A leap of faith has landed this self-taught baker one success after another.
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Nadiya Hussain in the kitchen
Credit: Courtesy of Nadiya Hussain

An England native and mother of three, Nadiya Hussain never planned to bake outside of her home. But when her husband entered her in one of television's biggest food competitions, The Great British Bake Off, she decided (with some hesitation) to take the time for herself and appear on its sixth season. It paid off. To her surprise, she won. Since then, the world-famous baker has appeared on several TV series and published several books, including the recently released Nadiya Bakes.

Nadiya joins Homemade host Martie Duncan on this week's episode of Homemade, sharing her philosophy that baking requires nothing more than an oven, some dough, and your hands. Nadiya also dishes on facing her anxiety and building confidence as a baker. Plus, learn how she whips up her delectable barbeque Chicken Donuts, Blueberry Lavender Scone Pizza, Russian Honey Cake, and baked Teriyaki Chicken Noodles. Listen to this episode of Homemade on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPlayerFM, and everywhere podcasts are available beginning August 4.

Nadiya Bakes: Over 100 Must-Try Recipes for Breads, Cakes, Biscuits, Pies, and More: A Baking Book
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About Nadiya Hussain

Mother, baker, British TV personality, and author Nadiya Hussain began baking as a newlywed in her early 20s when her husband learned that she aspired to bake and bought her an oven. Thanks to his encouragement (and sweet tooth) she continued to bake at home before landing a slot on "The Great British Bake Off." Since her 2015 win, she's hosted Nadiya Bakes on Netflix and and several BBC series, such as Nadiya's British Food Adventure, The Chronicles of Nadiya, Nadiya's Family Favourites, and The Big Family Cooking Showdown. She's appeared as a guest on several other BBC shows, as well.

Her writing career includes contributions to BBC's Good Food and The Times Magazine. She's the author of several books, including Nadiya Bakes, Finding My Voice, Time to Eat, Nadiya's Family Favourites, Nadiya's British Food Adventure, Nadiya's Kitchen, The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters, My Monster and Me, Today I'm Strong, and her Nadiya's Bake Me a Story series. Her next book, Fast Flavours, will launch in 2021 alongside a TV series of the same name.

Episode Transcript

MARTIE: Welcome to Homemade, I'm Martie Duncan. This show is typically about the stories behind the food, and I so love a good story. My guest today has a story and, well let's just say, you could not make it up — it's nothing short of incredible. Nadiya Hussain was minding her own business baking cakes at home for her husband and her kids when he got the big idea she should audition for one of the world's most popular cooking shows: The Great British Bake Off. She totally disagreed with him, but finally gave in and was cast for season six of the show, and then went on to win the whole thing. Nadiya has her own cookbooks and shows now and she even made a birthday cake for Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday. 

Nadiya has a new book out, which takes her back to her baking roots, titled Nadiya Bakes: Over 100 Must-Try Recipes for Breads, Cakes, Biscuits, Pies, and More: A Baking Book. She's here today to talk about it, how she got started baking, her experience on The Great British Bake Off, her family, and, of course, what her crazy life is like these days. Joining me all the way from the UK is Britain's baking sweetheart Nadiya Hussain. Welcome to Homemade Nadiya!

NADIYA: Well thank you very much for having me. This is — I can feel it already. This is going to be fun. I can feel it. 

MARTIE: I hope so. Yeah, I hope so. I'm a giant fan. We have a similar start in television. I did a show in America called Food Network Star, and then you just decided you were going to do this really hard Great British Bake Off, which I think everybody in America loves that show. It's really popular here. People love it. We're obsessed with Mary Berry and Paul. I think it's a harder, much harder show than what I did. You weren't a professional baker, you just bake because your husband liked cakes — and then it was sort of your therapy for yourself. You suffered from some anxiety and it was sort of like a balm or a soothing thing for you to do, right, when you were in university? 

NADIYA: It was one of those things that I started baking when I was pregnant with my first son and just moved away from home. So it was one of those things that I realized kind of quite early on that my husband really likes cake. So I started baking for him very slowly. And what I found was in between naps and laundry and tidying up and cooking dinner, I found baking quite soothing. Eventually I realized that whenever I was anxious, I would bake and it became the thing that I would do if I was feeling anxious. And so I was quite anxious quite a lot of the time. And so I found myself baking and baking and baking. Without realizing it, I'd honed in on this skill that, you know, it wasn't something that I'd ever grown up with. My parents don't bake. They never use the oven. So it wasn't something that came naturally to me. Until I just started baking. And then my husband, I remember he would watch Bake Off with me. But he never watched Bake Off with me because he enjoyed it, he watched it because it was a thing that we did together. And he would sit there and say, 'oh, you can do that. Oh, you've done that better. Yours tastes better. Yours looks better.' And I paid no attention. I was too engrossed. I was too invested in my baker that I was rooting to win. So I didn't really listen to what he was saying. I think slowly, somewhere in between sort of season five, he was like, 'hey, I think you can do this.' And I totally didn't hear that he said that. And so he just, end of season five, he'd applied for me. So he'd done the application. And then he said, 'could you do all the kind of necessary bits?' And I said, absolutely no way are you making me go on the biggest baking show in the country, dare I say it, the entire world. It's the biggest baking show. I said...

