Grandmothers can keep baking alive: MasterChef Poh
ASK anyone over the age of 50 if they have a memory of sitting in the kitchen and watching their mother bake, and the answer will surely be a resounding yes.
While Poh (Ling Yeow) is not yet 50, she certainly has a vivid memory of baking with her mother from the age of nine, and she says this learning from her mum is what really is behind her propulsion to national celebrity status via way of MasterChef.
"On weekends Mum, who baked fiendishly, took painstaking care training me up on things like how to line a tin meticulously," she says in the forward of her new book, Poh Bakes 100 Greats.
"I remember as if it were yesterday, the moment that she taught me the invaluable skill of folding flour into batter, explaining why it had to be done 'just like so'."
With today's mothers juggling careers and child-rearing along with myriad other daily demands, it could be a case of baking tips and strategies no longer being passed down through the generations.
But Poh thinks grandmothers can play an important role in keeping baking alive, along with the all-precious tradition of passing on family recipes to generations to come.
"I think baking has gained a resurgence in popularity and one of the reasons is that it transports people back to their childhoods, cooking with Nan or Mum, sitting on the benchtop watching, having this delicious thing at the end to share with her," Poh said.
Small but important baking techniques learnt from our mothers and grandmothers stay with us for the rest of our lives - this writer still greases a cake tin with the butter wrapper as she saw her mother do countless times, and still sifts and flour and baking powder meticulously as taught - and Poh believes, as mothers and grandmothers we can keep these precious customs and small rituals alive.
"Baking with children is unique in that there is not too much danger, you are mostly using round, blunt objects, wooden spoons and so on," she said.
"So it is relatively safe to have children and grandchildren in the kitchen. It's very gentle and child-friendly.
"And then there is that thing of sitting down and the finish and having a cup of tea with your results.
"All the world's problems can be sold with a cup of tea and something newly baked."
For anyone who thinks they can't bake and can't share skills with the next generation, Poh says it is never to late to start, and to learn with children and grandchildren as you go along could be something special for everyone involved.
"Don't use a packet mix even though it's tempting," she said.
"Make a muffin, start with that. Then just add a few extra ingredients. Do something that doesn't use much technique. It's a great way to teach children and grandchildren and to spend valuable time with them."
Poh Bakes 100 Greats is packed with delicious and inspiring recipes with chapters including Oldies but Goodies, Bake Sale Beauties, Frills and Thrills, Adventure Bakes. There is even a selection of the best savouries and a dog biscuit recipe.
"I am always a bit concerned by the lack of regulations with pet food," Poh said.
"When I have the time I like to make things for my furry ones. Baking is my first love. If I could have had my way, a book about baking would have been my first published book. Because of MasterChef I didn't come out as a baker immediately, but it is my best love."
Poh Bakes 100 Greats, Murdoch Books, $39.99.