In times of hardship and recession home cooking and baking always seems to take a leap in popularity. This can be witnessed by the rise in favour of television programmes such as The Great British Bake Off and Masterchef that seem to fuel the passion for traditional recipes.
Cookery shows have led to an upturn in the sale of baking products, with a huge increase in the number of domestic male bakers who have been spurred on by cooks such as Jamie Oliver and Paul Hollywood. Whilst the economic downturn started the baking revival, people have realised that they actually enjoy the process of baking and that it brings back fond memories of their childhood.
Baking heroine Mary Berry has become a pin-up for women, inspiring them to take up baking and at the same time reviving the Women’s Institute, with membership reaching its highest level since the 1970s and the creation of 144 new institutes across the UK.
Baking trends come and go and the cupcake has finally been knocked off its perch in the number one spot by a petite round ball, the cake pop. These one bite delights are pieces of cake, either home-made or shop bought, ground up and mixed with icing, shaped into a ball with a stick inserted into one end and then decorated in whatever fashion you desire. However, cake pops are in danger of relinquishing their place at the top of the charts to meringues, good news for those of us who are worried about consuming too many calories.
To make easy meringue nests:
Beat 115g sugar and four egg whites together until stiff and glossy, then fold in 115g of icing sugar and bake for one and a half hours at 100C. Sandwich together or fill each meringue with whipped cream or crème fraîche into which you have added a rough puree of summer fruits and a little icing sugar and voila!
Other trends to watch out for include éclairs, not as we know them, but covered in fondant with jewel like decorations and marshmallows, these are making a comeback but with unusual and different flavours – saffron or beetroot marshmallow anybody?