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Interview: Bad Girl Bakery

BEYOND WORDS | We couldn’t explore the theme ‘beyond words’ without diving into the world of cookbooks. We chat to Jeni Iannetta, founder of Bad Girl Bakery and author of the book of the same name, bringing baking to the masses in a fantastic, mouth-watering way.

What drew you to set up Bad Girl Bakery? What’s the bakery’s background?

Having my own bakery had always been a fantasy, but just it was that.  It was more ‘how lovely would that be’ not something I though would happen.  I moved to the highlands to be with my now husband. He was a single father and we decided that setting up an at home bakery would be a great way to bring in some income and get to know Felix.   It just expanded from there, very quickly!

The highlands is a great place for small scale produces with food fairs and markets and customers who will travel to buy what they like.  I went from baking a few cakes a week at home to opening the bakery, cafe and wholesale bakery pretty quickly.

What part has baking played in your own life? Has it always been present, or something that developed over the years?

It wasn’t something I got into until later life really.  My sister is an incredible cook and prefers savoury to sweet, so I always made cake and puddings for get togethers.  I also baked when I was stressed (I worked in communications and marketing for big organisations) and began to realise that a career change could be the answer!

“I hope baking from Bad Girl Bakery makes [people] happy! I hope they feel proud of what they’ve done and enjoy eating and sharing it.”

How did you find the process of writing a cookbook? How do you approach whittling down and choosing recipes?

When Emily approached me, I couldn’t quite  believe it. It’s not something I ever thought we’d do.  When we came up with a new recipe in the book we’d always joke and say ‘this one should go in the book’, little did we know!

I absolutely loved the process.  Emily and her team at Kitchen Press were fantastic as I had absolutely no idea what was involved.  I balked at the idea of coming up with so many recipes and Emily said we’d have far more than we realised and she was right!

It was pretty simple, We chose the ones we loved the most.  The ones that never failed and were impressive without being difficult or time consuming.  We wrote new recipes for the book too, which was so much fun.

I really wanted the book to be friendly, approachable and fun to use.  The kind of book that gets grubby and tattered! 

As we’re in the peak of summer at present – are there any particular recipes you’d highlight as being a perfect complement for the heat?

Oh, good question!  Anything with fruit works well.  The blueberry, lime and coconut loaf is so easy and summery, or the summer berries cupcake if you’re looking for something pretty and impressive, but easy to put together.

We saw that Nigella Lawson had picked your cookbook as part of her cookbook corner – how did that feel? What have been some highlights since releasing the book?

Oh, my goodness. That was such an incredible thing to happen.  She’s my absolute food hero and I started my baking career baking from her books. The Easter egg cake from Feast was a firm favourite. To have her say such lovely things about our book is not something I ever imagined happening.  I’ve read the review so often I probably know it by heart!   Her support of other authors  is incredible generous and kind. 

What advice would you give to those hoping to get more into baking, but unsure where to start?

I’d say find a simple recipe you want to eat, that you’re excited about. Take your time, read it through and weigh everything out before you start .  Mastering one good recipe is great for building confidence and skills to move on to other,  more complicated things.

“I really wanted the book to be friendly, approachable and fun to use. The kind of book that gets grubby and tattered!”

What do you hope readers take from your book?

I hope baking from it makes them happy! I hope they flick through it and see lots and lots of things they want to bake.  Mostly I hope they feel proud of what they’ve done and enjoy eating and sharing it.  Every time someone tags us in a post about out something they have baked, it makes me incredibly proud and happy.

Bad Girl Bakery by Jeni Iannetta is published by Kitchen Press.