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Mary Berry’s Easter Feast

With Easter just around the corner, celebrity chef Mary Berry has been rustling up some tasty treats that you can try at home. Her television series, Mary Berry's Easter Feast, is full of ideas for seasonal recipes, gathered from across the UK. Recipes prepared by the legendary TV chef are easy to follow and quick to prepare - and they look and taste fabulous!

Berry, aged 83, has been a whizz in the kitchen since she was at school, so she’s familiar with passing on her expertise through her many cookery shows. So far, she has published more than 70 cookery books and has presented a multitude of TV series, including perhaps her most famous, The Great British Bake Off.

Hot Cross Buns

© anna_shepulova / Adobe Stock


Early years

Berry's interest in cooking was awakened when she began taking domestic science classes at Bath High School in the 1940s. She said she was "hopeless" academically, until she began her cookery classes with teacher Miss Date, who was "very encouraging".

The first thing Berry made was treacle sponge, which she took home for her family to try. She felt heartened when they enjoyed it and her lifelong interest in cooking began in earnest.

On leaving school, her first job was demonstrating electric ovens at the Electricity Board showroom in Bath. When customers bought an oven, Berry would go to their home to show them how to use it. She would do so by baking a Victoria sponge, which became her trademark recipe.


Career highlights

This was the start of Berry's long career in baking. She moved to London and began studying for her City and Guilds in cookery at night classes, while working for the Dutch Dairy Bureau during the day.

She completed her training as a chef at the Bath School of Home Economics and the legendary Cordon Bleu in Paris. She became cookery editor of Housewife magazine in the 1960s, followed by a stint as cookery editor of Ideal Home magazine. This led to her career as an author and she wrote her first cookery book, The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook, in 1970, before going on to write many more books offering easy recipes.

In the early 1970s, Berry also launched her TV career on the daytime series, Judith Chalmers' Afternoon Plus. She continued her career in the 1980s by writing more recipe books and filming additional series for the BBC.


Cookery school

In the 1990s, Berry ran a cookery school, the Aga Workshops, from her own home. More than 12,000 students attended her courses, which ran for 16 years. In the mid-1990s, Berry and her daughter, Annabel, created Mary Berry's Salad Dressing, which was a big success.


Easter Feast

Mary Berry's Easter Feast explores the Easter traditions of different communities in the UK - she prepares a special banquet as the grand finale.

As well as looking at dishes from across the country, Berry's own recipes have featured in the show. One of her most popular traditional dishes is Easter simnel cake, combining rich fruit cake with a marzipan topping.

The cake has an interesting history, as it used to be given by girls who worked in domestic service to their mother when they went home for Mothering Sunday. The cake traditionally has 11 almond-paste balls, which represent the 11 apostles, not including Judas.

Berry also baked traditional hot cross buns, as Easter wouldn't be complete without this famous dish. She says her tasty recipe for hot cross buns is "completely foolproof", so everyone should be able to make them successfully.

Easter Feast revealed the origins of hot cross buns, which began in St Albans. They were originally called “Alban buns” in the 14th century. The small, spiced, sweet buns, decorated with a cross, were given free to local and impoverished communities in the early years as a charity gift.

The original hot cross buns had only a few spices and currants. Berry's modern version contains plenty of mixed fruit and lots of butter, giving them their unique rich taste.

This year, Easter begins with Good Friday on 19th April, so would-be chefs have plenty of time to prepare for the special weekend by brushing up on their baking skills.

Whether you're cooking at home or in a workplace environment, rubber mats can help to prevent accidents and provide some welcome comfort for tired legs in a busy kitchen.

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