I am an amateur home baker from Surrey, UK, living with my wonderful partner, my adorably mischievous cat and my unashamed love of musical theatre.
And don’t even get me started on my Golden Girls box sets…....
I love of all forms of cooking and eating – for me cooking is the best way to lose myself in a very happy world – but in the world of cooking, baking often epitomes comfort for me and evokes so many happy memories.
A self-taught home baker, I was initially inspired by my gran and my mum when I was a young boy. I have always been eager to practise until I feel I have got to grips with a technique.
I particularly enjoy any opportunity to bake for others, whether to test out a new bake on friends and colleagues, or baking for a charity event. And I always love eating what others have baked: there is always such pleasure tucking into anything that someone else has made.
I am a Mathematics teacher in my professional life, having taught for almost 30 years. Teaching is always both exciting and rewarding for me. And I need no excuse to bring in cake and other treats for my students and my colleagues!
As a teacher I love to learn (not least from my many mistakes!) and I can often be found browsing through books or looking online for techniques that are new to me just so I can have a go at them. Even trying to recreate a great dish I have eaten at a restaurant often presents a fun challenge with opportunities for food discovery.
My world of baking
I will bake and cook anything, often taking inspiration from ideas that are many decades old, but I love being inspired by current trends.
I love adding my own stamp on food, sometimes trying to modernise a classic from an earlier era, but I often like nothing better than to spend time working through classics with no embellishments whatsoever!
Pastries and breads are, for me, the most addictive areas of baking: I love how just a few humble ingredients can be turned into something quite majestic.
I particularly adore small-scale bakes: miniature breads packed with flavour and canapés excite me, and I could happily feast on these for ages!
Afternoon Tea is one of my favourite things to eat, mainly because of my love of small-scale nibbles and “dainties”. I love to prepare it for friends and family and it is always a great opportunity for me to indulge in my creative side.
Like most people I have several ambitions…..quite possibly wild dreams. Nonetheless they include:
- To publish a cookery book: I have several book ideas, and would love the opportunity publish books that make people want to get into the kitchen and have a go.
- To teach food skills to others, whether adults or children. Granted, I am a home cook and still have so much to learn, but I would love to extend my teaching in this way.
- To cook on television, trying to do my bit to encourage others to at least “have a go” in the kitchen.
- To revive bakes and dishes that have fallen out of fashion or are all but forgotten from across the UK, and also give them a contemporary spin: I particularly adore finding out about other people’s family recipes handed down through the generations.
- To dance on Strictly Come Dancing: a dream of so many years! Well, dreaming big never harmed anyone!!
- To have a tea shop, serving good quality Afternoon Tea.
Recreating bakes & and putting my twist on bakes
Whenever I eat something new that I have enjoyed I cannot wait to get into the kitchen to try to create it: this is a challenge I am always up for, and I love the process of working at recreating the bake until I am happy enough to eat it.
I am an unashamed tweaker of recipes: I am rarely satistified with a recipe until it has got to the “I’ve got to have another portion” stage!
My version of the classic Pissaladière, in which I use a freshly made croissant dough as the base, remains true in heart to the original French classic and has become a very firm favourite in our house; my kedgeree-inspired tarts are perfect as a tasty light bite and are an affectionate homage to that great dish, although I have recently adapted this as a spiced smoked cod and fennel version:
In particular I cannot stop myself from playing around with different flavours for breads: I often bake my Gorgonzola & pear bread, whether in sourdough form (as I initially devised for this bread) or using commercial yeast.
Baking with the seasons
We are fortunate to have an allotment which is ideal for making use of fresh produce throughout the year. Baking with seasonal produce is an important part of my approach in baking and I particularly love the challenge of finding new bakes with the produce, always trying to avoid the “not another courgette tart”-type feeling!
Reading for pleasure!
I’m an unapologetic collector of any books relating to baking and general cooking: this has become something of an addiction, whether collecting contemporary books or books from many decades ago, and I love curling up on the sofa or in bed reading them.
I do try to make it a point of cooking from the books, rather than just reading and drooling (although reading and drooling can work!). Particular writers whose works I come back to time and time again include Nigel Slater, Julia Child, Elizabeth David, Simon Hopkinson, Mary Berry, Ina Garten and Raymond Blanc. I love watching cookery programmes: there is something addictive about watching someone cook. And as a teacher it is always a thrill to get taught.
Best wishes, Philip
Please feel free to contact me as I love to chat with others who love food.