Food: There’s little better than letting them eat cake

Lisa Faulkner
Lisa Faulkner
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We’re all busy - but there’s always time to sit down for some soul-soothing cake, as Lisa Faulkner says

Lisa Faulkner has a lot to thank Celebrity MasterChef for. Since winning the show in 2010, the former Holby City actress has carved out a second career as a TV cook, and released three recipe books.

The BBC One show was also where she met Australian chef John Torode, the firm-but-fair judge who eventually became her boyfriend.

“I took on three jobs at the same time as MasterChef, thinking I would only be in it for a day, and I ended up in it until the end. That was amazing,” the 43-year-old says.

Torode - who she began dating in 2012 - is “lovely, very lovely”, according to Faulkner, who has an eight-year-old daughter, Billie, from her marriage to actor Chris Coghill.

“Somebody said, ‘So what’s it like at home when you’re both cooking?’ It’s just like we’re both cooking! It’s not like he’s going, ‘Oh, you need to do that’, or, ‘Hurry Lisa, you’ve got five minutes!’,” she adds with a laugh.

Things have been busy recently, with the release of her third cookbook, Tea & Cake.

“I wanted to do a book that was just about things that I liked, and memories of tea in days gone by when I was little - things like sandwiches and cake and tins of biscuits,” Faulkner explains.

“We run around so much and we are all crazy busy,” she adds. “We can get so caught up in everything that’s going on, and sometimes just to stop for five minutes with a cup of tea in a pot and a piece of cake, it’s like, ‘Do you know what? Everything’s actually all right’.”

Faulkner has also been collaborating with kitchen appliance makers Hotpoint, on a campaign encouraging the nation to love their kitchens and explore their cooking potential (learn more at www.hotpoint.co.uk). She is keen to stress that image isn’t everything when it comes to baking.

“If you’ve made a cake for somebody you love and there are little dents in it, or the icing falls down the cake, it’s how it tastes, who you’ve made it for and why you’ve made it [that counts],” she says.

“My grandma was properly slapdash, but she was an amazing cook.”

Billie, who Faulkner adopted in 2006 when she was 15 months old, is also a keen chef.

“She loves to cook and bake, and set the table, anything to do with food, she’s well into. She likes making pastry and bread, and she loves making chicken noodle soup. I feel so very grateful to have her that I spend as much time as possible with her,” adds Faulkner, who was 16 when her mother Julie died of cancer. “She and I are a right little team.”

While best known for her culinary prowess these days, she hasn’t bid farewell to her acting career.

“I went for something the other day - that I didn’t get, sadly - but it was nice to go in again,” she says. “What’s exciting for me is that I’ll only go for characters that I want.”

As for turning 43 earlier this year, she confesses: “I don’t feel like I’m grown up enough to be 43, I feel like a child!

CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Ingredients

125g plain flour

Pinch of salt

60g caster sugar

2tsp baking powder

2tbsp cocoa powder

120ml milk

40g butter, melted

1 egg

1-2 drops of vanilla extract

For the topping:

180g muscovado sugar

2tbsp cocoa powder

250ml boiling water

Method

Sift the flour, salt, caster sugar, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl.

Combine the milk, butter, egg and vanilla extract in another bowl, then mix the wet and dry ingredients together.

Pour the mixture into a 1-litre pie dish. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge overnight to set.

The next day, preheat the oven to 180C (350F)/gas mark 4. Sprinkle the muscovado sugar and cocoa powder over the pudding and pour the boiling water over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until the pudding is puffy and firm in the centre.

Remove from the oven and serve with pouring cream or ice cream.