Five Minutes With Prue Leith

Great British Bake Off judge, Prue Leith shares her earliest memories of baking and the hardest lesson she’s learned in her career

What is your daily routine?

A lot of my days are very pressured, but I love that because I enjoy a bit of stress. One second I’m cooking lunch, and the next I’m eating cake on Bake Off, or writing a book. It’s all good fun.

What tips would you give to a woman who wants to have the confidence to wear bright colours?

Well, my advice would be to just give it a crack! Colour has a direct effect on your mood and it makes you feel good, so you’ll get the courage to do it again. That’s why I’m so keen on glasses and necklaces being bold and beautiful, because that’s what people see. Fancy handbags and shoes cost a fortune but spend all of their time in a cupboard or under the table, so they hardly get looked at. I must have about 10 pairs of glasses in different colours instead of boring, rimless specs that go with everything.

The collection with Ronit Fűrst celebrates essence and individuality, what does that mean to you?

It’s really fun to be back in business. I first started this idea because so many people were asking me where I got my specs from and so I thought, why not? Ronit and I worked on them together, she designs them, but I had a great deal of say in the colour choices. The specs are flying out of the shops, so I think it’s going to be a great success!

In a world of sugar-free, ’good’ and ’bad’ foods, why do you think that the Great British Bake Off is so successful?

It’s the sort of programme that feels like a cup of tea or putting on a pair of slippers when you’re exhausted, it’s just really comforting. We all live very busy and stressful lives, so it provides that moment of togetherness for the whole family. Cooking and baking should be a pleasure; all this business of getting neurotic about diets is an awful pity. I want people to enjoy food and the best thing, in my opinion, is to have a bit of everything and get a good balance.

What are your earliest memories of cooking and baking?

I had a really happy childhood, but cooking wasn’t part of it because we had a Zulu cook. My first attempt at cooking anything was jam tarts, which our cook helped me with, and then I did domestic science at school, where I made a Christmas cake that took the entire term. When I finally brought it home, I realised I had forgotten to add glycerine to the icing and it set like concrete! My father split the handle of the knife trying to cut through it, so it wasn’t a great success.

What is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn within your career?

I’m still not very good at saying ‘no’, even at 79. This means I’m always very busy, but I try to make time for things that I know are good for my wellbeing, such as gardening. There’s nothing like eating peas straight off the vine or corn on the cob. It tastes so delicious and I think getting your hands in the soil is really good for you.

Health & Wellbeing