Great British Bake Off winner, Peter Sawkins, launches a new cookbook for kids
There will soon be a new generation of mini Peters, just waiting to take the Great British Bake Off by storm, whenever they’re old enough to use kitchen gadgets unsupervised.
That’s not because GBBO 2020 winner, Peter Sawkins, has a bun in the oven. Instead, as the Channel 4 baking show airs its 13th series, he’s launching his second cookbook, Peter’s Baking Party: Fun & Tasty Recipes for Future Baking Stars. This time, it’s aimed at kids.
“I now know the work that goes into a book,” says Sawkins, who released Peter Bakes last year. “But I was super excited and jumped at the opportunity”.
All of the recipes were tested out on his very willing family, flatmates and his pals at Edinburgh University, where he’s in his final year of an Accounting and Finance degree. Among other things, the colourful children’s book ended up featuring recipes for monkey bread, chocolate crinkle cookies, blondies, carrot patch cake and his favourite STP (sticky toffee pudding) muffins, as well as a sausage roll wreath and toad in the hole. He had to have salty as well as sweet additions.
“In terms of what I eat day to day, I'm definitely more of a savoury person,” says Sawkins. “But the thing that really gets me excited is sweet baking because there is that slight cheekiness and naughtiness. It's always a treat. You're not just making a cake to have at lunchtime, you're creating it for some kind of occasion. And that keeps it really special”.
There’s lots of easy instructions, to break down the techniques of icing, or proving bread, and a page on “What to do if it all goes wrong?”, for small people who might be devastated if their bakes don’t turn out.
On this page, Sawkins, 22, who was the youngest GBBO winner ever, reveals he’s already got 15 years of baking experience under his belt.
That’s thanks in part to his mum, Morag, and his Auntie Rachel, who both get a mention.
Of course, he and his brother, Andrew, didn’t start out with anything like the three-tier creations he made on GBBO.
“In Edinburgh, Friday would mean a half day at school, which would leave us with lots of time that we’d have to fill with something. So obviously we’d go off and play tennis - we play lots of sports - but baking was a frequent occurrence. We started with flapjacks and shortbread, some simple stuff like that,” he says. “And we also used to quite often make the packet cupcakes with characters on them - the Tom & Jerry ones come to mind. Some people are horrified that we’d make those, but it got us into the kitchen and excited”.
It was also GBBO itself that inspired Sawkins to bake. After all, he was only 10 years old when the first series aired in 2012. It’s strange to think that two years have already passed since he took home the trophy.
“It feels like a really long time and a short time. I look back and I go, oh wow. I’ve had two books out. My Instagram feed is a bit of a photo library of things I've done”, says Sawkins. “It's been a big learning experience, because you're not prepared for what's going to happen. I genuinely did enter because I wanted to be on the show that inspired me, have that challenge and see how well I could do. To be a part of it was an unbelievable privilege. Now I'm trying to build up a bit of a portfolio”.
As Sawkins has a lot on his plate, it has been a juggling act.
“The year that I wrote the first book, I had a brand new type of life to deal with and it was pretty stressful. It was just very busy. The second lockdown gave me a bit of buffer time to do all this work,” he says. “Since then, I requested to split my fourth year and the university was happy to allow that. It means I'm in the second half of fourth year, although it's my fifth year. I can find a better balance with academic life and the business baking life I've got going on now. I tend to engage more on the volunteering side of university as well. So this year, I’m our badminton team’s first team captain”.
Sawkins is still building and refreshing his baking skills. Among other things, he has recently been part of a pop-up with Edinburgh restaurant, Pomelo, and has created brownies for Social Bite. Just a couple of weeks ago, he spent some time with baker Darcie Maher at Edinburgh restaurant, The Palmerston, where she showed him how she makes her pastries.
“I love learning from people who are doing it for a living because they have such incredible knowledge,” he says.
However, unlike Flora Shedden, who was a finalist in 2015’s Great British Bake Off, also wrote a couple of cookbooks and now owns Aran artisan bakery in her hometown of Dunkeld, Sawkins doesn’t have any plans to open his own Edinburgh business. Not selling cakes, anyway.
“I do have this life goal of opening an ice cream shop,” he says. “It’s been my dream for a while”.
Peter’s Baking Party is out October 12, Black & White Publishing, £20
He’ll be signing copies at Augustine United Church, Edinburgh, on October 14 from 6.30pm-7.30pm, tickets from £4, www.eventbrite.co.uk
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