TV show has folk excited about baking
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Former Bake Off winner David Atherton is remarkably upbeat for someone who was unlucky enough to catch Covid-19 despite having had his first dose of the vaccine, writes Katie Wright.
“Because I’m a Covid vaccinator, I’d had the first dose,” says healthcare professional Atherton, who lives in London with his fiancé Nik. “Then my partner and I both got Covid. He got it worse, so I obviously had some protection.”
Describing the experience as “three weeks of not-particularly-pleasantness”, the 2019 Great British Bake Off Winner says the strangest thing was the way the virus dulled his sense of taste.
“At first it was kind of strangely interesting, and then it just became really frustrating. We got all the condiments out of the cupboard then my partner made me taste them all with my eyes closed. I couldn’t tell the difference between, say, vinegar and lemon juice, but I could definitely notice sour, sweet or salty.”
Illness aside, Atherton says his life has actually improved in some ways while working from home during the pandemic.
“Number one, it’s sleep. For me, the three pillars of health are good food, exercise and sleep. I’ve definitely benefited from being a little bit more relaxed with work, not having to wake up really early.”
The 38-year-old has also enjoyed “having loads more time to read and do crafts” and the arrival of a kitten called Rey, which he adopted from vet and fellow Bake Off contestant Rosie Brandreth-Poynter.
Known for being unflappable throughout his tenure in the famous white tent, Atherton thinks being crowned Bake Off winner a few months before coronavirus cases snowballed might help explain why he’s coped so well during this tumultuous time.
“My life had already got turned upside-down since Bake Off. And then Covid hit, so I’d already felt a very big – but positive – disruption to my life, which then just continued on, so maybe that helped.”
Now, the star baker is back with his second cookbook, Good To Eat, in which he combines his health and cooking expertise with recipes that are delicious and nutritious.
“I think it’s been brilliant how things like Bake Off have got people back into the kitchen and got people excited about baking, but it’s definitely moved more towards the mountains of butter cream and very rich things like croissants,” he says, which is why in this book, you’ll find recipes for things like coffee cake enriched with grated sweet potato, and ‘Mum’s Yorkshire Parkin’ made with a portion of cooked quinoa.
Good To Eat by David Atherton, photography by Ant Duncan, is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £25.