Shropshire's Diana Beard, who will feature on The Great British Bake Off for the first time tonight (Wednesday) at 8pm on BBC1, shares her top 10 baking tips.
1. Weigh out all ingredients carefully before putting together your bake.
2. Use eggs at room temperature.
3. When making pastry, keep everything cold and be patient.
4. This might sound silly, but it is essential to keep all utensils clean.
5. When making a sponge cake, weigh the eggs and then use the same weight of fat, flour and sugar.
6. The best shortcrust pastry is made using margarine and lard, ie 2oz margarine, 2oz lard, 8oz plain flour.
7. Oven temperature is a lifelong debate. I always bake at 10° less than the recipe recommends and mostly on top and bottom heat setting. Getting to know your oven is quite a mystery!
8. Don’t become brainwashed into buying fancy gadgets, it doesn’t make your baking any better, it just adds to the washing up. I’m still using my mother’s rolling pin.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, share recipes and tips with other bakers, we’re a friendly bunch.
10. Finally, keep it simple, but as my Grandmother used to say, “cream never spoilt anything.”