MARTIE: A hundred percent.

NADIYA: Yeah, I said absolutely no way. And he just said, 'you have to do this for you because you've spent eight, nine years at home raising the children. You've not really got a career yourself. And it would be lovely if you did something for you.' 

MARTIE: I love him, I love him. That's amazing. He really just held your hand through the whole thing.

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: And then next thing you know, you'd done it. 

NADIYA: Yeah. I mean, I think he recognized that I'd invested quite a lot of time in my children and my family that actually whilst doing that, I almost lost what was important to me. And somewhere between doing all of that, I'd honed in this amazing skill of baking and being able to whip things up really quickly and know recipes through memory and so the only reason why I actually finished the application form was to — I was humoring him. It was nothing to do with wanting to do the show. And I remember I got into the final 12 and he said to me 'listen, it's great that you go in, but just don't get kicked out week one, because that would be really embarrassing.' I said, 'you can't say stuff like that!' I said...

MARTIE: No.

NADIYA: ...You can't say things like that because that is not fair. I cannot go on the biggest baking show and then have the pressure that if I get kicked out week one, everybody's gonna laugh at me. So he's like, no, no, no, no, no. So he kind of propped me up for 10 weeks. 

MARTIE: You had not even gone on a taxi or tube or any of that by yourself, ever. So your first day, you have to navigate all of those things, plus the pressure of doing this giant, like you said, beloved and probably the hardest cooking show. I don't know, I think is harder than Iron Chef, which here in America they say that's the hardest one.

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: But they know what the recipes are going to be. 

NADIYA: Right. Yes. 

MARTIE: You don't. 

NADIYA: No. 

MARTIE: And you've got to bake, which I guarantee you, none of those Iron Chefs are going to be baking. That's hard, anyway. You get there and there's Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. How does that feel? I mean, you're a mom. Uh, this time were you a mom of two or mom of three?

NADIYA: Mom of three. Seven, six, and four at the time.

MARTIE: Seven, six, and four. 

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: Oh my gosh.

NADIYA: Yeah, they were tiny and it was tough for me as a stay-at-home mom because I'd spent so much time with them and raising them. Doing something for me, I think that's something as parents, as moms we certainly suffer, is we have that guilt of not wanting to do anything for ourselves. It's always, how do I do things with my children or for my children. And I suffer that guilt myself. I feel guilty when I have a bath, I'm like, oh, I didn't spend that time with them. I'm like, this is ridiculous. I'm allowed to have a bath on my own. You know, I don't have to have kids walking in and out. So it's one of those things that you do like, it's that mom guilt.

MARTIE: My mom had it, too. I don't have children, but I do understand it. So let me just tell you, if you don't take care of you, you won't be able to take care of them. So. Because you have to. Because if you don't, then you can't do for others.

NADIYA: Yeah, I'm getting better at it. But I think doing Bake Off was for me, one of the most selfish things. And it was selfish in a good way for me because I got to do something that I really enjoyed doing. As somebody who suffers with anxiety, you kind of always question your ability to do things, to push yourself, to take risks, to be afraid. And actually, I did one of the scariest things I could ever do in my life and I came out the other end and here I am. And so, for me, it was one of the most liberating, most self-affirming things to have ever done, as a mom. 

MARTIE: When you walked on that set and you saw those people that you had been watching and admiring for a good long while, did you ever think, OK, I'm going to win this thing on the first day?

NADIYA: No way. No. Absolutely no way. Every week I would go home and every week my husband would — I'd say, I'm not going to win, I'm not going to do well. I didn't do well. I'd go through all the details of the weekend with him. And he'd say, oh, it's fine, it's OK. And he'd find ways of making me feel better. But he said, look, he made it through this week. Just concentrate on this week, one week at a time. And so baby steps. 

MARTIE: So you got to go home in between the challenges. 

NADIYA: Yes. 

MARTIE: And would you get to kind of work on what you thought for next week or try to improve before the next week? Or how did that work?

NADIYA: So we filmed on the weekend. So you go out there on Friday night and then you come home on the Sunday nights. You've got Monday morning to Friday afternoon to practice your bakes. So you know every week what challenge it's going to be. So you know if it's Chocolate Week or Pastry Week or whatever week it might be. And then you get to practice your signature and your showstopper. So you know what you're doing for your signature and showstopper.

