As a young boy what's better than licking the cake mix bowl empty or stealing the first warm cakes from the oven? Fast forward about 20 years and I'm still exactly the same but now I'm playing around with warm chocolate ganache and pies!
I grew up with homemade meals and as soon as I left home this attitude kind of stuck. At university friends would come round and we'd all cook together before we went out. I guess this is where I started getting into baking, I started by making bread and soon caught the bug. I took it as a bit of a mission to try and get it better and better and the results, and be they good or bad, tasted incredible, so much better than something shop-bought. Once you start it's hard to go back and my friends loved it.
Entering into The Great British Bake Off definitely improved my baking skills, many-a-night was spent looking at recipes and figuring out how I could incorporate them into my own baking. The impact the programme has had has been phenomenal, someone approached me in a pub and told me that he was going to go home and bake a cake because of it and a white van man wound down his window to shout how he thought I did well on the show. It's not just women who watched the programme, everyone has caught the baking bug!
The rise of the male baker hasn't been missed. When the show was on, loads of blokes were tweeting me asking for tips, fashion designer Henry Holland even suggested a bake off, and some of the best bakers in the country are blokes.
Something I was keen to show during filming was that anyone can bake, you just need to give it a go. Plus, I was keen to show baking isn't just about cakes, it's so much more than that! This is why I signed up to Lurpak's Bake Club (www.bakeclub.co.uk) and started one for me and my housemates.
Bake Club is the easiest way to have your cake and eat it! Guaranteed instant satisfaction and of course, brownie points for the best baker! But, it's not just about cake...Great breads are easy to achieve and homemade pastry on top of a pie is easy - I urge everyone to try making it. My quest for finding the perfect loaf of bread and the best croissant in London has regularly had me visiting various bakeries and has become a bit of an obsession. Currently top spots (get ready for shameless plugs): go to Ottollenghi on Upper Street (in Angel, London) for the best croissant and St Johns Restaurant in Spitalfields for the best bread. If you're ever in Spitalfields Market you should visit them, their breads are to die for and the food they serve is out of this world.
Due to the rising popularity of baking it has become less of a female-ruled world which is great and I think it's always good to get as many people involved as possible. I've never thought of it as a 'girly' passion and I don't really see it as any different to cooking, it's just a different method of doing it. As well as baking I'm also a massive foodie and spend hours making meals, I eat three times a day so I might as well do it well, right? I definitely share the European idea of - 'I don't eat to live, I live to eat.'
The first rule of Bake Club is to tell everyone about Bake Club! The idea of it is simple - to get friends to bake for each other and share the fun of baking. Things don't always turn out how they should but who cares? It always tastes great! The first thing you'll notice is how much better and fresher it tastes than pre-packed bought stuff. And making a mess when cooking is one of the best bits.
When you have a Bake Club session you can upload your pictures to www.bakeclub.co.uk and then everyone can see your bakes and rate them. It's all a bit of fun. A great idea is to hold your own little bake off and then you can rib each other to see who's best and you also get loads of great bakes to eat. What could go wrong...? Just try not to drop anything!
I will be hosting a Facebook Q&A session on Lurpak's Facebook page tomorrow (Wednesday 19th October) from 1pm to 2pm.
To get my hints and tips for creating the best bread, pies or cakes, or to hear about my time on TGBBO log on at http://www.facebook.com/LurpakButter