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Sugar, spice ‘n’ love

india Updated: May 29, 2009 13:16 IST
Girija Duggal
Girija Duggal
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Get ready for the delicious aroma of oven fresh cakes, tarts, cookies, breads, etc to invade your home as ‘Irish Cooking Queen’ Rachel Allen comes to Indian households with her latest TV show, Rachel Allen: Bake!.

In this 10-part series, the celebrity chef shares not only her favourite recipes but also takes viewers to some of UK’s best bakeries, cafes and pastry chefs (among them, Mitch Turner, who designed Madonna’s wedding cake).

“Baking is a simple, wonderful thing...it’s the best gift you can give someone,” says the 37-year-old mother of three over the phone from Ireland, excited about the series’ debut in India. In order to dismiss the notion that baking must be a lengthy chore, she has picked recipes “that’ll take just five minutes”, like Irish soda bread. “Only some”, she says, “I’d reserve for a Saturday morning when there’s nothing else to do”.

Allen’s interest in the culinary field began quite early— her earliest food memory is helping her mother bake a sponge cake. She learnt cooking at the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, where she was inspired by school director Darina Allen’s holistic approach to the subject. “[Darina said] If you start with something simple, you can make something good. It’s a simple ethos based on organic farming. I found that approach interesting.”

She carries forward the same philosophy in her own cooking, too, which is “simple, honest, wholesome food that I really enjoy eating and cooking at home, [and which] also works for busy people”. Her secret ingredient? “Love,” she says simply.

“There’s always room for a chef who creates fantastic restaurant food that looks like a piece of architecture on the plate. [But] I’m not interested in that because I’m a mother, too. At the end of the day, we just need to cook wonderful food for our family and friends.”

Rachel Allen: Bake! premieres on Discovery Travel & Living on June 3