MARTIE: That's so hard to me. You've got the signature thing you have to do. And the technical thing. And then you've got the showstopper thing, which whoever does that in a regular kitchen like some of these people, professionals, and I'm sure they've had the chance to do those big showstopper things. 

NADIYA: Yeah.

MARTIE: But I was just so impressed with you because you're a mom and a home cook and there you have whacking out these giant things that are, like, truly showstoppers. I mean, not like, let me make a nice chocolate cake. These things are like magnificent creations with many, many, many elements. And anything can go wrong. And you don't really get a lot of time. 

NADIYA: You don't get loads of time. But I think the joy of practicing at home is that you get to make those mistakes. And that's why I really enjoyed it, I would practice things up to ten, eleven times. I remember it being Chocolate Week and I had eleven chocolate peacocks on my dining table and my kids came down and they're like, there are 11 peacocks on the table. I'm like, yes, you can eat them. 

MARTIE: Eat all of them. 

NADIYA: They ate — honestly, for — I mean, my kids were wired before school every morning because they were just eating chocolate and cake for breakfast. And it was wonderful because they didn't know what I was doing. They had no idea what I was up to. It's a big secret to keep, so I didn't tell them what I was doing.

MARTIE: When you won, you're like — tried to give the trophy back and say, are you sure? Like, it's me. I won? I won this thing?

NADIYA: I genuinely gave the trophy back to Paul. And I said, 'are you sure you haven't made a mistake?' Now I work in telly, I realized that they were never going to film another two days of telly just to give somebody else the trophy. And he said, 'don't be silly.' He said, 'don't be silly, you've won.' And I said, 'are you sure?' And I was like, insanity honestly, why I was giving the trophy back. But that's how little I believed that I could do it.

MARTIE: OK, so fast forward you win this thing like you just did on a lark and then you've won. How did your life change? Has it just been a wild ride since then? Is this like just beyond what you could imagine? 

NADIYA: Well, I never went — I mean, if you, you know, go back six years, I never went on the show, in hope of a career. I didn't go on the show in the hope that I would have a career. I went on the show because I was anxious and I needed to do something for me. It was never in my mind — I never had an end goal. In my head, I'd convinced myself that I wasn't going to win, and I was kind of almost prepping myself to remind myself that I'm not good at achieving things. And I know it was just that kind of negativity. I was ready for all of that because that's what I was used to. And then to have gone on and won it, like life changed so dramatically, so quickly. There was a gap between winning and the show being announced that it was only six weeks. And it was definitely the quietest six weeks of my life because life has changed so much since then. It's a career I never intended to have, but it's one that I never regret. It's one that I absolutely love because...

MARTIE: You can tell.

NADIYA: Yeah, it's not it's not just cooking and baking for me. It's so much more. And so it's something that is not just my career. It's also a responsibility now.

MARTIE: Well, you're the nation's sweetheart. They look to you, now. I mean, that's really what I hear people say. That's if you read any interviews or anything that's said they're like she is Britain's sweetheart. We love her. So you've become like a rock to help other people, you know, feed their families, get dinner on the table quickly. Not just for your baking. But your new book — and you do have lots of other books, but your new book is all about baking. So you're back to your roots where you started. That must feel really wonderful to have a book, like, something you can hold in your hand that chronicles all of those experiences, cooking at home with your husband. So let's talk a little bit about that. When you would make those early cakes for him as you were just kind of getting started with your baking, what would that look like? What would that cake be?

NADIYA: Gosh, it was simple things like just a Victoria sponge or shortbread or cupcakes or cookies, very kind of simple things that my kids now bake themselves. Yeah, it's changed a lot since then because there's a lot of baking in our house and lots of ingredients. We have, like, a system in the fridge that if it has a Post-it Note on it, you can't eat it. Otherwise, they eat ingredients that they're not allowed to eat. So life has changed dramatically. The baking has changed dramatically. 

MARTIE: Right. A Victorian sponge is not something America is very familiar with, but it's something you hear a lot on the Bake Off

NADIYA: Yup.

MARTIE: Let's tell our listeners, this is a very traditional British thing. 

NADIYA: It's a double layered cake, which is buttery and soft. And, I mean, it varies in terms of filling. You can have buttercream and jam, or you can have fresh cream and jam. I love fresh cream, jam, fresh strawberries, and it's always dusted with some caster sugar on top. So it's a very simple cake. 

MARTIE: Caster sugar. 

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: That's another thing that's — we don't say caster sugar. Caster sugar is a regular granulated sugar, right? It's not the, it's not the powdery kind?

NADIYA: It's not the powdered — it's in between granulated and the powdered kind. It's finer.

MARTIE: OK.

