Nadiya Hussain's New Netflix Show Celebrates the Joy of Baking
“The idea that we can spend time creating, baking, flavoring, and decorating with an edible result that we can share is pretty special.”
Nadiya Hussain is back in the kitchen and celebrating the very thing that kicked off her culinary career: baking. Since winning the sixth season of The Great British Bake-Off in 2015, Hussain has authored cookbooks, hosted television series’, written a children’s book, and continues to celebrate her affinity for flavors. Her vivacious personality and grin is back in Nadiya Bakes.
Nadiya’s cooking philosophy, which is a connecting thread in all of the episodes of her first Netflix series—Nadiya’s Time to Eat—is steeped in efficiency. She strives to minimize her time spent in the kitchen to maximize time with her family. Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, time has slowed down. Cooking in the kitchen, something that was once a terror for many, is now a place of solitude and reprieve. First time bakers have tried their hand at banana breads and sour dough loaves—including us.
We caught up with Nadiya to discuss how she’s staying grounded at home, quarantine hobbies, and her go-to meal in lockdown.
Thrillist: Nadiya’s Time to Eat was about efficiency, maximizing our time by taking shortcuts when it comes to cooking. How is Nadiya Bakes different?
Nadiya Hussain: There are great recipes in both, but they vary in terms of difficulty and skill level. Nadiya Bakes is my first baking book, which makes it extra special, but still in keeping with the way I like to spend time in the kitchen: saving time where I can [by] using shortcuts but mostly enjoying every single thing I bake.
Baking is so special, especially after the time we have had over the year. [It] can be all about luxuriating and enjoyment but can also be quick and frugal—but baking is one of the few things that bring us ultimate joy! The idea that we can spend time creating, baking, flavoring, and decorating with an edible result that we can share is pretty special.
Do you prefer baking or cooking?
It's hard to pick. Baking and cooking give me two pleasures that are entirely different. I love being in the kitchen, no matter what I am making. Cooking for my family is one of my greatest pleasures, even though I do it every single day. [For] baking, the measuring, the intricacies, the aroma in the kitchen, the patience of waiting for it to cool, decorating, and sharing—that's what I love about baking. I couldn't possibly pick a favorite.
Since quarantine began, have you found yourself spending more time in the kitchen tackling more challenging bakes?
During the pandemic we have had to establish some boundaries, but it seems to work really well. I am really hopeful that a book like Time to Eat has helped people to really utilize the kitchen as a space for being creative but also a space where you can be frugal and save time [while] still cooking delicious food.
What have you been doing in quarantine to feel grounded?
We have been doing lots of walking to get some fresh air. I have learnt to knit and knitted a few scarves. I'm trying my hand at embroidery. Doing these simple tasks, that I haven't been able to do before the pandemic, makes me feel more like myself in many ways. It has allowed me to be creative outside of baking. But being at home so much and having to do much more housework than usual, cleaning toilets, and dusting is one way to feel grounded—feet firmly on the ground!
Do you have a go-to recipe that has been prominent and handy for you during this time?
Leftover soup has been great. I try not to throw anything away and with scraps I make a great big hearty soup for everyone at the end of the week. It has taken a long time for me to convince my children that soup is yummy, but stick a cheese toastie by the side of the bowl and you will be surprised how much they will enjoy any soup! It's made out of peelings that would otherwise be composted or thrown away. So carrot, potato, parsnip, broccoli stem, cauliflower leaves [are] all cooked up into a thick soup.
What do you hope people take away from Nadiya Bakes?
I hope people are inspired by the bakes, whether they are a novice in the kitchen or uber confident. I hope they enjoy the show and feel compelled to get into the kitchen. I hope it creates a spark in them and allows them to bake, create, and hopefully share the joy of baking.
What are your aspirations for the future once the pandemic is under control?
I really miss travelling. I feel so excited about the series and book having travelled overseas. I would love to travel with them and meet people who are watching the series and baking from the book. I can only hope and pray we get out of this and look back at this life experience, a shared experience worldwide, and learn from it in a big way. Every experience after this will feel special for a long time. For now I'm hopeful that I can hold my family and take a cake along with me.