Mary Berry: 'I freeze leftover wine so I can add it to gravy and cheer it up'

My earliest food memory... Going on picnics with my parents and grandparents. I was brought up in Bath, and we would often go foraging for blackberries or primroses. We would take a Primus [portable stove], a kettle and some egg-and-cress sandwiches, which I absolutely loved. It was a real adventure and we'd go whatever the weather: if you had vowed to go on a picnic, you would stick to it.

My store-cupboard essentials... I use my freezer as my store cupboard. I always have milk and bread in there, as I live in the countryside and don't always want to have to make a trip to the shops, as well as home-made soup, a big bag of home-made croutons and nuts – pine nuts, walnuts, pecans. They retain their flavour for five years if they're well-wrapped. And if I have leftover wine in a bottle, I'll reduce and freeze it, because it's great to add to gravy to cheer it up.

The kitchen gadget I can't live without... Since I make a lot of cakes, my KitchenAid mixer – there are other mixers which are just a good, but it is a lot quieter than most. I've got enough noise in my family without gadgets contributing to it.

My culinary tip...Use Stork [margarine] for cake-baking and don't think about trying one of the low-fat spreads instead. Most of my emails and letters are from people having problems as they're using what they think is margarine, but is in fact a low-fat spread which they think is healthier. But they tend to be full of water, so they're going to give you a very poor result.

My favourite food shop... I'm lucky to have a Waitrose near me in Beaconsfield: it has all the specialist things and they're very helpful. Once we opened our garden for the National Gardens Scheme and I made masses of scones. There was no way I could put them all in the freezer, so I nipped down there and asked, "Do you mind keeping a couple of big bags for me and I'll pick them up on Sunday morning?" and they said it was no problem. It's lovely. But also what is very important to me is supporting our village Londis: it's run by a charming couple, who work all hours.

My top table... Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons is a huge treat: Raymond Blanc makes you feel very special. Locally, we often go to the Old Queen's Head in Penn, High Wycombe: it's really good seasonal food and very welcoming – I have the bubble and squeak with egg, bacon and hollandaise. We spend a lot of time in Salcombe in Devon, and there's a place there called the South Sands Hotel. It's overlooking the sea, with windows down to the floor so you feel like you could jump in. It has a wonderful fish menu created by Mitch Tonks.

My dream dining companion... My husband, of course, but otherwise Monty Don. I'm a great gardener, and now he's returned to Gardener's World, I watch it avidly. He's so relaxed; and he always reminds me of all the jobs I ought to be doing over the weekend.

My guilty pleasure... Figs. We've got a fig tree in the garden, but nobody in our family likes them except me. Every time I pass it, I eat one. Often I'll get a fig, make a cross in the top of it, and fill it with brie or goat's cheese wrapped in Parma ham. Then I'll bake it for about eight minutes and serve it with bean salad. It's delicious.

My pet hates... I can't bear plated food – by that I mean, when you're in a restaurant and someone puts a plate in front of you with the meat, gravy and vegetables already served. It makes you feel like you're at school again: you should be allowed to help yourself.

Mary Berry is a judge on the BBC's'Great British Bake Off', which returns on Tuesday. 'The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake the Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets', with a foreword and practical tips by Mary Berry, is published by BBC Books, priced £20

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam