At the start of the year, I decided I wanted my blog to be more than just recipes. I have begun to add more ‘chatty’ posts like my How To: Series giving lots of hints and tips on how to make your bakes perfect and my Coming Soon post so you know what to expect in the coming months, and now I would like to introduce my new monthly interview series.
This month I interviewed Ray Williams an amateur baker from Derbyshire. You can find Ray on twitter or at #dayoffbaker and #retiredbaker.
Can you tell me more about yourself?
I am 67yrs old; I worked for the RAC for 30yrs as a road patrol in different departments. I retired in March last year. In 1978 I had an industrial injury where I lost my lower right leg, this didn’t stop me, I went on to compete in amputee sports and represented my country in an international event against Australia in 1981. After a few years when I wasn’t quite so fit I took up golf, in 2000 I won the British Open Amputee Golf Championship. That felt good.
I got my dream job with the RAC, being a trained mechanic from leaving school, as I said earlier I retired after 30yrs. Just after retiring thinking I could chill out I was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer, also some traces in the skeleton. Needless to say, this was shattering, after hormone therapy and chemotherapy I have been told that no further treatment is required.
Turn the clock back a bit, my wife and I designed our dream kitchen/diner extension but could not afford it, we then decided to take the plunge and have it done, lots of sums and calculations later we had it built, this was the room we all needed, I could really start the hobby I enjoyed, BAKING, when the kitchen was finished GBBO was on and one of the eventual finalists inspired me, and that took me to new heights.
What are you most proud of?
Apart from my children obviously, and my golf trophies, I got to third stage interview for GBBO in 2018, also two rosettes from a local spring fayre against some WI bakers.
When did you start baking and why?
It really started with the new kitchen, also watching Bake Off, if they can do that I can attitude, also it is so satisfying to produce something from nothing and to have it liked by friends, family and neighbours, I get requests from one neighbour for a cake for her to take to her Cancer group.
What is the biggest baking disaster you have ever had?
I have had a fruit loaf that was like a house brick, yeast problem, I had a Bundt cake stick in the tin, also Paul Hollywood’s Beetroot Tart, looked fabulous tasted bland.
What are your top 3 tips for anyone wanting to give baking a try?
- Don’t be too ambitious at first, simple is best.
- Read the recipe every time, get it right then play with the recipe if you want to.
- Don’t be scared of some recipes and mostly enjoy baking, bread recommended.
You said you have been diagnosed with cancer has baking helped you deal with your diagnosis?
After the initial diagnosis, I didn’t bake, didn’t do anything really, as my health improved I longed to get back in the kitchen, it was such a relief to bake my favourite bake after being basically immobile for what seemed like an eternity.
Is there anything you would want to make but haven’t?
I have over 70 cook/baking books to go at if the mood takes me to go exotic I will, nothing I can pick out as a preference.
What is the bake you are most proud of?
I made an opera cake for Christmas two years ago, hard work and a phaff. A chocolate cake from Nancy Birtwhistle, that was nice, but custard tart is also good.
Who inspires you to bake and why?
The main inspiration from that GBBO was Luis Troyano, he was just great, we all went to his afternoon tea event he used to have lovely to meet him and call him a friend, I have also been to the shop he opened and bought his cakes, top man, hope his health improves too.
Do you have a signature bake?
I have more than one…..Chocolate Fudge Brownies are the tops but these come close seconds coffee and walnut cake, ginger biscuits, Bakewell cupcakes (from Luis) and cheese and onion loaf.
What are your future plans with baking?
Just carry on and enjoy, if my strength returns I may have another go at GBBO, but I just love it, been making lots of bread too.
Where can we find you on social media?
I am on Twitter at #dayoffbaker, #retiredbaker and @ldvray.
Do you sell any of your cakes/bakes?
No, I never have, I supply cakes as asked for, things like nursing home birthdays, charity events and my cancer ward got four trays of cakes from me at the end of my chemotherapy.
Each month I will be interviewing a bakers/cake decorator or baking blogger, If you would like to be considered for next month’s interview please get in contact with me either on social media, email or by the contact page on this site.
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Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.