NADIYA: So it's finer than a granulated, but coarser than the icing sugar. 

MARTIE: Oh OK.

NADIYA: Perfect for baking.

MARTIE: OK. And so what we say confectioners' sugar, powdered sugar — you call icing sugar.

NADIYA: Icing sugar, yes. 

MARTIE: Yeah. See I love all that. We speak the same language but we really don't. 

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: Also another thing is a traybake. What the heck is that?

NADIYA: I suppose a traybake, for you guys, is a sheet pan cake.

MARTIE: OK. 

NADIYA: A cake that you'd make in a sheet pan.

MARTIE: Oh, yeah.

NADIYA: So yeah, they're a go-to, especially in our house, and I think anyone who's learning how to bake traybakes are usually the go-to, the place where you start. So you can make a whole, the entirety of a cake in a brownie tin or a sheet pan or a traybake, and then you ice it. So that could be a brownie, that could be a lemon drizzle, but it's all in just slabs. So you cut them out into slabs. It's taking cake, but making it simpler and easier.

MARTIE: Easier and you don't have the layers to worry about and all of that business. 

NADIYA: Yeah.

MARTIE: All right. So what's your number one traybake for your family? Like tonight, the kids want a dessert. You're going to make a traybake. What would you make? 

NADIYA: OK, so if I was going to make a traybake like, and this is kind of all day, my kids tend to go for a peanut butter and jam — a pancake traybake. So it's a pancake made in a tray, but it's got the peanut butter and the jelly already in there. So for me, a traybake is all about kind of cooking something in a roasting dish or a tray that can be eaten either with a spoon or sliced into chunks. And there's a great recipe in the book that my kids absolutely, absolutely love. And it's the one with the croissant. So it's the croissants and you put melted ice cream on top and you bake it, like a cheat's bread and butter pudding

MARTIE: I saw that. That looked — and I wasn't — I wasn't sure what it meant, cheat's. Like I wasn't sure. So it's like a quickie like — yeah. 

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: To take some help. You don't make the whole thing.

NADIYA: Yeah and what I love about writing books in general and certainly about this book was that when all — baking doesn't come naturally to everyone and...

MARTIE: Right.

NADIYA: ...Whilst it comes naturally to me, now, it didn't at one point and it took a couple of really good books and a couple of really good recipes to give me confidence in myself. And I think if you're not a confident baker, and you want to bake and you want to bake more, it's about finding the recipes that give you confidence. And it's simple recipes like the cheat's recipes that give us a little bit of confidence that we can make something delicious in the kitchen and then move on to things that once our confidence grows, we can... 

MARTIE: Right. 

NADIYA: ...Move on to layers and frosting.

MARTIE: Yeah. Don't tackle the sponge for thirty people on your first day. 

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: Do the traybake or the cheat's thing... 

NADIYA: Yeah.

MARTIE: ...And get some confidence and then move to the next thing. I think that's great advice. 

NADIYA: And then you'll be doing layers and tiers and decorations and all of that jazz. But you know, before that, you know, like I think it's really important to find confidence. And that's what I loved about writing this book was that there are recipes for the more accomplished baker and there are recipes for the novice baker.

MARTIE: I did notice that, that you had something for every level from beginner to experienced baker.

NADIYA: Yeah, always. 

MARTIE: Which I think is important, because that way the book really works for everybody. And multiple people in the household, like the kids, can even use it. So it's called Nadiya Bakes: Over 100 Must-Try Recipes for Breads, Cakes, Biscuits, Pies, and More: A Baking Book. And so we're just tickled you're making your big jump into America now. We're going to see you in our kitchens and on our television, hopefully. But this book has got some ambitious things like it's got this Chocolate Caramel Flan...

NADIYA: Yes.

MARTIE: ...Which I can't wait to try to make that. But one thing I really loved was the Blueberry and Lavender Scone Pizza. I grow blueberries, I grow lavender, I cannot wait to try this. So you've taken your scone dough, you've pushed it out into a round and then topped it. Tell me about that one. Was that something that came to be with the kids or how did you come up with that?

NADIYA: I don't need kids to have fun. That's all I'm saying. Like, I do not need the kids to have fun. For me, it's just the way my mind works. When there's something that I really love, that I really enjoy, it's like, how can I make that a little bit easier? You know, also you've got to remember, I have the equipment at home. Not everyone has a particular cutter of a particular size. And instantly when you look at that recipe and you think, 'oh, you know what, I don't have that cutter.' That recipe becomes null and void and everyone says, 'OK, well, I'm not going to do that recipe.' So for me, it's about stripping it back and saying, actually, you don't need any equipment, you just need the dough, you need your hands, and you need an oven. And if you want to get into baking, that's all you need. And so it was about saying, actually, you don't need the cutter, let's just make a whole entire pizza scone and then we cut into wedges and you top it with cream and blueberries and lavender and lemon zest. And I kid you not, it is one of the nicest desserts. It literally is one of the nicest desserts.

