In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the professional baker and mum wants everyone to know the signs to watch out for
Next week sees Breast Cancer Ireland roll out its first ever Great Pink Bake Off which will help Ireland’s leading breast cancer charity to raise some ‘serious dough’ for complimentary education and awareness programmes all across the country. Fronted by well-known baking pro and TV chef, Louise Lennox, every cent raised through the Bake Off will go straight into driving awareness of the eight signs and symptoms of this disease.
We spoke to Louise about her involvement in the campaign, baking with her family and the one thing she thinks everyone should know how to make:
Why did you want to get involved in the Great Pink Bake Off?
“I got involved with the GPBO because I think Breast Cancer Ireland is a very important charity. Breast cancer is terrifying because there are so many people affected by it – 1 in 9 women develop breast cancer in their lifetime. I’ve had friends that have had breast cancer and some have had young babies when they discovered that they had it and it’s absolutely devastating. I really feel passionate about what this campaign is all about i.e. driving awareness for breast cancer and educating about the eight signs and symptoms to look out for. I actually didn’t know what all eight signs were, and it’s hugely important when there’s a very real chance of developing the disease at some stage in our lives.
“I was donating my breast milk during Covid (I’ve got a three-year-old daughter). One week, I was chatting to some of the ladies in the ‘human milk bank’ as they call it, and it transpired that some of the ‘left over’ or surplus milk not needed by hospitals, gets donated to mothers who might have been unable to breastfeed post breast cancer treatment or surgery – and this really struck me, as it’s not something I had thought about before. When I was asked to come on board with this campaign – obviously I jumped at the chance. Obviously baking is in my DNA – and I love all things pink (!) – so bringing these elements together, I just knew that this was something I could bring my own personality and a fun element to as well.”
What do you want people to take away from the experience?
“I think we’ve let real-life face to face interactions slide post Covid, and I want to put that right in October. I’m going to meet my friends in person again, bring some cakes and have some coffee mornings and chats! Food has always brought us together. Baking is something that a lot of people resonate with and when it’s something that is home-made, its like that extra little bit of love and thought has gone into it. I know people really appreciate home-baked cakes. It’s a great way to raise some funds for this incredible charity, and reconnect with friends and maybe some family that people haven’t seen in a while – and the joy of being able to share something that you’ve made is even better!”
What is the one thing you think everyone should know how to make?
“I think everybody should know how to make scones, and the reason being – they’re so easy! They’re super fast to bake and there’s nothing more enticing than when you walk into someone’s home, and you can get that freshly baked scone smell. You don’t need a lot of baking experience to make them and the flavour is something that you just don’t get from a shop bought scone. Homemade scones with jam and either cream or clotted cream, are the best!
“If you’re not a sweet person, you can also make brown scones. I love these with avocado and smoked salmon, or with feta cheese, chives and semi-sundried tomatoes. Scones are so versatile – start with the basics and then just add in whatever ingredients you fancy. You can make them start to finish within thirty minutes…perfect for short notice visitors to the house!”
What is your favourite dessert to make with your children?
“We love homemade ice cream! The machine is a little bit big – but it’s so good for making ice-cream that you can’t get in the shops. I’ve also moved into the world of fussy eating after my own son became a very bad eater, at one point ending up in hospital because of it. I had to re-learn how to feed my family and one way that I brought him back into eating was by baking with him. For example, we used to make beetroot brownies – but I don’t hide the fact that there’s beetroot going into these. It helps to break down the senses, getting him used to seeing, smelling and touching beetroot, and then he realises that he likes it and eats it – result!”
What do you think is the most overrated cake or dessert?
“Tough question – I think it depends who has made it! I did go to a place in New York a few years ago – I think it was called Serendipity3, and they had a big ad campaign around what they called their ‘Frozen Hot Chocolate’. I love science and I recall thinking that sounds incredible. I was thinking along the lines of Heston Blumenthal – there might be some liquid nitrogen ice cream in there for example – I was genuinely mystified. So I stood in the queue for an hour and a half and was so let down! It was essentially chocolate milk with crushed ice-cubes in it – completely overrated, and not at all what I was expecting. Afterwards, I created my own version and it was a million times nicer!”
Click here for three gorgeous recipes to start practicing for your Great Pink Bake Off.
To get involved in the Great Pink Bake Off, supported by Dr Oetker, aspiring bakers can simply download the Great Pink Bake-Off Kit from breastcancerireland.com, which includes cake toppers, Bake-Off posters, and a simple to follow eight recipe booklet. Invite friends or family members to do the same and then set a date for your very own Bake-Off to raise a few euro for this excellent cause.