'After 50 years I've finally got the hang of parsnips!'

Fellow Bake Off contestants Kim Joy and Terry had lunch and a good old catch-up with Karen.
Fellow Bake Off contestants Kim Joy and Terry had lunch and a good old catch-up with Karen.

Great British Bake Off star KAREN WRIGHT welcomes readers to her new weekly column.

It’s been a knockout week for me and packed full of fun.

I have managed to get my fingers in so many pies it’s been a full-time job trying to juggle them. They are not actual pies of course, although I am very partial to a pie, especially just now with it being so dark and cold outdoors.

However, my new weight loss regime does not allow for pies - well, not the ones that include pastry, so I have been a bit crafty with the root vegetables especially parsnips.

My Grandpa Ernie was a big fan of parsnips but his big pan full of homegrown ones boiling away on the hob never appealed - it has taken the best part of fifty years for me to get the hang of them.

The start of the week was a real high point. I had lunch with two of the other Bake Off 2018 bakers, Kim Joy and Terry. All twelve of us stay in contact but geographically we are spread about the country, so it is hard to get all of us together.

Terry lives in the Midlands, but he was visiting friends in Sheffield, so we decided to get together somewhere between Sheffield and Wakefield. I thought Elsecar Heritage centre
would fit the bill so that was our venue.

I asked Kim Joy, who lives in Leeds, and Luke and Rahul, who live near Sheffield, if they could join us but they both had work commitments - fortunately Kim Joy could make the date.

It was a bright sunny day and off we went to one of the cafes. I had checked online that it was dog friendly as Terry had his little Megan with him. When we went in, they explained that there was a separate room for dogs and their owners in an annex. We were the only people in there so we could have a real good catch up with what we had been up to since Bake Off.

I realised afterwards that nobody had ordered cake! I think we have all seen a bit too much cake recently.

The waitress realised who we were, so we had a photo session outside with them which was fun.

My oldest daughter Kit visited this week. She lives in Brighton with her partner Finn and my adorable granddaughter Silke who is two years old. They came along to meet Kim Joy as Silke was the inspiration for her pie on pastry week on Bake Off.

Silke is a vegetarian child and this appealed to Kim Joy and she made a beautiful pie that she announced to the camera was “Silke the vegetarian mermaid”. A mermaid
shaped pie!

Having vegetarians in the house can be a challenge, mainly because I have a very carnivorous husband John, so my repertoire is limited. I did get inventive with a bag of sprouts though and with the help of a handful of kale, a lemon and bit of tahini made a scrumptious winter salad. Hear that everyone, scrumptious sprouts...

I have been asked to pop in to the Wakefield Gymnastic Club training sessions this week and say hello.

It is a bake sale too to raise funds for their trip to compete in Canada, so I am taking along a cake to raffle off. It has turned out great, but it is always a worry when making something for a special occasion, what to do if the bony finger of cake disaster gremlin is pointing at you?

It happened to me on cake week in the tent. My glorious three-tiered chocolate collar cake had worked out beautifully and was safely chilling in the fridge. Or so I thought.

When I took it out to present to Paul and Prue, I could see the back of the bottom collar was broken. I had unwittingly pushed the cake into the light fitting at the back of the fridge. What to do?

I cast around and spotted a large bobbin of red ribbon. I had brought an assortment of things with me for just such an occasion. I made a big curly ponytail out of it and skewered it in to hide the damage. Perfect. I almost got a Hollywood handshake!

Those were the highlights of my week so far. Please visit my website at www.karenwrightbakes.co.uk if you have any questions, comments or just want to say hello or have a look around at my pages.

I’ll leave you with a Karen quote from the tent whilst looking in the oven window.

“Well, if it’s burnt it's done”.