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Mary Berry webchat: Join the queen of tarts on Monday 1.30 - 2.30

(162 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 13-Sep-13 16:49:53

We are excited and delighted that queen of the kitchen, Mary Berry, will be joining us at MNHQ for a live webchat.

Mary Berry, CBE is one of the UKs best-known and most respected cookery writers and television presenters. She has over 80 books to her name and over 6 million sales worldwide. A judge on The Great British Bake Off she has been voted as Britains favourite baking companion.

Mary's autobiography A Recipe for Life is out this month. A touching, evocative and fascinating memoir, Mary tells the story of her remarkable rise to fame. Everyone who joins the webchat will be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of A Recipe for Life. Join us on Monday or post a question in advance to Mary on this thread.

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:38:14


Hello Mary <fans self>

I've got such a simple question that you may think I'm an idiot but here goes...

How on earth do I stop fruit/choc chips etc sinking to the bottom? I have asked a million people and got a million answers but nothing works. If you can solve this I will be the toast of the school coffee morning!

Fruit and chocolate chips sink to the bottom because the actual cake mixture is too runny. Even though you follow the recipe sometimes a low fat is used which makes a runny mixture. If this is not the case, add a little more self-raising flour to your mixture to make it stiffer. It will then support the fruit or chocolate chips.

prettybird Mon 16-Sep-13 13:38:39

What I love about GBBO is how positive Mary and Paul are - their comments are always so constructive and not at all shouty unlike certain other cooking programmes grin

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Mon 16-Sep-13 13:39:59

Faithless she has asked for it for a birthday cake, I'm not sure how best to go about it so I hope Mary can suggest something special.

StellaMarie Mon 16-Sep-13 13:42:13

Hello Mary,
Firstly a thank-you, my godson was baptised yesterday and I had the task of making the cake. I used your rich fruit cake recipe from the Complete Cookbook it was a success and everyone really enjoyed it. I'm so thankful that that the recipe was easy to follow and it worked perfectly. I wasn't at all worried about it being cut into at teatime!

My question is about the benefits of using soft margarine vs butter in some of your cake recipes. Is it based on health benefits or because it is softer or is there another reason?

Thank you!

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:42:20


<Tries again> Hello Mary, I love your books and even had a copy of the 1970 Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook tracked down for me when I left home - the cakes and breads section are still great grin.

Do you ever look at fads in the baking world - like the seeming obsession for salted caramel flavours - and think "I give that flavour combo two years before we all come to our senses"?

Like Expat, I'd like to thank you for being so open about being a bereaved mother. It can be such a taboo subject and something that many people would prefer us to hide. I think that when parents like you talk about your experiences it really does help other bereaved families and may help little by little to change others' attitudes.

I'm not a follower of salted caramel, or cupcakes with too much butter icing on top. I'm more of a traditional baker but I've learnt a lot of new ideas from bakers on the Great British Bake Off.

To you and Expat– I'm sorry about your losses and thank you for your comments. I always think we were lucky to have our children and have many happy memories. Child Bereavement UK, which I am a patron of now, is a wonderful charity who helps bereaved parents and their children in so many ways. If anyone needs some additional support please contact them.

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:43:39


Another Mary Berry fan here, who isn't?

I was wondering what the biggest calamity on GBBO has been. This year we have seen custard stealing but my memory of previous years is rather more vague sadly.

The biggest calamity was when Rob dropped his chocolate cake on the floor! He'd made a beautiful genoise sponge and it slipped on to the floor. He coped brilliantly and covered it in icing so he wasn't sent home!

Faithless12 Mon 16-Sep-13 13:44:24

Katy, I suppose you could do a sandwich cake with Marzipan inbetween the two layers? Apricot jam to stick the layers together.

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:44:45


Hi Mary, I love GBBO and my mum applied but sadly didn't get through sad
My question is: whenever I make sponge cakes I always cream the butter and sugar first then add the eggs. But the mixture always looks like its curdled after the eggs have been added, I add them a little at a time but nothing seems to work.
What am I doing wrong?

I now use the all-in-one method, using Stork for cakes instead of butter. Everything goes in the bowl together and you beat it. It's quick, easy and gives very good results.

NotAFeminist Mon 16-Sep-13 13:44:52

prettybird I agree with you about how Mary's and Paul's comments are so lovely and constructive and nearly always accompanied with a smile! - Even when the bakers' finished product wasn't quite what they had in mind! It's a great show, I only wish I had started watching it 3 series ago!!

mignonette Mon 16-Sep-13 13:46:04

I've always found that it doesn't matter if it curdles. Just add the flour anyway and it'll all come together (similar to MB's all in one method to be honest)

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:46:07


I'll be chained to a desk tomorrow, but I'd like to say to Mary how much I am grateful for her cake recipes. Except in circumstances of outstanding idiocy on my part they come out so perfectly, and attract so many compliments, I feel I should pass on the compliments. Favourites include Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake and the light as a feather Lemon Drizzle from the Baking Bible.

My question is about Christmas cake, specifically the light and golden Victorian Christmas Cake in the Baking Bible. It is glorious. How far in advance would I be safe to make it? I like to do Christmas as far in advance as possible. Thank you!

