Since her childhood days when she made bread and butter pudding alongside her grandmother, Stacey Hart has developed a passion – an “addiction” even by her own admission – to donning an apron, dusting down her rolling pin and creating the perfect bake.
Now the 42-year-old former teacher from Radlett has been chosen as one of 12 contestants taking part in the new series of Great British Bake Off, which broadcasts on Channel 4 for the first time, from next Tuesday.
The mum-of-three, who is married to James, a former ASOS director, said friends had been urging Stacey to show off her talents and apply for the iconic show.
“I also really fancied a challenge and wanted to do something for myself, having given up my teaching career to become a mum 10 years ago,” she adds.
Stacey has fond memories of baking with her grandma, Phyllis, but it was while she was at university that she began taking her hobby more seriously.
The former Henrietta Barnett student reveals: “Someone close to me was going through a very tough time and I used to bake cakes and biscuits for her.
“I realised that baking can put a smile on peoples’ faces and so I did it more and more. I suppose my inspiration for baking is to make people happy.”
While she loves to bake when her three sons are safely tucked up in bed, she admits being “rather addicted to baking – and so I bake when they are around too!”
Needless to say, she tells me they are often more than willing to try out her latest creations and have a personal preference for Stacey’s mouth-watering cookies and cream biscuits with a marshmallow fluff centre, as well as her home-made lollipops.
As for her “signature dish”, Stacey loves making chocolate brownies, as well as honey cakes – in fact, she reveals the biggest baking challenge she has set herself to date involved making an incredible 32 of the Rosh Hashanah favourite in just two days.
But like any other talented baker, Stacey – who is a “self-confessed perfectionist” – has also had a fair share of culinary disasters.
“I once made a great looking cake, which I managed to drop as it came out of the oven,” laughs Stacey. “It turned upside down on the kitchen floor!”
Watch the GBBO trailer here:
While she loves to infuse her heritage into everything she makes, her favourite Jewish food is in fact more savoury than sweet.
“Ooh, now that is a hard question, as there is so much to choose from! But I would probably have to say my favourite is a good old salt beef sandwich with mustard and pickles.”
Unsurprisingly, challah also plays an important part in Stacey’s repertoire, and she makes it fresh for the family every Friday.
She’s even willing to divulge her simple secret to making the perfect challah.
“I use a sourdough starter, which I have made and look after in my kitchen,” she tells me. “It makes all the difference to the taste.”
GBBO starts next Tuesday, August 29, 8pm, on Channel 4.