As the competition on this year’s Great British Bake Off hots up, star baker extraordinaire Richard Burr shows us how to whip up a storm in the kitchen
Maybe it’s the pencil behind the ear. Maybe it’s the consistency that saw him scoop the most Star Baker accolades the programme’s ever seen. Or maybe it’s his delectable, down-to-earth demeanour, which never saw him flap, fluster or throw a Baked Alaska in the bin.
And while a new crew of bakers craft their showstoppers in this year’s series, 39-year-old Burr has been beavering away releasing his first cookbook.
“I got to spend the whole winter making all of my favourite food,” he tells me in the kitchen of his North London home, all doe-eyed and dimples.
The house, which was derelict when he bought it and lovingly restored with his own fair hands (he runs a building firm with his dad), has seen a fair bit of action of late. The entire book was shot, cover to cover, here (“the crew all but moved in”), and includes lovely images of old tools from Burr’s toolbox, including his beloved grandfather’s saw.
Baking has always filled a delicious hole in Burr’s life.
“Mum baked cakes and kept us alive, but I got a Saturday job in a bakery and scrumped as many doughnuts as I could. That’s where my love of baking really comes from,” he says, as he lays out the ingredients to make the millefeuille recipe from his book, BIY: Bake It Yourself.
“And now I cook with the kids. I’m an early bird, so I’ll often be kicking around with the girls in the morning, and if it’s a choice between cooking in the kitchen or watching Nickelodeon, I’d rather have them in here with me.”
After the success of Bake Off and landing a book deal, you’d be forgiven for thinking he might decide to knock the hard graft of building on the head. But building is a big part of Burr’s life - evident as he draws out his steel tape measure to size up the slices of cooked puff pastry.
“The business went huge after Bake Off,” he reveals, whipping out some piping bags and wandering about the hub of his home, sporting a T-shirt, jeans and bright green socks. “I could have just used it to expand, but I wanted to have some fun with food, too. I try not to say ‘no’ to anything.”
Indeed, he has a degree in biodiversity and conservation - which he took on while doing Bake Off and running a building firm, and he somehow managed to get a first.
Burr’s also a keen fisherman. And now, he’s an author, too.
“My favourite recipes from the book include the blackberry and elderflower pavlovas. My wife is actually pathologically addicted to them. The millefeuilles are great, and there’s a brilliant mincemeat muffin in there, that doesn’t look much, but once you have it, you’ll never eat mince pies again.”
Fancy baking some of Richard Burr’s creations for yourself? Give this tasty treats a whirl...