Get Cakey for Little Troopers was launched a few weeks ago. We’re over the moon that Beca Lyne-Pirkis from the fourth series of the Great British Bake Off has joined the Get Cakey team. Beca has first-hand experience of Military life as her husband serves with the Royal Army Medical Corps and she has shared some of her military and baking experience in this fantastic Q&A.
- You’re best known for being a semi-finalist in the fourth series of the Great British Bake Off and have gone on to have your own cooking show (Parti Bwyd Beca) and cookbook (Beca My Food), but some people might not realise that you are also part of a military family. Can you tell us more about your connection to the Armed Forces?
I am a very proud Military Wife! My husband is in the RAMC (Royal Army Military Corps) and is currently away on tour and returning in October. We’ve been together 12 years and have two cheeky daughters. We currently live in a civvie house in Cardiff, but have done the rounds in army houses in and around Aldershot and Camberley. I’m also in the Military Wives Choir in Cardiff and sung with the Aldershot choir for 4 years when we lived there.
- You’ve got two of your own Little Troopers. Can you tell us why you think our charity is a great cause for a fundraising event?
The support that such a fantastic and specialist charity like Little Troopers can give military families is invaluable, as they understand all the ups and downs that happen when you’re in the military community. Children of all ages struggle with the daily issues of growing up, throw in all the fun and games that come from being in a military family and it just throws additional challenges and emotions for them to deal with. Little Troopers work is invaluable and what better way to help fundraise than by getting cakey!
- From your own experience, do you have any advice when it comes to supporting military children through new postings, house moves, school moves or when a serving parent has to go away on operations or exercise?
My advice is try to get a normal routine that you and the children and any supporting family members get use to working with. Plan fun activities that don’t cost the earth as that helps to distract them and you from missing whoever is away. I also say that it’s important for the girls to talk and tell me how they’re feeling, especially if they’re missing their Dad, and if possible we will try and call or message him so that they can speak. I also make sure that I tell them if I’m missing him and not hide my feelings, open and honest communication is very important.
When it comes to house moves and school moves, I always plan ahead and research where we’re moving to in order to find out what schools/childcare are available and how to go about getting them registered. I also look into any activities like ballet or gymnastics in order to keep some continuity with what hobbies the girls like to do. It also helps them to settle in to wherever you’re moving to and to make new friends. For me, it’s usually seeing if there’s a choir near base to join and to find the local gym and any good running routes! It’s important to keep up your own hobbies and interests too in order for you to keep busy and happy – which will mean a happy family life too.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help either – especially with other wives/partners, we’ve all been there and know that a helping hand or an offer of a cup of tea will help.
- Have you got any baking traditions in your house linked to military life? For example, do you always cook the same homecoming meal, biscuits or cakes? (Please do mention your new book that you are working on)
When my husband has been away, he will always request the sam meal to eat on his return – honey roast ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables and parsley sauce – nothing fancy but proper comfort food that I would request when I was away from home. Food to me is a way of showing how much I love or care for someone, and when my husband returns home, making him his favourite food is just one way of showing how much we’ve missed him and how much we love him! The connection between food and home and showing how much you care is central to the next cookery book that I’m writing as it’s all connected to the importance of food within the military community.
- We think that baking is a great parent and child activity. What are your favourite things to bake with your children?
Baking and cooking is a fantastic activity to do with children and young people of all ages. It can be relatively inexpensive and lots of fun! With a parent away, the children will crave more attention and more time with whoever is home, and so planning and preparing meals to eat or treats to bake is a great way of spending more time together and eating too! My daughters help me make pretty much everything in the kitchen! They love weighing ingredients for baking and chopping vegetables for cooking. Getting your little troopers involved in the kitchen will teach them so many valuable skills…..oh, and be prepared for things to get messy and try not to worry about it!?
- What advice would you give to anyone looking to hold their own ‘Get Cakey’ event this autumn?
My advice is to make treats that you know others will want to buy and eat! Having items already cut up like brownies or individual cakes like muffins to sell will make things easier and less messy for you too. Holding an event on a Friday morning always seems to work well as people tend to be a bit more relaxed on a Friday and having a cake to enjoy with your mid-morning coffee is always good in my books!
- What treats do you think work best at charity fundraisers?
Cookies and shortbreads sell well as well as brownies and colourfully decorated cupcakes!
- What would you say to someone who is interested in running a Get Cakey event, but is nervous about baking for other people or advertising their event?
Don’t be nervous! Try and get a couple of people to help as this will take some pressure off you from planning it all. There’s no need to create a showstopper worthy of the Bake Off tent, something classic and tasty will be perfect and won’t cover your kitchen in icing sugar!! Give everyone enough notice about your event and remind them nearer the time that it’s happening. Most importantly, have fun and make it a nice and relaxed event….now go Get Cakey!!