Culinary extraordinaire Nadiya Hussain has had a whirlwind of a year.
Since winning The Great British Bake Off in 2015, Hussain, 31, has gone on to bake a birthday cake for the Queen, star in her own two-part TV series and, just this week, release her very own children’s recipe book ‘Bake Me A Story’.
She caught up with The Huffington Post UK to chat about her one-pot meal obsession, who she believes will win this year’s Bake Off, plus the baking disaster that “still hurts”.
While preparing a pea and mint risotto recipe from her new children’s book ‘Bake Me A Story’, Hussain - who has three young children - reveals her favourite food to cook at home is a one-pot dish like stew, which is great for big families.
“I love them,” she says. “They’re easy and you can get the kids to do a lot of it. I always make masses of food and then we’ll have it for dinner and I’ll freeze the rest up in batches.”
She adds: “If you can make one pot of something, freeze it and be creative, you can do whatever you want.
“In our house we love things like bolognese, so I’ll make a big bolognese and we’ll have it with spaghetti sometimes, or as a chilli with rice, or with sour cream, or just as a burrito.”
Nadiya is well known for her unusual - and often exotic - flavour pairings (the cod and clementine curry she cooks as a farewell meal in ‘Chronicles Of Nadiya is testament to this). She says one of her favourite things to do in the kitchen is experiment with fresh fruit and herbs.
“I love doing things like mango and parsley, banana and basil, strawberry and mint,” she explains. “Herbs work really, really well with fresh fruit.”
While Hussain is a pro in the kitchen (and has the trophy to prove it), that’s not to say every bake is successful.
Speaking about a time where everything went wrong, she recalls: “I was baking a liquid chocolate cake, made using boiling water, and I put it in a loose-bottom tin but didn’t clip it properly, so it was slightly wonky and there was a little gap [at the base of the tin].
“I put it in the oven and didn’t realise there was a slow leak throughout the 50-minute bake.
“I opened up the oven and all of the cake batter was at the bottom of the oven and there was no cake batter in the tin.
“I don’t talk about it much now. It still hurts.”
Discussing this year’s Bake Off, Hussain reveals she really likes Selasi (”he is so cool”), Andrew and Val, but thinks either Benjamina or Candice will win.
When asked about who she likes more out of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, she jokes: “Do you know what, they’re both as mean as one another, so I don’t really know who I like more.
“They’re very different judges, they have very different skills.
“What you don’t see sometimes is that Mary is like the grandma that you already have, but you want another one.
“And Paul is really sensitive. You don’t see the bits where you get upset and he’ll just come up and give you a hug and say, ‘you’ll be fine’.”
She adds that her number one highlight since winning Bake Off has to be baking the Queen’s birthday cake.
“You can’t beat the Queen’s cake,” she says. “That was the biggest thing ever.
“I even toyed with the idea of not doing it, I was like, ‘oh no, I can’t do it’, and I had this conversation for two days with my husband.
“I was like, ‘why would the Queen want me to do her birthday cake?’ and my husband was like, ‘why wouldn’t she?’”
“I very rarely listen to him,” she laughs. “But that time I did - and I’m glad I did.”