MARTIE: It looked like it and I can't wait to try it. And it seems like it's just one of those rustic, homey things that you just whip up on a weeknight. Like we want a little something sweet. Let's just make this.

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: It just looks that easy.

NADIYA: It is that easy. 

MARTIE: You're listening to Homemade. Stay tuned as I talk to Nadiya about her recipes for Russian honey cake and barbeque chicken doughnuts — yup, that's right, chicken doughnuts. I'll be right back after the break.

Welcome back to Homemade, I'm Martie Duncan. Let's return to my conversation with television presenter, cookbook author, and Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain. 

You do have some things in there that are a little bit more complicated, but I think for the most part, people will find that the recipes are quite doable. 

NADIYA: Yeah. I mean, I think even the slightly more complicated recipes, and there aren't that many in the book, even for those recipes, it is about building your confidence. And I think it's a perfect book for if you aren't a confident baker, you can just start off with the little things and really build your confidence. And then, eventually, you'll be baking the difficult recipes. You'll be writing your own recipes before you know it. And that's what it's all about.

MARTIE: Well, I think that the one thing that we all should strive to do is to make these things, whatever they are, that our families love, our friends love, you know, the people in our lives love. And that can become part of the fabric of what you do. Like when I would come home from travels or wherever it was, I know my mom was going to have a lemon meringue pie waiting for me. This is just a thing that she would do. I think that's important, don't you, like to make these things that become a part of our memories and part of our lives. So 10 years down the road, somebody's going to say, I remember my mom made this great blueberry lavender scone pizza... 

NADIYA: Yes, yes.

MARTIE: ...And we broke it all up and we ate it sitting around the table talking about X, Y, Z thing. So we're coming out of the pandemic in America now. I think, Britain, y'all are still struggling with it a bit. How has it been for you and your family during the lockdown? Did you get to spend a lot more time at home? And did you find that you were baking again like you used to sort of as that stress reliever?

NADIYA: Yeah, I mean, even though, you know, I bake for work, I still very much kind of tidy up the kitchen after a hectic day of baking and do a banana bread. And that's the thing that's in our house. We always have a date pecan banana bread with cinnamon and, and almonds. During the pandemic, I was at home quite a lot. So just like everybody else, you know, I ran out of flour and eggs and sugar. And so I was kind of making do with what I had at home. And so, like everybody else, we were all kind of struggling the same, but in different ways. And there was a comfort knowing that we were safe at home together. I baked a lot less because eventually I ran out of ingredients and everybody — we had a lot of, um, panic buying. We never run out of eggs because we have chickens. So we had...

MARTIE: Oh, great.

NADIYA: ...Yeah, so we had — in the end, we had so many eggs that we started to give them out to our neighbors.

MARTIE: Give them to the neighbors. Yeah. 

NADIYA: Yeah, because we had like sort of six to eight eggs a day. And actually, in some ways, I kind of valued the lesson that that taught my kids, because actually we live in a world where it's instant gratification. We can get whatever we want whenever we want it, whether it's a click of a computer, a swipe of the phone, or whatever it might be, you know, we can get whatever we want. And it was important for the kids to see that actually we're now living in a time where it's not as simple as that. And so they had to really think before they boiled the egg or before they poached the egg, or before they decided to make some cookies. Those are — actually we need to save those or we need to give those to the neighbors. So that was quite an important lesson, I think.

MARTIE: That's lovely. Here in America we had a lot of people who did what you did in your early days. They bake for comfort. 

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: They stressed baked, and many of them were making breads. And you couldn't find yeast. There was no yeast. 

NADIYA: Yes, yeah.

MARTIE: You couldn't — so then everybody started making these quick breads without the yeast because that was really — it was the therapy, I think, for the whole country, really. And in your book, you have a lot of bread recipes. Even on the Bake Off, you have to do breads, don't you?

NADIYA: Yeah, you have a Bread Week. So you do have to do bread. And I — it's one of those things I find bread making very therapeutic because you have to have a lot of patience when you're baking bread. Unless it's flat bread or chapati, there's a lot of waiting around. And you have to have patience for baking bread. And we had lots of time on our hands in lockdown. So it was something that I've always really enjoyed doing. And I feel very kind of relaxed when I'm baking bread because it is a lot of kind of waiting around and I like that kind of, like, puttering around the house and knowing that my dough is proving and I quite enjoy that. And yeah, there's this amazing recipe in there for chicken doughnuts

MARTIE: Chicken doughnuts?

NADIYA: Yeah. Chicken doughnuts.

