My View, Charlotte Taylor - In celebration of baking

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Spoons at the ready - The Great British Bake Off has returned to our TV screens and hopefully will have amateur bakers from across the region getting out their mixing bowls and dusting off recipe books.

Sadly this week research from Mintel suggests fewer of us are baking at home this year compared with last year, with the downturn being attributed to health concerns and the change in the economic climate.

Apparently with confidence in the economy growing we are more likely to go out and buy a bun, than bake one at home.

Surely there is a happy middle ground between spending money on professionally baked goods (which can be delicious!) and making your own, which can be a great bonding experience. A friend of mine has an annual bake off with her family and it is the one time of the year when they all take their baking very seriously.

As for the health concerns, the great thing about recipes is that they can be modified along the way. Almost every time I bake I realise, after I’ve started, one ingredient or another is missing, so I hunt around and find a substitute – this has resulted in lovely cakes … as well as some which are best forgotten!

The Great British Bake Off is one of the few programmes on TV that I look forward to. I like the fact that a group of people can be given the same ingredients, same instructions and yet get wildly different results – such is life!

Many of us will have childhood memories of parents and grandparents baking for and with us. For me it was my grandpa making bread cakes, my auntie Margaret’s date and walnut cake and being at my friend’s Nan’s house on a Sunday where there was always a pot of tea and a sponge of one variety or another.

We bake most weekends. There is just something nice about having a tin of freshly baked buns or a cake that you’ve made yourself. Baking is also a great activity for teaching children maths, reading and science skills and who can resist a lick of the spoon!

One of our favourite cookbooks is by Doncaster’s Meryl White – Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking, based on her Grandma’s recipes.

Meryl collected these for 30 years and eventually put them together in to a book which has been sold across the globe. It is full of simple, tasty cakes and is supported by a blog in which Meryl celebrates all things Yorkshire. She creates her own versions and has recently celebrated the Tour de France coming to the region with a special cake and created a special Doncaster Butterscotch.

There are some great home bakers in our communities; - you only have to attend local events to see the cakes and buns on offer. It is one of those skills, often passed down the generations and while we might not refer to them as our signature dishes, there are some old faithful recipes that never fail to impress.

I hope that the Great British Bake Off gets people back in the kitchen, mixing bowls at the ready and that Doncaster’s next generation of young bakers are learning the skills needed to make a super sponge or a tasty tart.

* Charlotte Taylor, managing director, OnTrackPR