Welcome back to our National Baking Week celebrations! Today, we serve up the second of our three-part interview feature where we meet some of the internet's most dedicated baking and cookery bloggers.
Here, we put our questions to Dominic Franks of Belleau Kitchen
. Dominic is an all-round food blogger based in Belleau, Lincolnshire, and while his recipes are mostly a fantastic success, like the rest of us he isn't immune to the odd mishap... What inspired you to start cooking? Did you have any training or experience prior to starting your blog?
I'm from a big family where cooking was at the centre of family life, so really it was always in me to cook - but my biggest inspiration is my mum. She was always cooking up great meals and taught us how to cook, and made it fun. I've had no training other than this, I just love what I do and that inspires me to cook. In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about baking? Have you encountered any unexpected challenges?
Baking is a science and as such you have to follow the rules. If you follow the rules you should be OK, but there are so many variables such as sugar type, flour, raising agents and then oven temperature... I'm always baking cakes that I've made many times before that come out burnt or undercooked! How do you decide what you are going to create and write about? Do you have a trick to help you pick?
To be honest I'm quite free-form about the whole thing and tend to follow what's in season and what's available locally. This inspires me to cook, but of course, like anyone I also get cravings for certain things that I simply have to make! Where do your recipes come from? Are they handed down from family and friends, or are they your own inventions?
A lot of recipes are my mum's, or versions of them, but many are thrown together by me or found online and then adapted to what I have. What do you think is the most important tip for successful baking?
Follow the rules when baking cakes and prepare as much as possible beforehand. Who is your biggest inspiration? How have they helped you in becoming who you are in the kitchen?
My mum and Delia. I'm quite a basic cook and Delia's no-nonsense style is really easy to follow and adapt. What is your proudest achievement in baking?
Every day is a new discovery! All my recipes are like my children: it's hard to choose just one! Which recipe of yours is the most popular? How important is feedback from your readers?
I love it when people respond to my work, it's why I do it - although it makes me nervous when people say they're going to make my recipes...! The fact that my large chocolate cake still gets loads of hits every day makes me really proud. What do you think are the most important skills to have as a baker? Any advice to aspiring bakers?
Time is so important for baking. Put aside a little hour at the weekend to bake a cake. Really read the ingredients and method first, and make sure you have all the correct stuff; one little change could result in a big mistake.