“Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection” – Rose Levy Beranbaum
I started baking and decorating cakes shortly after my wedding in 2008. After months searching for my dream wedding cake I decided ‘Maybe I can have a go at this?’ I didn’t look back and started to experiment with perfecting recipes and trying my hand at new decorative skills. Friends, family and colleagues were all good sources of commissions for me to practise, and I loved the opportunity it gave me to be creative, given my day job as a cancer research scientist.
My scientific background is a big part of what I do, though. I love the precision and accuracy that is needed in fine baking – even when I cook savoury recipes, I much prefer Heston Blumenthal’s clinically exact temperatures and timings over anything else! People may argue that precision and accuracy stifle creativity; I disagree. It is only through a deeper understanding of the chemistry of baking that recipes can be tweaked and creativity truly flow; being able to predict the outcome of a mix is key to a sweet success! Not all my attempts work, however, but through trial and error, patience and perseverance, my recipes and designs usually meet my high expectations.
Fusing science and art is nowhere more relevant than in French pâtisserie, which is where I’ve found my true passion. Taking part in the inaugural Cambridge Bake Off in 2013 was my chance to really push myself on that front, and after winning the competition I’ve continued to hone my skills in reinventing delicious classics with some little twists.
Winning the competition, support and encouragement I’ve received from all quarters and wanting to make even more people happy on cake has all driven me to the next step: the creation of Fiona Pâtissière…