MARTIE: You mean like the doughnut with the hole in it? 

NADIYA: Actual doughnut. No, it's a whole doughnut stuffed with barbequed chicken that's then deep fried and then covered in a garlic savory dust. It is absolutely, dare I say it myself, just mind blowing.

MARTIE: Yeah, my mind's blown.

NADIYA: Yeah.

MARTIE: That sounds so good. Tell me again. It's a barbeque chicken. 

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: You stuff inside some pastry or bread dough? 

NADIYA: A bread dough. So you take a bread dough and you stuff it with cooked chicken that's covered in a tangy barbeque sauce. Then you roll it all up and then you cover up. Then you deep fry it. You can bake it, too, if you wanted to. But you can deep fry it and then you cover it in a garlic herby savory dust. I kid you not, it is one of the nicest things I've ever put in my mouth.

MARTIE: That does sound absolutely phenomenal. And that's in the book.

NADIYA: Yes. That's in the book.

MARTIE: And it's called a chicken doughnut. 

NADIYA: It's called a chicken doughnut. That's it. 

MARTIE: I'm making that.

NADIYA: You're not gonna regret it.

MARTIE: As soon as I get this book, I am making that. All right. Again, the book is called Nadiya Bakes. It's over 100 must-try recipes. We've already talked about quite a lot of them. What do you think is your number one favorite recipe in the book? 

NADIYA: Oh I've got lots — like I said, chicken doughnuts. I've mentioned the ones I really love, you know, the croissant, the kind of cheat's croissant bread and butter pudding. I do this delicious kind of this pull-apart pizza pepperoni bread with cheese, it's delicious again. Gorgeous honey — like a Russian honey cake. So there are loads in there. They're all my — they're like trying to pick my children and I can't pick one... 

MARTIE: Okay. So tell me about a Russian honey cake. That sounds great. 

NADIYA: It's biscuit layers, uh, layers of sweet honey biscuit. It's called a cake because it's got layers. But actually, it's layers of biscuit and that are sandwiched between layers of vanilla cream that are left to kind of just soak and then you cover it and it looks like a cake and then you kind of slice it into wedges and it's got lots of thin layers. Absolutely gorgeous. But I think, one thing that lots of people — because it's a baking book, what I was concerned about was that people would think that it's just got cakes in it. And that's not what this book is about. It's not just about sweet bakes. There's also a savory chapter. And one of the recipes I absolutely love is my chicken teriyaki noodles, which are baked in the oven. So I think lots of people naturally think that with noodles you have to always boil them or soak them. Actually, you can bake noodles, as well. So this is an all in one noodles, teriyaki, gorgeous chicken. It is an absolutely phenomenal recipe. Love it. 

MARTIE: And I wasn't expecting that. So you bake the noodles in the oven. 

NADIYA: Yeah.

MARTIE: With the liquid? 

NADIYA: Yeah, with the teriyaki seasoning, with the liquid, uh, with the chicken, and then you kind of... 

MARTIE: Just throw it in the — just bonk it in the oven? 

NADIYA: Yeah, just throw it in the oven. Throw in the oven, cover it up, leave it, go make a cup of tea, have a shower, come back, and it's ready. Garnish it with all the beautiful stuff and then it's ready to eat.

MARTIE: So that's something you've become known for. Not just the baking, but these quick fixes. These techniques that help people expedite life, I think I would say.

NADIYA: Yeah. 

MARTIE: With three kids, I imagine that something you've had to become an expert at, especially with a busy career. 

NADIYA: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I mean, I still — you know, I don't have a cleaner. My kids clean the house on a Sunday and some may call it torture. I call it education.

MARTIE: A hundred percent. 

NADIYA: Yes. 

MARTIE: A hundred percent. We had to do it. It's good. 

NADIYA: They clean the house on a Sunday. It's important. It's a life lesson. And so, you know, we still have to function as a family. So yeah, it's tough trying to manage children, home life, cooking, eating well, balance, all of that. But, you know, I hadn't realized till a long time — because it had become natural to me because I'd been doing it for over a decade. It became natural to me and realized as I kind of came into this career that, into this job that, actually, that's not natural for everybody. And it seemed important to kind of share the way I cook and it had to be true to me. It had to be honest. And, and for me, it's about cutting corners, about cheating, about making life easy, about trying to do as few dishes as is physically possible. All of these things are important to me when I'm in the kitchen and when I'm feeding my family. But that does not mean I have to compromise on taste or on flavor.

MARTIE: Flavor, yeah. I think the nice thing that I remember you saying on the show was I could teach you one dish, but that's really not helping you. I want to teach you things you can translate into many different things. 

NADIYA: Yes. 

MARTIE: I can teach you techniques more so than just a recipe. 

