If you've got a sweet tooth or love baking some treats, then you'll most certainly enjoy our Q&A with Sarah Rainey, author of Six Minute Showstoppers and a lover of baking. Find out about her new cookbook (which is sure to get your belly rumbling), her baking disasters and what she'd serve the Queen for dinner!
What do you love so much about cooking and baking?
I love the escapism of it. For me, getting into the kitchen, putting on my apron and getting stuck into a recipe is the ultimate relaxation. I can switch off – even from the busiest, most stressful day – and lose myself in food.
I also love how happy it makes people. There’s nothing nicer than giving someone a homemade cake or batch of biscuits and seeing them smile.
Where does your love for baking come from?
My late Grandma, Kay, who was the most brilliant baker back home in Northern Ireland. Some of my earliest memories are from her kitchen, where I’d tug on her apron and she’d pick me up with floury hands and show me whatever treats she was whipping up, usually her famous scones or wheaten bread. She taught my mum, who’s also a great cook – and together they passed it on to me!
Can you really cook each recipe from your new cookbook in just six minutes?
I swear! I tested every one again and again, using my little egg timer – and if it wasn’t possible in exactly six minutes, not a second more, it didn’t make the cut! There were so many recipes I wanted to include but just couldn’t get them done in time.
But I don’t want readers to feel they HAVE to do the recipes in six minutes: they’re simple and speedy enough if you want to set the timer – but you can also take all day if you prefer!
What has been the highlight of your baking journey?
Baking a cake for HRH Mary Berry, the Queen of Cake. I was lucky enough to bake for her and Paul Hollywood in the early days of Bake Off. I made my signature sticky ginger sponge cake with lemon drizzle icing (not a six-minuter, I’m afraid!) – and I was a nervous wreck watching them tuck in. Paul was quite hard to impress but Mary was utterly lovely. She’s such an inspiration.
Are there any foods you particularly dislike?
I hate marzipan! And anything too almondy, really: so frangipane, Bakewell tarts – and Christmas cake! Other than that I eat – or will at least try – anything. I have a ridiculously sweet tooth, as anyone who’s baked from my book will know, so the sweeter the better.
Do you have a favourite go-to ingredient?
I use (and eat) peanut butter ALL THE TIME. It’s in so many of my bakes: peanut butter cookies, peanut butter mug cake, peanut biscuit squares, peanut butter and jam brownies, peanut butter poke cake… the list goes on. It’s so versatile – the texture completely changes when it’s baked – and it tastes just as good in savoury dishes (curries, etc) as sweet. As long as you buy a sugar- and palm oil-free brand (my favourite is Pip & Nut), it’s good for you – and the world – too.
You can invite three people round for dinner (past and present): who would you invite and what would you cook?
My guests would be: the Queen, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and the late actress Katherine Hepburn – three amazing, inspirational women whom I’d love to get together in one room!
I’d cook my favourite starter, French onion soup, followed by a summery risotto full of fresh veg and topped with crispy Parma ham – and then I’d finish with my nacho average cheesecake from Six Minute Showstoppers. It’s making me hungry just thinking about it!
Have you had any baking disasters?
Countless! My husband has witnessed (and helped clean up after…) most of them – and he’ll confirm that there have been some whoppers. I once tried to bake muffins using yoghurt, and ended up filling the oven with a gooey mess that took months to clean. I’ve also set the toaster on fire (several times, I’m ashamed to say…) and nearly burned the house down trying to make doughnuts.
If you're needing some sweet treats or in the mood to bake after reading our interview with Sarah Rainey, then we have some lovely recipes to share with you from Sarah's book Six Minute Showstoppers, including Butterscotch Banoffee Pie, Pimm's Cupcakes and Red Velvet Mug Cake. So pop on your Sophie Allport Apron and let the baking commence.
Who would you invite for dinner and what would you cook? Let us know in the comments below.