In celebration of the Great British Bake Off final on BBC One this evening, we meet two leading musicians who are more than handy with a whisk, butter, sugar, flour and an oven set to Gas Mark 4…
Hilary Hahn Violinist
'I’ve always enjoyed baking and I’ve been known to bake cookies for orchestras I’m working with. When I was younger and I was at the Curtis Institute, my mom would bake cookies for the holidays and would say "do you want to take some to school with you?" So I did and everyone loved them. I kept trying and trying to make my own, though, but it didn’t work for me… but finally, one day it all just clicked and from then on, I was the resident Curtis cookie baker! Just before school went on break, I’d bake buckets of cookies and they’d be gone in two days. I’d leave one holiday display bucket on the reception desk and as the day went on the receptionist would just refill it and refill it. The thing about it is that as long as you have a kitchen, you can do it. On the road, I can’t really bake that much, but sometimes I get lucky and wind up in a hotel with a kitchen. I also enjoyed painting for quite a bit, but I could never take it on tour with me. So drawing and cooking or baking are the two creative things I do the most.'
Alexandra Dariescu Pianist
'When I was growing up in Romania, before Christmas and Easter we used to bake a lot of cakes and I would help my mum. The most difficult one to make was cozonac, which is like a panettone with raisins, nuts, cocoa and rum. We used to stay up baking and chattering, so I always associate baking with happy memories. I myself began baking about three or four years ago. I started with cup cakes, making lots of them, and then moved onto muffins. It’s all very simple. I put everything in a bowl, I put it in the oven, I go and practise the piano for an hour, and the cake is baked. Perfect! Baking brings people together, like music does – I have this thing about communication and sharing – and I tend to have friends round for afternoon tea rather than dinner, as I find it easier. Probably my most exciting afternoon tea consisted of chocolate éclairs (choux pastry is not the easiest to make), banana and chocolate cake, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, some bread, and strawberries with cream and vanilla. That was my proudest moment!'