Nadiya Hussain: ‘Everyone can be a great baker – if they want to be’
-Oct 15, Caroline Blight, Living -
Until Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain was in secondary school she hadn’t baked a cake. And Nadiya, 33, is proof that with a pinch of determination any of us can be a star in the kitchen. With Bake Off currently inspiring/terrifying us that’s good to know!
Since picking up the award Nadiya has gone on to great things, with books and TV series under her belt she’s balancing the demands of fame with family life. But even with her incredibly busy schedule, cooking remains a joy and something she can continue to share with those closest to her.
In this second instalment of her two-part interview with Lumity Life magazine, Nadiya tells us where the weirdest place that she was asked for a selfie, which ingredient we ought to use more, how the kids feel about their mum being famous and what you’d get served to eat if you popped over to her house for a cup of tea.
Do you remember what the first cake you ever baked was?
Treacle sponge pudding – which is a long old bake. I did it in a microwave though because that’s how my teacher taught me to do it.
Some people reckon they just can’t bake – do you believe that?
We are not born with the ability to bake or cook. Some are more natural at it than others and I get that. I’ve got three kids and my second son, he’s got no interest in it, so he’s already defeated, he can’t be bothered, he gives up and leaves. But there’s no such thing as can’t because if you practice enough you can do anything really. And a lot of it is just following the recipe.
Is there a secret ingredient you use a lot?
I don’t have just one but I love the use of savoury spices in sweet things, it’s becoming more popular now. I couldn’t do without my spice grinder because if I find a whole spice I always grind it down and see what that adds to anything that I’m making. Like strawberry and back pepper, the two together work so well even though you wouldn’t think so. I love spices.
Which spices do you use a lot?
Star anise and fennel seeds – we don’t make enough of fennel seeds. The problem with any whole spice is you can overdo it. It’s hard to judge how much to put in – you have to make a mistake first before you realise you’ve gone overboard or been heavy handed. They are so subtle you have to be quite careful what you use.
Homemade always tastes better and feels more special, why do you think that is?
When you are making something from scratch you are taking the time out to think about a recipe, to go out and buy the ingredients, take time out to bake it, decorate it, and take it over to them – it’s so much easier to just go buy a cake. When you bake somebody something from scratch it’s so much more than just food. Somebody has taken the time to think about what you’d like, it’s a whole day it’s not just the cake itself, it’s the time and thought which goes into it. Anyone can go out and buy a cake and that’s why it’s so special.
Do you think it’s true if you bake something with love it does taste better?
Absolutely, it may not be straight, it may be slightly wonky but it’s the fact that you’ve spent that kind of time so it does taste better. Surely the proof is in the fact you can buy something in a shop but it always tastes better when it comes out of the oven at home. And if you’re in a bad mood when you are making something it never goes right.
What are your kids favourite bakes?
My children have lots of favourite things, they love the classics like American Chewy Cookies or Victoria Sponge or Apple Crumble.
What is your favourite cake?
When you’re baking all day long you get to a point where you don’t want to eat it any more. I don’t have a favourite but yesterday I made a Cappuccino Swiss Roll just because it was easy and I just wanted to make a cappuccino version and that’s what I did. I don’t have a favourite. That’s what it is right now but it will be something different tomorrow.
What do people ask for when they visit?
Always brownies, always. I make some Raspberry Jam and Dark Chocolate Brownies which are popular but my family will all eat it differently. I will eat it as it is, my husband will warm it in the microwave and eat it with ice cream, my brother will warm it and eat it with single cream – they are eaten in so many different ways.
Do you get approached a lot when you are out and about?
Yes, often people will tell me something really nice, tell me about something that happened or the way they felt and then it will end in a selfie.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve been asked for a selfie?
In the toilet by someone outside my toilet. When I came out of the cubical they said can I take a selfie and I said ‘Right here? Right now? Can I wash my hands?’
How to the kids feel about you being famous?
When we are out and about my eldest doesn’t enjoy sharing me very much, he will say ‘we just wanted to have some normal mum time’ I have to explain to him this is just the way it is. I try and plan my day so it’s not somewhere which is so busy I get stopped. Or we do normal things like chill out at my mums house because you don’t get anyone there who is going to stop you. We plan our days a little bit better now. They’re children at the end of the day.
If you missed our first instalment with Nadiya you can find it here, and perhaps you’d be interested in Strictly star Karen Clifton’s health and fitness secrets?