“There’s only so long you can talk, in everyday life, about how much cinnamon you like in your buns before someone’s like, ‘OK, enough’,” says Frances Quinn with a laugh.
The former Joules designer is giddily recalling the joy of spending a summer in the Great British Bake Off tent, nattering with her fellow bakers, who were all as obsessed with ingredients as she is.
Despite weekly digs from judges Paul ‘twinkly eyes’ Hollywood and Mary Berry for going all out on style, sometimes at the expense of substance, Quinn still claimed the Bake Off crown (well, apron) in 2013, and since then has created a slew of tasty public masterpieces - including piano shortbread for Jools Holland, a giant Club biscuit surrounded with sweet Bombay mix for indie band Bombay Bicycle Club, and even a cheesecake inspired by Matisse.
Now, finally, the 33-year-old is releasing her first book, aptly named Quintessential Baking and packed full of cakes and sweet treats.
“I suppose the book is like my baking: that mix of baking and design, so the ingredients are as important as the ideas,” she says.
Judge for yourself and try one of Frances’s recipes.
MARMALADE CAT-FLAPJACKS (Makes 12 flapjack rounds)
100g golden caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2tbsp shredless marmalade
200g porridge oats
20g dark chocolate - orange-flavoured if you like
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
Put the butter, sugar, orange zest and marmalade in a pan over a medium heat and warm, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the oats, combining thoroughly.
Spoon the mixture into a lined 12-hole muffin tin - you’ll need about 37g of mixture in each hole, which will mean each hole is just under half full.
Level the mixture with the back of a teaspoon. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Leave to cool.
Melt the dark chocolate and paint a chocolate pawprint on the top of each flapjack. Leave to set before serving.