When you think about Top UK Chef Personalities Mary Berry has to be high up on, if not top of, the list. She is like baking royalty, queen of biscuits, tarts and sponge cake!
But despite having a new set of fans thanks to her judging role in The Great British Bake Off (before it parted ways with the BBC and moved to Channel 4), she has actually captured the hearts of Brits over the country for many decades.
Her popularity among people of all ages just goes to show that she has something special, and it is thanks to her that so many people, young or old, are spending time in the kitchen baking up cakes and other treats.
With many achievements under her belt, Mary has a lot to boast about. But, in reality, many people only know really her for her recent TV appearances.
Here is a bit of background information on Mary Berry, which explains why she has become the nation’s baking sweetheart and reigns over all other famous bakers.
Mary Berry is the Queen of baking and has captured the hearts of the nation. Photo on Visualhunt.com
Mary Berry was born in Bath, England, in 1935. This means that, in March this year, Mary will be turning 83! Astonishing as that is, some of our older readers might not be quite so surprised, having followed her recipes year after year.
Mary learnt how to cook at the age of seventeen, learning cooking methods and techniques from her mother in the kitchen at home.
As a young woman, Mary trained at The Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, whilst also attending Bath School of Home Economics in Somerset for a spell. It was in the 1960s that Mary Berry became a household name and started to edit the cooking section of the Housewife magazine.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t long before she started to take to our television screens. Her first TV series was Afternoon Plus, with Judith Chalmers, which came out in the 197os and was a huge hit with mothers. Now a mother living in Buckinghamshire, Mary continued to write and make TV appearances on the subject of food throughout the 80s.
In light of her successes, she decided to launch cookery workshops at home in the 1990s, naming them Aga Workshops. These were as successful as her other business ventures and welcomed more than twelve thousand visitors over the course of sixteen strong years.
Since then, Mary has continued to demonstrate her cooking skills, writing about food and remains in the public eye.
Aside from the show that has brought her the most fame, along with Mel and Sue, The Great British Bake Off, she has also appeared on popular TV programmes like Loose Women, BBC Breakfast, Chris Evans Breakfast Show, The Jonathan Ross Show, The One Show and the Food and Drink Programme, to name but a few.
Going back to GBBO, Mary contributed to the success of this wonderful family show which encourages viewers of all ages to partake in baking, with its various technical challenges to try at home, including chocolate souffle, victoria sandwich, bread making, and other baked goods. Who can forget Nadiya’s levitating can or Candice’s peacock showstopper?!
In addition to the traditional Bake Off programme, she also played an important role in The Junior Bake Off, Comic Relief Bake Off and Sports Relief Bake Off, all of which aired between 2009 and 2016, alongside fellow judge Paul Hollywood.
In addition to the televised shows, Mary and Paul recorded a series of masterclasses, demonstrating various different baking techniques, like how to make sponges, meringues, fondants, brownies, tarts, cheesecake, muffins, cookies etc… as well teaching skills like icing, frosting and decorating cakes or tempering chocolate.
Mary’s mission, of course, is ‘To Get Everyone Baking!’
Mary’s mission is to get everyone baking. Photo credit: wuestenigel on Visualhunt.com
A firm believer that anyone can bake if they set their mind to it, Mary is keen to show the nation that baking cakes doesn’t have to be an arduous task, with her foolproof recipes.
Many of her loyal followers will credit Mary for her straightforward, practical but delicious-tasting recipes which usually involve placing every ingredient in one bowl and mixing together before placing in an oven! It really is as simple as that.
Mary’s favourite cake to make is a ginger treacle tray bake, yet her fans champion her zest lemon drizzle cake recipe. Whichever recipe you choose, you too will get the bug for baking!
Over her sixty year-long career in the food industry, Mary Berry has received many awards and accreditation in her name. In 2009, for example, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Guild of Food Writers. Meanwhile, in 2012, she was given an Honorary Degree by Bath Spa University of her hometown.
Her more recent awards include being Honoured as Freeman of the Worshipful company of Bakers of London (2014), TV Choice Outstanding Achievement Award (2017) and National Television Award for Best TV Judge (also 2017). In 2012, she also had the honour of being awarded a CBE by the Queen (the real Queen of England!).
The Great British Bake Off, or GBBO as it is also known, was always synonymous with head judge Mary Berry, which is why devastation shook the nation when she announced that she would no longer be a part of the show after its move from the BBC to Channel 4. Her fellow judge and long-time friend Paul Hollywood, however, remains on the panel.
The show is produced by Love Productions and involves a group of amateur bakers competing against one another to impress the judges, as well as Perkins and Giedroyc, and become the next winner. Various rounds and battles are put in their way to test their baking skills, and one contestant leaves each time.
Mary Berry was one of the original cast members of this much-loved British baking show, and went on to appear in seven series broadcast by the BBC (BBC Two for the first four series, then BBC One for the remaining three).
It was at this point that Love Productions signed a three-year deal with Channel 4, a decision which broke the hearts of many fans. The show did indeed move to Channel 4, yet the tent remains as it was.
The big difference for many, however, is that Mary Berry isn’t there to offer her friendly, warm and constructive feedback to the bakers competing on the show anymore.
Some of the things that were famously remarked on in social media posts across the country when Mary was on the show were her sayings and innuendos. These include: “And you’re going to finish it in your own way and surprise us”, “soggy bottom” and “scrumptious”.
Are you still feeling deflated that Mary is no longer on the panel?
While you are very unlikely to get a chance to cook with Mary Berry anymore and receive her vital criticism, Mary does have a really great Baking Tips section on her website, offering advice and answers to questions.
You can expect to find some of her baking secrets, and to read some of her long-earned expertise on all things baking like responses to ‘Why does fruit sink to the bottom of a cake?’, ‘How do you stop a cake from sicking to the tray?’, ‘How thick should icing be?’, and ‘How do I avoid getting cake rack marks on the top of my cake?’ and ‘Why use baking parchment?’.
You can find answers to many baking-related questions on Mary’s website. Photo credit: nina.jsc on Visualhunt / CC BY
In addition to this handy guide for baking novices, there is also an app dedicated to the baking enthusiast, called In Mary We Trust.
The app features some of Mary Berry’s reliably easy festive recipes to follow including Traditional Roast Turkey, Apricot & Chestnut Stuffing, Turkey Gravy and all the trimmings plus a tasty Aubergine Five-Nut Roast vegetarian option and some truly ‘showstopping’ puddings.
Finally, if you just can’t get enough of the Queen of Baking, then why not purchase some of her fundamental cookbooks, buy cookware from her range in collaboration with Lakeland, or test out her salad dressings.
Information on all of the above can be found by visiting her website.