Since starting genealogy in 1987 I have spent hours and hours mapping out my family tree. To learn about my ancestors, where they lived and what they did for a living has become very intriguing and important to me.
One of my other passions has always been baking and to date I have only found two professional Bakers in my lineage. George Pearson, my 4x Great Grandfather and his son William. So is it in my DNA?
Recently however after many many years of baking I have had to follow a gluten free diet – so baking cakes and eating cake has lost some of its lustre and is currently on the back burner. Once I get used to being gluten free I may experiment with gluten free cakes – time will tell.
Luckily this has meant more time for research. not to mention, weight loss, so always an upside. My love of cooking comes from my childhood as my Mum, Katherine (known as Kay) produced some very tasty food, she particularly liked making pastry, nearly always shortcrust but sometimes suet for that delicious steak and kidney pud and very occasionally rough puff.
I remember lots and lots of apple pies, sometimes in a Pyrex dish with a pastry lid, sometimes a plate tart with a pastry bottom and top but always with lashings of custard – not the posh made from scratch stuff but the Birds custard powder variety.
The list is endless from roast dinners, treacle tarts, treacle puddings, spotted dick, jam tarts, mince pies and she would always find time to make peanut brittle. Although we didn’t spend much time in the kitchen together she certainly inspired me. I was very much encouraged to enter the Abbey Park Show with jam tarts, shortbread, jam – see prizes.
As time came to leave school I was keen to be a domestic science teacher but it was decided that 2 years doing A levels and 3 years at teacher training college was not an option. Instead I spent 2 years at South Fields College taking a City & Guilds Hotel and Catering qualification. Although I learnt a lot at college we cooked for large numbers, not really of interest to me. So on leaving college I started work as a hotel receptionist and kept baking as a hobby.
My Dad, Don, was also a good cook when he decided to step into the kitchen. His main accomplishment was a full english breakfast on a Sunday morning, home-made horseradish sauce that blew your socks off and Dundee cake.
As a child I was always pinching the candied peel out of my Mum’s jar. Loved the taste and the crystallised sugar that formed in the middle. By dipping my hand into the jar quite often when Mum came to make my Dad’s favourite Madeira cake, there would only be a small piece left at the bottom of the jar! Boy did I get into trouble.