ON THE COVER Nadiya Hussain
The BakeOff champ has all the recipes for success, no matter what the culinary occasion!
The Magic Of Baking
Nadiya may have found fame when she won BakeOff but it was long before that when she first discovered her talent.
“I discovered the magic of baking the first time I saw my Home Economics teacher mix flour, eggs and sugar together and put them in the oven. My passion for baking was definitely sparked at that point.
“However, I didn’t really start baking seriously until I was 21 and got married and realised that my husband loves cakes. I thought, ‘Well, if he eats it, I’ll make it!’”
Comfort Food Classics
She maybe able to cook up all kinds of deliciously delightful treats in the kitchen but, like most of us, Nadiya has simple, unsophisticated demands when it comes to comfort food. “Cheese and marmite is always a winning combination – I think because I spend all day cooking, comfort food usually consists of things I haven’t made myself. A packet of pickled onion monster munch gets me so giddy! “However, if there’s one dish that really says comfort and reminds me of home, then it’s instant mashed potato with butter and cream and lots of salt with half a can of Heinz tomato soup poured on top. It’s the most delicious thing! When my kids are sick and I ask them what they want, they always say, ‘Mashed potato and soup please, Mummy.’ Always!”
Her Favourite Cake
Unsurprisingly, from a woman who’s even baked a cake for the Queen, no party is complete until there’s a massive cake on the table.
“Regardless of the celebration, there has to be cake. And not just your average shallow cake – it has to be a super high cake, almost teetering on the brink of falling over. The kind of cake you need a dinner plate to serve just one slice!
“My kids love my strawberry ripple tower cake. It’s about eight layers of cake with Italian meringue sandwiched between each layer with freeze dried strawberries. The top is decorated with fresh strawberries so it’s kind of like this Eton mess-meringue-pavlova-cake-thing!”
“Regardless of the celebration, there has to be cake!”
Spreading The Love
Nadiya has a special Christmas tradition which involves sharing some of her delicious home baking with her neighbours.
“Every year, just before Christmas, I make a massive batch of Biscotti with the kids. We wrap them up with cellophane, tie them with ribbon and then we stand outside our front door with all our little packages of biscotti. The rule is that whatever doors we can see from our front door gets a packet of biscotti.
“The kids do what most kids do and say, ‘Are they going to give us anything back?’ and I tell them ‘No, you don’t give presents to get.’ They’re still learning!”
Cooking For Family
Nadiya really loves to cook for her family – especially traditional food from South Asia. “Being South Asian, I love a good curry so when the family all come around that’s what we’ll usually have. There’s a big pot of cumin rice and I’ll cook up a big chicken korma with a simple cucumber salad. After that, we’ll of course have a cake so high you can see if from a satellite up in space! “When there are so many of us together, it’s about having a few things on the table – but a lot of it!”
“My family come over to my house – there are about 28 of us – and I cook everything. My four sisters don’t like to come empty-handed though, so they usually bring something, even if it’s last night’s leftovers! “There is always so much food, there are no words to describe the gluttony. There is always enough for us to have lunch and then let it all sit at the table to get cold. Later, we’ll be back to nibble on the cold food. “I hate washing up so I always make lots of things in advance, like Brussel sprouts and roast potatoes, and freeze them so I don’t need to scrub roasting dishes on Christmas day!”
Nadiya’s BakeMea Festive Story (illustrations by Clair Rossiter) publishes in hardback on October 7, 2017, £14.99 from Hodder Children’s Books A cake fit for a Queen!
Nadiya and her family