Meet the queen of mug cakes, Suzy Pelta

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Meet the queen of mug cakes, Suzy Pelta

Alex Galbinski chats to Suzy Pelta about her debut cookbook and how baking has transformed her life

Alex Galbinski is a Jewish News journalist

Great British Bake Off star Mel Giedroyc might describe her as “bossier than Mary Berry”, but in reality she and Suzy Pelta look like they are having a whale of a time in the kitchen as they laugh and bake together in a campaign video for Marie Curie. 

Pelta, 37, who has just released her debut cookbook, Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes, is no stranger to being filmed.

Indeed, she found her culinary calling in life five years ago, after winning a competition on the ITV morning show Lorraine to find “Britain’s best cake”.

Her chocolate and banana creation with peanut butter frosting was deemed “heaven” live on air by Joanna Lumley and Pelta was duly crowned “Cake Club Queen”, bagging £20,000 towards a new kitchen in the process.

Pelta explains: “I was a stay-at-home mum with three children – including twin girls who were about to start full-time nursery – and I was really at a loss as to what I would do with my life.

“I randomly saw this competition advertised for the Lorraine Kelly show to find Britain’s best cake. I don’t really know what possessed me to enter, but I did. I had a cake I thought was a bit different – it was something I’d played around with in the kitchen.”

After she was selected as a finalist, Pelta was filmed baking the cake with her children and then appeared live on the show before winning the public vote.

“I’m really proud of the cake. Not many people can say a cake changed their life, but it did. It’s a recipe I created at home and tested
on family and friends, and it opened me up to a world I didn’t imagine I’d ever be a part of.”

The former singing teacher is similarly thrilled about her cookbook. “I’ve wanted to write a recipe book ever since I won the Lorraine show,” she admits. The book is split into two sections – mug cakes and cheat’s bakes – with the blurb cheekily describing the baking as ‘trashy’.

Suzy Pelta's book
Suzy Pelta’s book! Reader offer: Buy the book for £7.99, including postage and packaging, by telephoning Macmillan Direct on 01256 302 699 and quoting KB3.

Pelta, who has launched her own range of “Bake with Suzy” baking kits, explains: “I love the baking world and I’ve been so fortunate to have been part of it for so long, but I feel in some ways it’s become a little bit too hard and unattainable for the average person.

Reader offer: Buy the book for £7.99, including postage and packaging, by telephoning Macmillan Direct on 01256 302 699 and quoting KB3.

“This book is absolutely true to my style of baking. People shouldn’t feel like they can’t bake – they just need some really good, simple recipes and ones that are a bit different as well. That’s why I’ve gone for the cheat’s element.”

Revealing that she is a fan of ideas from the other side of the Atlantic, Pelta adds: “I love the fact Americans are quite ‘trashy’ with their baking – they put sugar and butter in, their flavours are a bit different.

“I feel that sometimes we take our baking a little too seriously and there’s nothing wrong with making it a bit trashy, not as refined, or using flavours that aren’t as sophisticated or taking shortcuts.”

The mum-of-three was bitten by the baking bug after having children. For her oldest child’s first birthday – he is now 11 – she decided to bake everything.

“I fell in love with it,” she recalls. “I was baking all the time, trying new recipes and, quite early on, I got creative. I had the confidence I could make something different.”

White chocolate lemon mug cake
White chocolate lemon mug cake  Photo by Adrian Lawrence/ Ryland Peters & Small

For the past five years, Pelta has volunteered with Marie Curie, serving as the charity’s official Blooming Great Tea Party Queen, and her winning creation has been selected  as this year’s campaign cake.

She has also collaborated with a range of brands, including Waitrose TV on its Learn to Bake series and has done cookery demonstrations for the BBC Good Food Show and The Cake and Bake Show.

Her Maltesers cookies were also one of the official recipes for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day campaign.

Nutella Mug Cake Photo by Adrian Lawrence/ Ryland Peters & Small
Nutella Mug Cake
Photo by Adrian Lawrence/ Ryland Peters & Small

A natural in front of the camera, Pelta has appeared several times on shopping channel QVC talking about her baking kits.

As a young child, she would often imagine herself as a television presenter and she clearly isn’t fazed when things go wrong.

“Appliances haven’t worked or the ‘here’s one I made earlier’ hasn’t been there, but you just have to carry on. I love live demos, because the audience feedback is brilliant. It’s like being on stage, which I really enjoy,” she enthuses, adding that she appreciates receiving messages from people after they have tried out her recipes.

The Edgware resident’s signature bakes are brownies, but she also loves cooking, with her favourite meal being Friday night dinner.

“It’s the one time we can all sit down together and eat. As the children have got older, it’s become more special as they can stay up and not be too revolting the next day,” she laughs.

“They love eating all the traditional Friday night food, such as chicken soup and chicken. These are probably the first things I learned to cook – my mum helped me to become a good Jewish wife.”

She is also inspired by her family. “I have a big folder of recipes from my grandma and my husband’s grandmas, and I love the way they cooked and how their recipes aren’t precise in any way. This love of food has come through the generations in our family.”

Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes by Suzy Pelta is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is out now, priced £9.99. 

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