Everyone has a dish that brings back childhood memories, and one to pass on to the next generation. Here, the Great British Bake Off presenter shares her family recipes with us.
Actress, presenter and comedian Mel Giedroyc has worked alongside Sue Perkins since they met at Cambridge University. They have presented Bake Off since it began in 2010. Mel is married to Ben Morris, who works in television. They live in London with their daughters, Florence and Vita.
The recipe I grew up with...
My Polish granny – Babunia – lived with us throughout the Seventies. She cooked a lot of Polish food and passed on this tradition to my English mum. The bedrock of any Polish kitchen is buckwheat – kasza – with a delicious mushroom sauce. It’s almost like risotto and very comforting. We eat it with buraczki, which is cooked beetroot that my mum grates and mixes with crème fraîche or soured cream and a bit of horseradish. You have to wear rubber gloves when you grate the beetroot unless you want to end up with pink hands for days! Polish food has significance for us because of what my dad went through in the Second World War. When he was 11, he was deported to Siberia with his mum and sisters. His dad was taken by the Russians. The family had very little, and virtually starved for two years.
They arrived in London in 1947. Many Polish airmen had flown from RAF-Northolt to help in the Battle of Britain, so there was a community of Poles there. Dad got into university and made a life for himself.
So, eating Polish food has always been tinged with pride, but also melancholy. My granny died in 1976. I remember her clearly. Her hair went white in Siberia almost overnight, and she kept it waist-length. Babunia didn’t have a lot of English so we communicated through hugs, mime and laughter.
Part of me feels sad giving this away, because I think of it as our private recipe. It’s a delicious vegetable soup that comes from my grandmother’s stepmother, who lived in Portugal. I make it at least once a month, and it is so special to me. I’m sure there’s a Portuguese name for it, but I have written it in my recipe book as Mumsy’s vegetable soup – so twee!
My grandmother, Astrid Walford, was a painter and children’s book illustrator. I remember her making this soup throughout my childhood, when we descended on her house in the Lake District every summer. Sadly we no longer have that house, but we rent a house near Ullswater from friends – this will be our 13th summer up there.
As soon as I left home, my mum gave me this recipe. I feel better every time I make it – the aroma of the garlic, potato and carrot just does something to me. Adding mushroom ketchup is my little twist (Mum’s was bouquet garni). My daughters often help me to make the soup – they love chatting while we’re chopping. One day maybe they’ll add their own twists too.