“I don’t want to retire at all. I have a passion for what I do and I love teaching,” says the former Great British Bake Off judge, 88, who began her TV cooking career in the early 1970s.

“I mean, I’ve got wonderful health… I’m really lucky. I love what I do.”

Here she shares recipes from her latest book, Mary Makes it Easy.

Somerset cheddar cheese straws


(Makes 50)

250g (9oz) cold butter, cubed

55g (2oz) semolina

400g (14oz) plain flour

1 tsp mustard powder

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

150g (5oz) mature Somerset Cheddar, coarsely grated

150g (5oz) Parmesan, coarsely grated, plus about 4tbsp finely grated, to garnish

1 egg, beaten

A little milk


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.

2. Measure the butter, semolina, flour, mustard powder, cayenne pepper and a little salt into a food processor. Whizz until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

3. Add the Cheddar, Parmesan and egg and whizz again for a short time, just until the dough comes together.

4. Remove the dough from the processor, divide into two equal pieces, and shape each one with your hands on a floured work surface into a rectangle. Roll each piece of dough to a rectangle about 46 x 16cm (18 × 6½in) and about 8mm (⅓in) thick.

5. Brush the milk over the top of the dough and sprinkle with the finely grated Parmesan. Slice each rectangle into roughly 25 strips.

6. Carefully lift each straw on to the prepared baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool on the baking sheet until the straws have hardened and are easy to handle.

7. Serve cold.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

Easy peasy one-pot chicken


2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, deseeded and diced

3 large garlic cloves, finely grated

100ml (3½fl oz) white wine

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 small whole chicken

(about 1.25kg/2lb 12oz)

5 bay leaves

1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp runny honey


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6.

2. Heat the oil in a deep lidded casserole or large, lidded, ovenproof frying pan over a high heat. Add the onion, fennel and pepper and fry for about 3–4 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the wine and boil to reduce by half.

3. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and black pepper.

4. Meanwhile, put the chicken upside down on a board. Remove the backbone by cutting either side of the bone with scissors. Turn over and press down on the breastbone to flatten the bird; it is now a spatchcock chicken. Arrange the lemon slices and bay leaves over the chicken.

5. Put the chicken, breast-side up, on top of the vegetables in the casserole or frying pan. Season and bring up to the boil. Cover with a lid and transfer to the preheated oven for about 35 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and sprinkle the paprika over the chicken and drizzle with the honey. Return to the oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to brown and finish cooking.

7. To serve, spoon the vegetables on to a hot platter and joint or carve the chicken before arranging the chicken on top of the vegetables.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

Red velvet sandwich cake


Butter, for greasing

250g (9oz) plain flour

1 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

250g (9oz) light muscovado sugar

200ml (⅓ pint) buttermilk

150ml (¼ pint) sunflower oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp red food colouring gel or about ¼ tsp food colouring paste

2 large eggs

8 white chocolate truffle balls, to decorate

For the buttercream icing:

250g (9oz) butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla extract

300g (10½oz) icing sugar

250g (9oz) full-fat mascarpone cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line the bases of 2×20cm (8in) sponge sandwich tins with non-stick baking paper.

2. Measure the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a bowl and mix well.

3. Mix the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, food colouring and 100ml (3½fl oz) water in a jug. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. The mixture should be bright red; it will get a little darker as it cooks. If it’s not as vivid as you’d like, add a touch more colouring.

4. Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared tins and level the surfaces. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25–30 minutes, or until well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tins. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out, peel off the paper and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

5. To make the buttercream icing, place the soft butter and vanilla extract in a large bowl and sift in half the icing sugar. Mix with an electric whisk until smooth. Sift in the remaining icing sugar and mix again. Add the mascarpone to the bowl and gently stir with a spatula until smooth (don’t beat with a whisk as it may split). Put a fluted nozzle in a piping bag and spoon about 150g (5oz) of the buttercream into the bag.

6. To assemble the cake, sit one of the sponges on a cake plate and spread a third of the buttercream over the cake, then sit the other cake on top. Ice the cake by first spreading a thin layer of icing – a crumb coat – over the whole cake before chilling for 30 minutes. Then pile the remaining icing from the bowl on top and spread over the top and around the edges to completely cover the cake. Make sure that the icing is smooth around the edges before starting to create lines up the sides. Using a small palette knife, make wide lines up the sides and swirl the top. Pipe a rope design around the edge of the top of the cake and decorate with the eight chocolate truffles to finish.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

Mary Makes it Easy is published by BBC Books.