What ISN’T the Bake Off?
The Bake Off is hopes and dreams, triumphs and disasters. It is one contestant’s struggle against the proving drawer, the soggy bottom, the piping bag. It is scones, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, and the inadvisable use of lavender. It is birth, death, and every joy and sorrow in between. It is a brass band score, a sunny afternoon, a smear of flour on a fevered brow. It is the satisfying crunch of successful puff pastry, the forgiveness in Mary Berry’s eyes, the unanswerable question of how a cake can be ‘too cakey’. It is baking techniques that no one has heard of, it is the humble loaf raised to the most glorious standard. It is gallows humour in the face of the impossible, it is astonished incredulity in the face of the improbable.
It is everything.
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Plainspoken, egalitarian, impatient with fools and foolishness, and admittedly fond of cigarettes, alcohol and late nights — she finally gave up smoking and drinking in her 60s — though she took it up again — Ms. Stritch might be the only actor to work as a bartender after starring on Broadway, and she was completely unabashed about her good-time-girl attitude.
“I’m not a bit opposed to your mentioning in this article that Frieda Fun here has had a reputation in the theater, for the past five or six years, for drinking,” she said to a reporter for The New York Times in 1968. “I drink and I love to drink, and it’s part of my life.”
As new editions of her cookbooks are published, Nigella chooses her own favourite dishes from them. Get the recipes
All photos: Martin Poole for Observer Food Monthly