As part of our National Baking Week celebrations with Pyrex, we got in touch with TV chef Rosemary Shrager for some tips and inspiration. A talented and versatile chef who loves talking about food, Rosemary has worked for some of the most famous chefs in the world and has published and presented some of the finest books and television programmes of the genre.
Renowned for her cookery courses and baking skills we thought Rosemary was the perfect person to talk to.
What is your earliest food memory?
When I was 6 years old I remember taking a load of raspberries, with the top of the milk (which in those days was cream!) and sitting on the doorstep enjoying the flavours and just thinking to myself that this was absolutely fabulous.
When did you learn to bake?
My mother taught me from a young age, probably from the age of 5 or 6. I remember entering, and winning, lots of baking competitions when I was younger, my scones were legendary!
Do you think children are given enough opportunity to cook/bake?
We all live very fast-paced lives these days and we’re very time-poor. Parents, in particularly, have less time to spend with their children to do any activities, let alone baking!
I think baking is perceived to be a very time-consuming activity – but it doesn’t have to be, so parents are instantly put off.
Also, I think more could be done in schools. I think the changes which are coming in to the new curriculum for 2012 to increase the time children spend cooking in schools is a really positive move.
What’s the most unusual ingredient you’ve every baked with?
I do tend to stick to traditional ingredients when baking, but I can tell you some unusual places where I have baked and the difference it made to my baking… in Switzerland, for example, where the air is a lot thinner so everything takes a lot longer to cook. And then in the Caribbean, it was an absolute nightmare as everything melts and curdles so much in the heat!
What’s your favourite recipe?
Oh, that’s an easy question to answer, but I’d have to have two – Sticky Toffee Pudding or Bread and Butter Pudding.
If you were teaching a total novice how to bake, what’s the first thing you’d tell them?
Pick something to bake that you really like or like the tastes of, keep it simple, be patient and keep everything light to the touch.
Cooking, writing, presenting, teaching you have a very busy schedule but which of your pursuits do you most enjoy?
Teaching, absolutely – because I’m naturally bossy.
What’s your favourite food?
I don’t have to think about this for too long – it’s baked chicken potato pie.
If you could change anything about the ‘food world’ what would it be?
If I had my way, I’d ensure that retailers only sold food that was in season. I think the supermarkets confuse people by allowing them to buy foods that should only be able to be bought in season – plus, they never taste as nice so why bother?
Do you remember the first time you cooked on TV?
It was about 15 years ago, and it was a live show on Granada Lifetime. I was absolutely terrified and my whole body was shaking and my lips were quivering. I made Yorkshire Puddings – and it really was the most terrifying few moments of my life!
What’s your best baking tip?
Before you start, weigh out all your ingredients and have them all laid out in front of you so you’re all ready and can just enjoy your baking experience.
For more details about our National Baking Week competition click here. Good luck!