NADIYA: For me, it was about taking one thing and turning it into two things. And, you know, I did a butternut squash tarte, but I also did a soup at the same time. So it's about saying, OK, well, you've got this for dinner, but you've got that for lunch. So it's about using your time. And I'm, and I'm always really aware of that when I write my cookbooks that as much as we all love being in the kitchen, it's also about saying 'where can I crawl back a bit of that time so I can spend it doing things I love.' That aren't cooking, you know, spending time on my own, doing things I enjoy, spending time with the children. So it's a little bit of all of those things. 

MARTIE: So tell me you are a Christmas baby, right?

NADIYA: Yes, yeah.

MARTIE: So we are a show that we love to talk about family traditions and things that you do when you get the family together. So what are some of those traditions like and what would be like a dish that would be like a signature dish that you would make for Christmas or your birthday?

NADIYA: So we don't celebrate Christmas. But it is the only time of year where the entire family stops, nobody's working.

MARTIE: Right. 

NADIYA: So that is an excuse for us to spend some time together, especially on Christmas Day, because actually nobody's got an excuse — when I say, can you come around for my birthday, nobody can say, well actually I'm busy because they're not. They don't celebrate Christmas, my family don't celebrate Christmas. They've got no way to be so where could you possibly be if you're not at my house?

MARTIE: Right. 

NADIYA: No. There's no hiding from me on Christmas Day. Oh, no. So I've got a sister whose birthday is on Christmas Eve, so I've never had a birthday on my own. So we always have a joint birthday on my birthday. 

MARTIE: Wow.

NADIYA: We tend to have our entire family over and everybody cooks a little bit of something. So it's, it's a very kind of multicultural affair. So, you know, my sister who's married to a Punjabi man, she would make a biryani. So she would make...

MARTIE: Oh, I love biryani.

NADIYA: ...Yeah, like a biryani or a haleem. So she'll make different things. And my mom will always make a chicken korma, which is very traditional when you're celebrating. I always make the cake, always. Um, I always make my spicy prawns, which might — and it's like, this is the least Christmas-Christmas dinner that you could get.

MARTIE: Sounds wonderful, though. It sounds absolutely wonderful. And you have all those dishes that are everybody's specialty. 

NADIYA: Yeah. And then my sister-in-law whose English, she always makes a cauliflower cheese and she always comes in disappointed, as if she's like, 'oh, this is so bland.' And I'm like, no, no, no, it works. It really works. And so we have like cauliflower cheese, we have spicy prawns, we have a little bit of everything. And I always make the cake. So I, to this day, still make birthday cake for me and my sister. 

MARTIE: Oh, how wonderful. I love that. That is wonderful. Now what is your birthday cake? What do you make? Which kind? 

NADIYA: Well, my sister — so I never make something I like because I make a lot of cakes. So I tend to not eat as much cake. But my sister loves toffee. So every year I make her a kind of speculoos type toffee, speculoos spiced cake with a toffee icing.

MARTIE: OK, Nadiya you're going to have to tell me what speculoos is. 

NADIYA: So speculoos is a spice mix. I think it's from the Netherlands. I can't remember anymore. I've forgotten completely but it's like you get — it's like cinnamon, nutmeg, you've got...

MARTIE: Maybe clove?

NADIYA: ...Cloves. You've got a little bit of clove in there. You've got all sorts of kind of like...

MARTIE: So the warm spices. 

NADIYA: Kind of warm Christmassy spices that you would normally get.

MARTIE: Oh, lovely.

NADIYA: Have you ever heard of a lotus biscuit?

MARTIE: No.

NADIYA: Right. So it's a very kind of — there's these lotus biscuits that my dad used to have at his restaurant, and they would serve them on the side of his coffee.

MARTIE: Cookie. Biscuit is a cookie?

NADIYA: Yes.

MARTIE: We say, cookie. And y'all say biscuit.

NADIYA: Yes. Exactly. 

MARTIE: And a biscuit for us is something very, very different. 

NADIYA: A biscuit for you is savory, right?

MARTIE: Yes. Well, it can be sweet, but we frown at that. Yeah biscuits for us are flour, butter, buttermilk. 

NADIYA: Yup. 

MARTIE: And they're usually rolled or punched out and baked.

NADIYA: Yeah.

MARTIE: Yeah, but biscuits for y'all are... 

NADIYA: Cookies.

MARTIE: OK so, so speculoos is the warm spices. So you make that with a bit of — did you say toffee?

NADIYA: Yes. So I make like a toffee flavored icing, Swiss meringue buttercream for her and then we do loads of layers. The kind of cake that you eat big slabs of and make it as high as physically possible, and that's her favorite cake to eat. 

