Mary Berry

 23 May 2017  Blog

Best-selling food author and TV presenter, Mary Berry has published more than 75 cookery books - and her top-seller, "The Baking Bible" has been credited with the resurgence in home baking across the UK.

Baking must have been in her genes, as Mary's great-great-grandfather, Robert Houghton, was a master baker in the 1860s.


Early life

Unsurprisingly, she excelled at domestic science at Bath High School, where her teacher, Miss Date, praised her cooking ability. The first thing she baked was a treacle sponge, which she took home for her family to eat. The youngster was told it was as good as her mother's.

She survived polio aged 13, spending three months in hospital. She was left with a twisted spine and weakened left hand but instead of feeling sorry for herself, she said it had "toughened her up" and taught her to make the most of every opportunity she may have in the future.



Her first job was at Bath's Electricity Board showroom, where her duties included visiting customers at their own home to demonstrate how to use their new oven. She did this by baking a Victoria sponge; a technique she continued using throughout her television career to test any new oven in the studio.

Mary later studied institutional management and catering at Bath College of Domestic Science. On leaving at the age of 21, she studied at France's Le Cordon Bleu school before working in a number of cookery-related jobs - these included a stint with the Dutch Dairy Bureau and also a period as a recipe tester for PR firm, Benson's. It was at this time that she began to write her first book and in 1966, she joined Housewife Magazine as food editor. Between 1970 and 1973, Mary enjoyed being the Ideal Home magazine's food editor.

As well as being a career woman, in 1966 she married Paul Hunnings and the couple had three children.



Her first book, The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook, was published in 1970 and she has since published more than 75 cookery books. With daughter Annabel, Mary launched her own product range of salad dressings and sauces in 1994 - these are sold in the UK, Germany and Ireland. From 2010 until 2016, Mary was also a judge on the long-running and very successful BBC TV programme, The Great British Bake Off.


Mary's recipes

Her legendary recipes are used all over the world. Mary's desserts and cakes are particularly popular, with their luscious toppings of fresh fruit and cream that are loved by "foodies" everywhere. Among her most popular sweet dishes are baked berry cheesecake that includes fresh blueberries, raspberries and red currants with whipped double cream; and the luxurious pistachio and raspberry pavlova with butterscotch sauce, which uses a full 12 ounces of fresh raspberries.

The secret to creating delicious desserts is to use fresh fruit rather than frozen or tinned - to get that "just picked" taste. A popular summer fruit which is easy to cultivate, nothing could be fresher than growing your own raspberries. Even just a few raspberry plants will produce plenty of fruit from mid-summer until autumn. They are perfect for any size garden and are simple to grow, as long as you make sure they aren't attacked by the birds. Sparrows and starlings in particular live on a diet of fruit and insects and they can ruin your crop if you're not careful.


Henry Cowls' range of fruit cages will protect your raspberries and other crops - to make sure you enjoy the fruits of your labour before the birds do!

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