A TRIP around the world inspired a charity worker to put on her apron and get baking – and she’s scooped a leading culinary writing prize along the way.
Lauren Prince, 29, didn’t even own a rolling pin a year ago and now her recipes from across the globe have hundreds of online fans.
Her blog Around the World in 80 Bakes charts the converted baker’s weekly adventures from her Jesmond kitchen, where she rustles up a dish from a different country every week.
She said: “I went around the world to lots of places including Fiji, Australia and Canada, and when I was away I thought I love travelling and I love food and I should combine the two. I had to teach myself a lot though and just experimented every night.
“Now I’ve reduced my baking to about one big bake marathon a week – which I think my boyfriend is probably pleased about. It was non-stop cakes for a long time.”
Her weekly online posts soon won her a dedicated following and after a friend nominated her for the Blog North Awards she was crowned food and drink writer of the year from 400 entrants at a ceremony in Manchester.
“I think my family thought I’d gone a bit mad when I first started baking but they enjoy eating everything – I don’t eat it all myself,” said Lauren, who is the daughter of Maureen and Jim Prince from Washington and works for an older people’s charity in Newcastle.
The former St Robert of Newminster pupil’s latest recipes include a Swedish Tea Ring, a boozy Jamaican Black Rum cake and Moroccan Basboosa Cake made from semolina.
Readers can click on the blog’s interactive map and see baking ideas from each country, as well as pictures at every stage of the recipe.
Her website also snaps of Lauren on her travels and she has been creative with the ingredients, replacing things that can be hard to buy in the UK. She said: “I was over the moon when I found out I’d won. To be short-listed from 400 people then to actually win was amazing. I couldn’t have imagined this when I started the blog that this would happen. It was just a new hobby I started in the evenings and I’ve even been invited to join the Clandestine Cake Club, a baking club that meets in secret.
“For the site I ask friends for recipes who live in other countries from their families as well as doing a lot of research myself online. I ate a lot of amazing food when I was travelling so I always have inspiration.
“I’m always looking for a challenge though – the hardest thing I’ve made is Turkish baklava from scratch. It actually took me an entire day to make.”
Her next baking test will be making her own wedding cake for her marriage to fiance Chris Hoy, 33, a freelance journalist, on December 30.
She is making a seven-tier fruit cake with each layer a different flavour for the ceremony at Jesmond House.
“Of everything I’ve made I’m quite keen for that one to work out and I’ll be re-doing it until it’s right,” she said. To visit her blog go to www.aroundtheworldin80bakes.com