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Interview: Nadiya Hussain

Popular 2016 The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain chats to Shine about her childhood, family baking, and making THAT cake for the Queen.

What is your earliest food memory?

When my dad came home with a whole sheep butchered and said, let's see how much steak you guys can eat.

Growing up, were you a confident child?

Yes, I’d say I was confident. I’ve always known my own mind and chased my dreams. It’s important for children to do that and to be able to talk to the grown-ups around them about their ambitions.

Where did your love of baking come from?

I didn’t understand the concept of baking until I did Home Economics at school. My mum used to put her pans in the oven as storage so I didn’t realise what the oven was for! When my teacher put a chocolate cake in the oven I realised she didn’t have pans in there. Honestly, it was like sorcery to me – that magic has stayed with me. 

What tips would you give to parents to get their children involved in the kitchen?

My biggest encouragement is don’t be worried about the mess! It can be cleared up! It’s trying things out in the kitchen and having fun. 

Your book contains fairytale stories with a fun twist. What inspired the Gingerbread Guy?

I’ve put star anise in my gingerbread for years and I wanted to use the recipe in the book. I tested this one on my daughter because she’s a little more wary of flavour. At the end of the story the fox doesn’t eat the gingerbread guy, he runs away, because he doesn’t like the flavour of the star anise. Reading her the story made her want to try it! I thought that could work for somebody with a child who's a bit fussy like my daughter.

What did the Queen think of your birthday cake?

Baking the Queen’s 90th birthday cake was amazing. I was so anxious about the whole experience. When I told my daughter I was making a cake for the Queen, she said, ‘But you’ve made loads of cakes for Mary Berry!’ As far as we’re concerned, Mary is Queen in our house. It was an absolute honour to bake for the Queen and to be a part of history. I think she liked it!



175g golden caster sugar
6 tbsp clear runny honey
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground star anise
(You will need a spice grinder for the star anise, or you can swap it for the same quantity of ground nutmeg)
200g unsalted butter
450g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting 
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
Writing icing tubes, for decoration


  • Place the caster sugar, honey, orange juice, vanilla extract, ginger and star anise in a pan over a medium heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir until it has melted, then set aside and leave to cool.
  • Once cool, add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and bring the dough together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap it and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 0.5cm. Cut out shapes with a gingerbread-man cutter – a 7.5cm cutter will make around 30 biscuits. 
  • ​Gather off-cuts and re-roll the dough as necessary.
  • Place the gingerbread men on the lined baking sheets and transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/gas mark 6.
  • Transfer the sheets from the freezer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges and paler in the centre.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the sheets  for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. 
  • Have fun decorating your gingerbread men with icing!

Get the family together in the kitchen with Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story. Out now in hardback from Hodder Children’s Books. 

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