Writing life

Mary Berry

Baking queen Mary Berry reveals a typical day creating her best-selling cookbooks

Early to rise

I get up about 6.45am. I’m an early morning person; you get most things done in the morning. I always have coffee, toast and Marmite, and my homemade marmalade at weekends.

I don’t have writing days; I’m always collecting recipes and ideas and my assistant Lucy and I will sort out a third of the recipes before I even start a new book. What’s important for us are the testing days. We have a test kitchen next to the family kitchen at home. Lucy comes in at 9.30am but often I’m not here; I’m filming Bake Off or my own series. On those days, she leaves all the tests with the written-out recipes for me, to taste and amend when I get home.

But when I am here we’ll do about four recipes a day. We test, it’s written up, then it needs an intro, then it might need retesting. We do an awful lot of tasting and discussing. We make notes all the time: we start with a structure of what’s going in it and a method and then it’s all filled in as we go along. We’re meticulous about weighing, and if it’s a difficult or new ingredient we make sure we explain it in the intro.

Green fingers

We normally arrange to finish things around lunchtime and perhaps do a little baking in the afternoon. So quite often, if we’ve made quiche or a pissaladière, we have lunch sorted – but if we’ve done something like coq au vin we’ll freeze it for supper another day.

We usually finish about 6pm, and I like to mark the end of the working day with a glass of wine. In the evening I might get vegetables for supper from the garden, or pick some flowers, read the paper, watch some telly. We have a gardener two days a week because the garden is three and a half acres, but I do quite a bit of gardening myself, on fine days or weekends. I really like picking flowers for the house or for friends: it’s sweet peas at the moment. Then my husband and I are in bed in time to watch the 10 O’Clock News.

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