Q&A: Frances Quinn

  • 1 September 2015

We're looking for the Ultimate Edible Masterpiece of 2015. Not sure what to make? Take some advice from Great British Bake Off winner.

When did you first start baking and why?

I've been baking for as long as I can remember! The kitchen was always a space where I felt comfortable. It was like an extension of the living room; a place to play, explore and eat. Also, being the youngest of five, I had ample opportunity to bake away in batches, knowing there were always plenty of people to eat what I created.

How do you come up with your ideas?

I find it difficult when people ask me to choose between baking or design – for me they are the same thing. Ideas can come into my head either in a constant flow or at random times throughout the day and night.

I find starting with a theme, key ingredient or word helps trigger an initial idea. I always try and keep a sketchbook handy to scribble down my sketches and ideas so that I can refer to them when I'm baking. Like the great designer Paul Smith, I fully believe and embrace the saying that there is inspiration in everything. I have a habit of turning things I see into food and get my ideas both in and out of the kitchen.

Which artists do you find inspiring?

I love artists like Henri Matisse, Patrick Heron, Mark Rothko and Joan Miró for their incredible use of colour and the textures they create via brushstrokes and collage effects. I also find Picasso's line drawings and the patterns within Gustav Klimt's work inspirational – both for their expressiveness and detail. I equally love illustrators like Quentin Blake and Lauren Child and graphic designers like Marion Deuchars and Angus Hyland.

What do you think artists and bakers have in common?

Creativity. I think everyone should be encouraged to explore their creative side – whether that be with fabric, paper or pastry. The great thing about Edible Masterpieces is that the art can be eaten! From a paint palette to your taste palate, art and food are both about experimenting, expressing and feeding yourself and others.

What’s your favourite ingredient to work with? And worst?

It depends on what I'm creating. I've recently been drying my own fruits to create edible confetti and also grinding them into coloured powders to decorate and add flavour to my bakes. Fruit compotes and coulis enable me to use ingredients like paint and pigments, and I love the idea of using chocolate ganache as chocolate gouache!

Worst: not so much the ingredient, [but] what can go wrong with it – for example cream and chocolate splitting, and caramel burning.

Have you had any baking disasters?

Plenty, but I tend to eat my mistakes and learn from them! Sometimes mishaps can lead me to think up new ideas and sweet serendipity.

Of everything you’ve baked, what’s been your all-time favourite?

Probably the secret squirrel cake I made on The Great British Bake Off or the Barbara Hepworth millionaire shortbread I created to celebrate The Hepworth Wakefield's one millionth visitor.

What advice would you give to people about to embark on creating their own edible masterpiece?

Think outside the baking box, bowl and kitchen, and be inspired by both the ingredients and ideas going into your design.

Feeling inspired? Enter our competition to find the Ultimate Edible Masterpiece of 2015 before 11pm on October 2015 to be in with the chance of winning a KitchenAid, baking day at Kondiotr & Cook and more.

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