You can make your Christmas cake right now! It needs to be well-wrapped and kept in a cool place. If your kitchen's very hot and you have space in the fridge or freezer, keep it there then ice it nearer Christmas. You can ice your Christmas cake mid-December.

aristocat Mon 16-Sep-13 13:46:17

Hello Mary, how were you persuaded to be on the new Keyhole show? You have a beautiful house smile

LLucan Mon 16-Sep-13 13:46:51

Hello Mary,

Just a quick message to say how much I enjoy The Great British Bake Off and how it inspired me to draw a series of cartoons of you, Paul, Mel and Sue. Your cartoon can be found here: Pauls is here: and Mel's is here: Sue's will follow tomorrow night during transmission.

I hope you like the cartoon!

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:47:08


Mary - I am just starting to deal with the scariness of having to do a school lunch box. Other than flapjacks, what cakes do you recommend for withstanding the bashing and dropping that tends to happen to a 4 year old's lunch box and still being edible at lunch time?

Children seem to like homemade biscuits best. I suggest that you wrap one or two in foil within the lunch box –they'll be less likely to get damaged!

HoneyDragon Mon 16-Sep-13 13:47:18

Ooh that trends thing has reminded me.

My mum used to make a fabulous lemon freezer cake years and years ago (its used raw eggs so she stopped making it because of Edwina Currie)and then lost the recipe. She was convinced it was yours but searched to no avail so probably wasn't.

Can you come up with one any way please the next time you write a book? grin

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:48:44


Hi Mary,

I really enjoyed watching the programme about your rise to fame that was on TV a couple months ago, especially when you went to the kitchens in Paris. Which point of your career would you consider to be your highlight? I am looking forward to reading your book.

I also saw you on through the keyhole, your house is beautiful!

Lovely to have you at MNHQ!

I'm enjoying my time right now. It's such fun on the Bake Off and I'm really proud to have finished my autobiography, says she with a sigh of relief. It's been a real trip down memory lane, and it was great to look at old photographs. We've included lots of them in the book.

shelley72 Mon 16-Sep-13 13:49:09

Gosh this talk of cake is making me very

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:50:45


Hi Mary - like everyone else I love your books and GBBO. I also loved hearing you on Desert Island Discs - it was a very moving episode.

I have an aga and no other cooker and wondered whether you had any plans to do another aga book - one focusing on christmas in particular would be wonderful. I am already dreading the trauma of trying to get my roast potatoes to roast whilst the temperature plumits.

Thank you!

I enjoy developing new recipes because we're so lucky that we have new ingredients. I can well remember when we didn't have avocados, butternut squash and mangoes were rare. Also, we have such a variety of sugars nowadays. I like to use natural sugars and we can buy them of many textures and flavours.

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:52:09


Hi Mary,

First wanted to say I adore you! You always look so amazing and I was just wondering how you stay in such great shape? Especially during the Great British Bake-Off and sampling all those great cakes?

Thanks for coming to Mumsnet and spending the time to talk to all of us.

I try to have a really good taste of all the recipes on the Bake Off, but when it comes to cake at home it's a small slice and not a second one. I keep an eye on what I eat and exercise a bit too. Tennis on Mondays and plenty of walking!

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:54:36


I would like to thank you Mary for teaching me how to cook! My question is what cook books other than your own would you recommend , for good family meals.

I do very little ethnic cooking and I would therefore recommend Madhur Jaffrey for Indian cooking, Ken Hom for Chinese, and for detailed fish recipes Rick Stein. For Middle-Eastern cooking, Claudia Roden.

Elliptic5 Mon 16-Sep-13 13:56:02

Hi Mary

Are all your recipes printed nowadays designed with fan ovens in mind or are conventional ovens considered best for some types of cakes?

Thank you

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:57:26


Gah! I'll be at work during the actual chat, but I do have a question...
When making creme patissiere, other than using cornflour, which looks a bit like cheating... does Mary have any tips or hints to stop it curdling please?
thanks and cake for my favourite person on television!

When making creme patissiere I always add either cornflour or flour, otherwise you wouldn't get the thickness to the mixture that you require. Have a look in my Complete Cookbook.

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:58:05


Hi Mary

Are all your recipes printed nowadays designed with fan ovens in mind or are conventional ovens considered best for some types of cakes?

Thank you

In my recipes I give both fan and conventional. Fan is 20 degrees less than most conventional cookers.

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 13:59:48


Dear Mary

I love your programmes and your recipes. I've never yet had a MB recipe fail on me.

You are very stylish and always look amazing. Do you have a stylist for the programme or do you just love clothes? I've heard you say you dress very differently at home. What sort of look do you rock then?

I just wanted to say that your pieces about William have moved me to tears. He sounds like a fine young man and I am so very sorry for your loss.

Thank you for coming and my best wishes to you flowers

On Bake Off for some of my jackets a stylist gives me some to choose, but very often I enjoy shopping around in Zara, Phase Eight, John Lewis and Jaeger. At home I'm pretty relaxed – I'm always wearing something warm round my neck. Thank you for your kind comments about William.

MaryBerry Mon 16-Sep-13 14:00:45



Mary, what is your favourite biscuit?

My favourite biscuit is shortbread. I've put my favourite recipe in my autobiography at the end of chapter 16. I've also included 19 of my other favourite recipes – one for each chapter!

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