MARTIE: It sounds wonderful. Now, Americans don't do a lot of Swiss buttercreams, that Swiss meringue buttercream. But basically what it is, is you take the hot sugar and add it to your — like a traditional buttercream and it makes it fluffier and lighter, right? 

NADIYA: Yeah. So it's a liquid sugar. So your water and sugar boiled to a 152, I think it is. And then add it to whipped egg whites and then you kind of gently pour that in and as soon as — you have to wait a long time to whip that till it's cooled down to kind of body temperature. And then you add all the butter, like when I say all the butter, I mean all the butter that you can physically imagine. Like, we're talking a few kilos, especially if I'm making a cake, but a lot of butter. It is the most velvety, smooth, sweet icing. And it's just it, it's the way it moves, the way it moves to ice the cake is just — it's beautiful. It's like a dance.

MARTIE: I am fascinated with that. And in America, unless you're really an experienced baker, you don't see people doing that a lot. But in Britain, in the UK, that's pretty standard, isn't it? Like most people would. You would either have that or get that somewhere for a birthday or something, right?

NADIYA: I don't know if Swiss meringue buttercream is that standard.

MARTIE: OK. 

NADIYA: Yeah, I don't think it's that standard, but we have lots of kind of like, uh, cream cheese icing, which I know is quite common in America.

MARTIE: Which, we do. Yeah, we do. 

NADIYA: And a buttercream. I think a standard kind of buttercream icing is quite...

MARTIE: But the Swiss meringue buttercream is a lot more stable, right? It holds better than a regular buttercream, right?

NADIYA: Yes. So it cools faster. So when it cools, it cools quite hard. So it means that if you're doing a quite tall cake with a bit of structure, that's the kind of buttercream you want to use, because with a standard buttercream, you still kind of stick your finger in and create a massive dent. Whereas with a Swiss meringue buttercream, you leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours. It's pretty sturdy. 

MARTIE: And it just all sounds so delicious. I can't wait to try that. All right. So I want to ask you, as we're kind of wrapping up here, what are you looking forward to? Are you planning anything here in America? Are you coming over anytime soon? What are you looking forward to? I want to invite you to the South. I think you would love it.

NADIYA: It's a date. Let's do it. 

MARTIE: Didn't you have an American adventure one time?

NADIYA: I did. I went to Louisiana, which was... 

MARTIE: Wonderful. I think it's one of our biggest culinary — I mean one of the best culinary experiences you can have is to go to, to Louisiana. Yeah.

NADIYA: Yeah, I think in an ideal world, one day, I will go but it will be minus the camera crew and all, you know, just with my family.

MARTIE: Come! Don't bring the cameras, bring your kids and husband and come. Yeah, we'll show you everything. 

NADIYA: It was amazing to be able to kind of go down to the South and have a crawfish seafood boil, an actual... 

MARTIE: Yeah. 

NADIYA: Never have I tasted anything so wonderful in all of my life. And it was just...

MARTIE: And it's so easy. 

NADIYA: Oh, my goodness. So — yes, you know, like, I — it's amazing that my books are now slowly coming out in America, which I'm so proud of. But, you know, like I — because of the pandemic, I haven't been able to get out there and meet people and do signings and do shows, and things like that. So the hope is that once everything kind of comes goes back to normal.

MARTIE: Normalizes, yeah. 

NADIYA: Yeah, I would love to be out there and meet people and be able to kind of see a little bit more of America. 

MARTIE: Thanks so much to Nadiya for joining me today, isn't she just lovely? Her new book is available now, titled Nadiya Bakes: Over 100 Must-Try Recipes for Breads, Cakes, Biscuits, Pies, and More: A Baking Book. You can also follow her online at NadiyaHussain.com

Next week it's all about the pinnacle of culinary competitions for home cooks here in the USA, MasterChef. My guests are judge and restaurant mogel Joe Bastianich and MasterChef Season 10 winner Dorian Hunter.

DORIAN HUNTER: I was not taught using formulas. I wasn't taught to read a cookbook and that type of thing. You just really went off of tradition and just your instincts. And it really works, you know, when you're growing up, you don't understand why you're being taught a certain way. But when I look back at it now, had I not had those skills, then I don't know if being on a show like MasterChef would have been as successful as it was. So it really paid off in the end. 

MARTIE: You don't wanna miss it so be sure to follow Homemade on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. And please, I'd love your feedback. If you could rate this podcast and leave a review, I'd really appreciate it. 

And don't forget, you can find thousands of recipes, meal ideas, and cooking how-to's from the world's largest community of cooks at Allrecipes.com. 

This podcast was recorded in Birmingham, edited in Atlanta, and produced by AllRecipes with Digital Content Director Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team: Rachael King, Matt Sav, Danielle Roth, Jim Hanke, Maya Kroth, and Erica Wong.

I'm Martie Duncan and this is Homemade.