Mary berry

Mary Berry on Christmas traditions, soup lunches and cooking

'I've never had a takeaway in my life!'

Mary Berry on Christmas traditions, soup lunches and cooking

There’s no soggy bottom on Mary Berry’s Christmas cake and she’s a whizz with turkey leftovers. 

You won’t believe this, but I have never had a takeaway

Cake-maker extraordinaire, Mary Berry (CBE), 81, lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband Paul. We caught up with Mary who spoke about her commitment to cooking, strict soup lunches and Christmas traditions. 

Are you always in charge of Christmas dinner? 

I usually do the turkey. Last year I was at my daughter’s on Christmas day so I cooked the turkey at home beforehand. It takes an hour to drive to hers, so I cooked it to absolute perfection and it did its resting in the boot of the car! I covered it with foil and a towel and a few anoraks, and the gravy was in a thermos. Turkey holds it heat, so it didn’t need to go in the oven again.

What do you do with leftovers? 

Well, my favourite leftover is just plain cold turkey with all the bits of trimmings. I often do Danish open sandwiches with different toppings. Nobody does that now but a Smorgesbord is a lovely thing.

Any other ideas for all that turkey?

I do different things like add the meat to a risotto or a hot fricassee. I think it’s a good idea to take all the meat off the bird once it’s cold on Christmas Day. Then you can make stock from the carcass, and the meat takes up a lot less room in the fridge if you have it in pieces.

Of course, some people have other birds, and we’ve had goose, which is absolutely delicious, but the sadness is there are no leftovers.

What are your memories of Christmas dinner as a child? 

When we used to have it at my parents’ house in Bath and everyone was there – in laws, out laws! We used to have the matron from the Royal United Hospitals Bath come round for Christmas dinner. She was a delightful lady with no family, so once she’d seen all the patients on her ward, she would come to us.

When do you make your Christmas cake? 

Usually at the beginning of December. You can make it later, but it’s not mature, so when you cut into it, it crumbles. I make a lighter Christmas cake, as I’m not frightfully keen on a heavily fruited one.

Where do you get inspiration for your recipes?

I get it from friends, listening, going out. Sometimes I just sit down and think, ‘What can I do that’s a bit different, a little quicker and easier?’, and always try to use local ingredients – what’s in season at the time.

What’s your favourite Christmas tipple? 

It’s the same all-year round – white wine. I don’t change.

Do you ever get sick of cooking and order a takeaway?

You won’t believe this, but I have never had a takeaway. I promise you! I can’t think why I would have one. Also, you have to drive to collect it and we don’t live in a town. They deliver? Oh. If I did have one, it would be Chinese.

Want to try one of Mary's recipes? Find everything you need online or pop into your local store.