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Editorial blog

Festive Baking Focus: Sandra Monger Interview

13 Nov 2020

Tell us a bit about yourself (how did you start baking and cake decorating) and your company Sandra Monger Cake Design?

“I have always loved baking, making and craft, so when I grew tired of my previous career it seemed the natural thing to do. I started my own business almost 20 years ago and have seen lots of changes in cake styles. The ever-increasing popularity of baking brings new ideas and talent. In the current situation with people spending more time at home, baking is a great thing to learn and do and you can involve the whole family.” Tell us about your latest book, Modern Gingerbread “I’ve always loved baking and making with gingerbread, so when I was asked to write a book about it I was very excited. I’m really pleased how it has turned out. The styling and the photography are great and I really enjoyed working with the team at Search Press.”

Who is the book aimed at?

“Hopefully as many people as possible, from beginners to experienced bakers. The idea was that beginners can develop essential skills as they work through the projects in the book. I like to think of it as a gingerbread journey! For experienced bakers, there are new baking and decorating techniques. I hope that everyone who uses the book will be able to incorporate these into their own creative journeys.”

What sets this book apart from its competitors?

“I have tried to be experimental with how gingerbread can be used, not just in terms of how it can be baked and decorated but the kind of things you can make with it. Gingerbread can be cool all year round, not just in winter, so I hope that the different projects reflect this, too.”

Do you have any tips for beginners?

“I would encourage beginners to first familiarise themselves with the sections on tools, materials, recipes and techniques. Weighing and measuring accurately are also important. Practice makes perfect, so paying attention to detail and taking your time really do help to achieve the best results. However the most important thing is to have fun.”

How long does it take you to complete an average piece (from the book) from start to finish?

“It really depends on the project. Obviously simpler projects are quicker. To make a batch of cookies or a sharing square could take up to a couple of hours by the time you have weighed, mixed, rolled, baked and washed up. Some of the more complex projects such as ‘Picture Purrfect’ or the gingerbread houses can be done over several days, allowing you to do a bit at a time. As you develop your skills you will find you can do things quicker.”

Why do you think gingerbread has remained a staple tradition for crafters at Christmas?

“The delicious warmth, spice and the lovely aroma make it ideally suited to Christmas. Also making gingerbread decorations is all part of the fun and excitement leading up to it. It’s a wonderful way to keep kids, including grown up ones, occupied, especially if it’s cold, wet and windy outside.”

Do you think that baking will be even bigger for Christmas this year due to covid? What kind of response to Christmas have you seen so far?

“If people have to spend more time at home, they might find baking their way through the extra time they have an enjoyable and therapeutic way to get through these difficult times. Baking is quite a simple pleasure, but I have always believed simple pleasures are the best! Times are so uncertain at the moment who knows how Christmas will be. I hope it will be safe for everyone.”

What are the key trends in terms of baking decoration right now? Are bakers moving away from traditional looks?

“As we are coming into autumn and approaching Christmas, seasonal trends, including gingerbread come to the fore. There’s always space for tradition. If you look at many things that are thought of as modern, there’s often an element of the past and tradition in them. Christmas is always a time for tradition, and I guess in these difficult and stressful times, tradition, especially in relation to food can offer some much needed comfort and reassurance.”

Do you have any exciting plans for the rest of 2020? Or 2021?

“Due to the current situation a lot of things have had to be put on hold this year, but 2021 looks like it’s going to be a busy one, as a lot of my customers have postponed their celebrations until then. In the meantime I’m baking and experimenting and thinking about future projects. Watch this space!”

Sandra’s book, Modern Gingerbread is available now from Search Press, RRP £12.99. ISBN: 9781782216735. Go to www.searchpress.com/trade

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