Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood on their baking downfalls, super-skilled Bake Off contestants and why it’s not a crime to buy puff pastry

The Great British Bake Off judges are back for a sixth series of scrutinising soggy bottoms – but it turns out that even Mary and Paul have their own baking fears...

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are back for a new series of Great British Bake Off, and they can’t wait to get started…

Where did you learn to bake?

MARY BERRY: At school. It was called domestic science in my day during the war, so it was very frugal baking or cooking. But I am very glad home economics is coming back into schools. Every child, boy or girl, should be able to cook a few dishes by the time they leave school, because not all mums and dads can or want to teach their kids.

PAUL HOLLYWOOD: My mum was great at biscuits and pastries and cakes, but my dad was a master at pies and breads, so it was from both of them when I was very young. I then did an apprenticeship at my dad’s bakery.

Did you always want to be a baker?

MARY: I wasn’t the brightest button in the class at school but I enjoyed cooking and baking. I wasn’t clever enough at Maths O-level to get onto the cookery teaching course I really wanted to do, so I did a catering course instead. Then while I was in my first job I did a City & Guilds teaching qualification and started to teach others, which is what it’s all about.

PAUL: I had no intention of joining the family business! I went to art school and studied sculpture and signed up to join the Tank Regiment when I finished. I pulled out at the last minute because my dad offered me a wad of cash to get my hair cut and join the industry. In the 1980s £500 was a good amount of money, so I did it! He sorted me out with a car as well.


What’s the first thing you learnt to bake?

MARY: A Christmas cake at school, as soon as the war was over and we could get hold of the ingredients. But we used to stick to simple family recipes–nothing exotic like today.

PAUL: Scones with my dad. My first job at the bakery was jamming doughnuts. Is there anything you’re scared of baking?

Is there anything you’re scared of baking?

MARY: My bread and croissants wouldn’t win a prize! I’m not an expert in yeast cookery. I’ve learnt an awful lot from Paul, but I’ve never professed to be a good bread baker.

PAUL: I find dealing with tempered chocolate a bit tricky, but that’s a chocolatier’s job. So I dabble, but I wouldn’t profess to be good at it.


Do you embrace baking fads like cupcakes and cronuts?

MARY: Cupcakes are the fad that won’t go away, but they did get a lot of young people baking… what’s a cronut?

PAUL:  It’s a cross between a croissant and a doughnut – a laminated dough, a bit like a yum-yum.

MARY I love yum-yums! But I wouldn’t try to make them myself – that’s the danger zone for me.