Baking magic in a lockdown world

Cork baker Patricia O’Flaherty tells Maeve Lee she enjoyed a lockdown baking challenge so much that she has now released her own book.
Baking magic in a lockdown world

Patricia O'Flaherty with her book 'Baking With A Touch of Magic'

WHEN Patricia O’Flaherty, from the Carrigaline bakery A Touch of Magic, took on a new challenge last year during lockdown, she had no idea it would lead to an online following and now a book.

Starting from March 13, she vowed to bake every day for 100 days live on her Facebook page. Her videos soon took off, with a combination of tasty treats and Patricia’s infectious enthusiasm creating the perfect recipe for lockdown entertainment, enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Patricia specialises in novelty cakes and set up her Carrigaline-based business in 2002. In 2012, she began teaching her craft.

“I just wanted to spread the gospel of cake and to spread the gospel of baking,” she laughed, explaining how her Facebook bakes have grown in popularity,

“What was lovely was the support I was getting from the viewers — which started off with maybe one viewer and then, jokes aside, it could have been maybe 10 or 20 people watching,” she says. “Now it’s gone into the hundreds where they’re watching me Facebook Live. I do it once a week now on a Sunday and it’s become a community — a cake community.”

Patricia’s videos have been enjoyed by people from across the globe, with many expats looking to rediscover old family favourites and to recreate Irish classics.

“A lot of the bakes I was doing were from my own granny because I had started so young and I was doing traditional scones; it could be a soda bread, but then what happened was that it started getting bigger and the audience grew and it ended up in Cuba, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Brazil,” she says.

“One of the things that hit home for me most was there were many people that had that form of isolation at home, without any family members and they were tuning into me.”

Patricia received messages from people who said that the videos helped them during the unknown of the first look down, or simply helped to keep their child entertained.

“And then there were some very tragic messages that would be sent through saying that they were struggling and that window of 20 minutes of just stupidity from me would just give them a little lift and they would try their hand at baking and, suddenly, they had found a passion of baking.”

Baking With A Touch Of Magic was released on St Patrick’s Day. It has already seen great success and is currently on the Book Depositary Best Selling list.

“It’s written not like an ordinary book, may I add, because I have thrown in so many ‘Irish-isims’, I call them — beat the living daylights out of something and dollop of this, a pinch of this, nosedive into a cookie — there was a delay in the book because we had to put in a disclaimer to make sure people weren’t going to nosedive into a cookie!” she says. “It is not a traditional book because it is written how I speak.”

Just one week after its release, the book is now also positioned ahead of another lockdown legend — Joe Wicks — in the Cooking with Children category on the Book Depository site.

“I’m a mother of four in Carrigaline and my book is next to Joe Wicks!” says Patricia.

The book was self-published with the help of illustrators Chris Davies and Jeremy Cunningham from Doodle Creative in Little Island and Orla Kelly Publishing, to whom Patricia gave special thanks for their help and support.

The book is jam-packed with what she described as “quick, easy, family recipes” and includes some favourites from the 100-day challenge.

Patricia is a firm believer in getting children into the kitchen cooking and baking and her book includes recipes that are easy to follow for all age groups.

And the best bit about baking?

“You can eat your mistakes!”

Baking With A Touch Of Magic is available now on Amazon, Waterstones and the Book Depository.

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