• Meet BakeClub founder and our Bakeproof columnist, Anneka Manning. (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson
Meet our everyday baker Anneka Manning. She'll be sharing her 25 years' baking experience in her new fortnightly online column, Bakeproof. Here she reveals why regularly donning your apron and mitt is good for the soul.
April Smallwood

4 Apr 2014 - 4:41 PM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2014 - 3:54 PM

What was for breakfast this morning? Breakfast was muesli, a fresh juice and a cup of peppermint tea. How did you come to love baking as you do? I grew up in rural NSW and was the only kid in primary school ordering cookbooks through the Scholastic catalogue. I had a mum who was a very good baker but she preferred the garden, so was happy for me to take over the kitchen. You're the founder of BakeClub, which runs workshops and publishes recipes and how-to videos. What sparked the idea? After spending 23 years in magazines, newspapers, books – basically various food-related media – I was retrenched, and so I thought to myself, "What am I gonna do with this knowledge and passion?".

Who do you bake for? Outside of work, it’s friends and family who come for a meal. I’ll often bake something for dessert or we’ll do some beautiful flatbreads for entrée. Are expectations always sky high? I don’t know! It’s more me putting pressure on me than anyone else. What's the first dessert you mastered? I do remember my dad used to love cinnamon tea cake. I must have been 7 or 8, and I would bake that for him often. It’d be a Sunday and we’d have it for afternoon tea.

In your book, Bake, Eat, Love, you write, "Cook to your skill and choose a recipe suited to your ability". So don't pick something that's out of your depth? Yes, being able to recognise what your skill level is and then choose a recipe that suits is important. If you want to make a pavlova, ask yourself, "Do I have a whisk or a Mixmaster with a whisk?". If you don’t, choose something else. Identify what your skill set is and, from there, start challenging yourself. It makes sense. No-one really expects to just be good at piano... But they assume they’ll be expert bakers after one attempt! Which of your recipes is a good one for beginners? The mini baked jam doughnuts? Absolutely. That's one we teach at our No Time to Bake class and it’s great. It’s a good little one-bowl mix with almost instant rewards. People go, "Wow, these are great!". The orange cake in a food processor is also really good. Why should we bake more? Think about it – there are not many things you can do that touches on your five senses, and baking does just that: you smell, you taste, you touch, you see, you hear. It brings everything together. And it leaves you with beautiful memories. You walk in a room and smell cinnamon, or a butter-and-sugar baking smell, and it takes you back to a pleasurable time in your life. It’s not brain surgery, but God can it make people feel good.


Read Anneka's column, Bakeproof. This week she explores Easter baking rituals from around the world. 


Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.