I just love the flavours,’ says the Havant resident and founder of Jane’s Patisserie. ‘I like anything ginger or chocolate-orange flavoured, whether it be my gingerbread cookie wreaths, gingerbread caramel chocolate tart or a chocolate orange drip cake. I am however learning to love mince pies. I never used to as a kid, but I do now and have done some mince pie crumble bars as my little twist on the classic.’

Great British Life: This Camembert tear and share is perfect for Christmas entertainingThis Camembert tear and share is perfect for Christmas entertaining

With over 1.3 million followers across Facebook and Instagram, where she shares easy-to-follow recipes for simple and delicious bakes for bakers of all levels, Jane has been dubbed the “The Mary Berry of the Instagram age”.

However, prior to the 31-year-old’s blog and social media success she had a number of other jobs in sectors including hospitality, customer services, finance and even recruitment for Christmas grottos!

‘That was probably the most bizarre job I've ever had – looking over Santa scripts and meeting Santas and elves across the country, but it was great fun,’ she remembers. ‘One of my favourite moments was when a dad, who was in the army, came home and that was the present to the child from Santa, their dad coming through the door of the grotto – it was just the sweetest moment.’

Jane’s love of baking began when she was a child having watched her Grandma, Ivy, constantly baking.

‘Most kids grow up baking something, but it was all I ever wanted to do,’ says Jane who attended Kingscourt School in Catherington and Portsmouth High School. ‘I never had food technology lessons, but I loved the bake sales and baking competitions at school – my mum always says that I'm exactly like my Gran, who just baked all of the time.’

When Jane finished school, she still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do as a career but her love of cooking and baking saw her enrol at Ashburton Chefs Academy in Devon. It was while studying there in 2014 that she started her blog, Jane’s Patisserie, as a creative outlet to share her recipes. Initially, she says, it was just family and friends who would read and like and comment on her recipes but, before long, they started to go viral.

‘I started out just posting recipes that I wanted to make for me because I wanted to eat them, but then I started noticing people across the country, and then across the world, baking my recipes and sending in requests. My first recipe to go semi-viral was a Rolo cheesecake, and so I chose to name my Golden Retriever after it,’ laughs Jane, adding that she thinks the popularity of her bakes is down to their accessibility. ‘Everybody, no matter what your skill set, can have a go and it’s all using ingredients that you can buy from the supermarket, you don’t need anything fancy. So, I feel like I'm everyone's friend in the kitchen in the sense that my recipes are just really simple, tasty things.’

Great British Life: Chocolate orange is one of Jane's favourite Christmas flavour combinationsChocolate orange is one of Jane's favourite Christmas flavour combinations

Jane’s easy bakes and the odd showstoppers she’d bake for family and friends (such as the Harry Potter wedding cake she baked for a friend’s themed wedding), caught the eye of publishers and, in 2021, she released her first book, Jane's Patisserie, which became the fastest-selling bakery book of all time. She has since appeared on shows like This Morning, James Martin’s Saturday Kitchen and was even a judge for The Fortnum & Mason Platinum Pudding Competition.

‘At first, I was really terrified of going on TV. In school, me and drama lessons were not good. I was terrified of stage fright but doing TV has given me a lot more confidence,’ she admits. ‘Being asked to do the Platinum Pudding Competition for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, judging other people's bakes alongside Mary Berry and Monica Galetti, was the craziest moment I think I've ever experienced. The winner Jemma Melvin was so lovely and had been following my recipes for years, which was so nice to hear.’

Having released a second book all about celebration bakes last year, her third book, Jane’s Patisserie: Everyday, features 70 new and exclusive fan-requested recipes, as well as 30 classic favourites and tips on how to make Jane's staple bakes 'free-from'. As well as her trademark simple treats and fool-proof cakes, for the first time she shares comforting savoury bakes, including easy Pizza Pockets, pies and pastries, hearty one-tray feasts and even those much-loved Christmas lunch savoury staples – roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings.

Great British Life: Jane once worked as a recruiter for Santa's grottos and has always loved this time of yearJane once worked as a recruiter for Santa's grottos and has always loved this time of year

‘I secretly love savoury food,’ she admits. ‘It feels a little criminal saying that out loud, but I just love food and when people started asking me what sort of things I have for my dinner, it made sense to include some savoury bakes in the new book.

‘Roast potatoes are one of my favourite things and another element of Christmas I just adore – in fact that would be my dream meal, a bowl of roast potatoes with a side of gravy to dunk them in!’

Jane’s Patisserie: Everyday is out now in hardback, published by Ebury Press | Hardback rrp £22. Find out more at: Janespatisserie.com

Great British Life: Jane’s Patisserie: EverydayJane’s Patisserie: Everyday

My Favourite Hampshire…

Café: I love going to independent cafes that aren't part of a chain such as The Canteen in the Hotwalls in Portsmouth. And whenever I go to a new town or city, I like to try their local bakery.

Dog walk: For walks with my dogs Rolo and Thor, I like going to Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Holly Hill Woodland Park is also lovely.

Restaurant: Maya, in Southsea, serves absolutely delicious tapas-style Latin American food – it’s so fresh and full of flavour.



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