Cork woman wants to be the 'Joe Wicks' of baking for kids

EMMA CONNOLLY talks to much-loved Carrigaline-based baker Trisha O’Flaherty about her new book, inspired by her 100 days of lockdown baking
Cork woman wants to be the 'Joe Wicks' of baking for kids

Trisha O’Flaherty, confectioner extraordinare behind ‘A Touch of Magic.’

“ALL I want is for some 30-year old to remember this loopy Carrigaline lady who taught him or her how to bake when they were a kid, and for them to pass on those recipes to someone else.”

That’s according to Trisha O’Flaherty, confectioner extraordinare behind A Touch of Magic.

Trisha shot to fame during the pandemic with her ‘100 Days of Lockdown Baking;. As the name suggests, it saw her deliver an incredible run of 100 live baking demos for kids (and adults!) online every morning at 10am, and in a gesture of great generosity, deliver her goodies to those on the frontline afterwards.

Much to the delight of her fans, she has now published these recipes in a book called Baking with A Touch of Magic which is going down a treat.

Trisha explained how she took two weeks off after her 100 days ended last June, but she found she really missed her community of bakers from all over the country, Brazil, Australia, the Philippines and beyond.

“So I’m back doing it once a week, on Sunday mornings at 10am,” she said.

“I’m not the kind of person to just twiddle my thumbs. 

"And until there’s clarity for the wedding industry, which has just plummeted, I’ve put that aspect of the business on hold. There were too many variables, and it wasn’t commercially viable to keep renting a unit like I had been in Carrigaline,” she said.

Trisha O’Flaherty's new book.
Trisha O’Flaherty's new book.

But far from seeing this as a negative, Trisha took it as a ‘blessing in disguise’.

“The cake business had been me, myself and I and I was exhausted, burnt out. Since the pandemic I’ve totally rekindled my love of baking and have my mojo back,” she said.

“The cake making is very intensive work, lots of frills and fancy, and decorative work. The baking aspect of it was almost forgotten about. Lockdown gave me the freedom to go back to basics and start cracking eggs again.”

Trisha said that lots of her viewers have thanked her for ‘saving’ them during the pandemic, but she says, it was the other way around.

“They saved me and I wouldn’t have written the book without them. 

"My book is really a memento of the pandemic and something positive to come out of it,” she said.

Trisha says her 100 bakes in her book are all very traditional, and completely idiot-proof.

“It’s a real no-nonsense book. I’m getting messages from people saying that it’s the first time something like scones or a sponge has worked for them. I got a message from a 75-year-old man who never made bread before, whose wife died five years ago, and who had just made his first soda bread and delivered it to his daughter. Things like that are great.

One of the recipes in Trisah O'Flaherty's new book, Baking with a Touch of Magic.
One of the recipes in Trisah O'Flaherty's new book, Baking with a Touch of Magic.

“I just want people to know that baking is easy; once you prep like a queen, you can just crack on. And of course my catch-phrase is ‘clean as you go’, which parents love and which people are shouting over at me now in the supermarket!”

She said she was also motivated to publish her recipes to prevent them being lost to a generation. Her own granny, Sheila Stanley, was the inspiration for lots of recipes and Trisha said she’d regularly phone her mum Hilda O’Herlihy to check ingredients.

“I was very lucky growing up as my mother was great cook. I’d be put making custard and would say to her ‘Oh, it’s getting thick,’ and she’d tell me to just add milk and it would be fine! A lot of it is confidence, I was left to do it. Kids need to learn to crack eggs themselves!”

The book made it over the line with an all-Cork team, Orla Kelly Publishing and Doodle Creative for the book cover and graphics.

One of the recipes in Trisah O'Flaherty's new book, Baking with a Touch of Magic.
One of the recipes in Trisah O'Flaherty's new book, Baking with a Touch of Magic.

Next up for Trisha is revamping her website to reflect the change in direction of her business and she has also made her first foray into the world of TikTok.

She has 9,500 Facebook followers, 3,200 on Instagram and 600 on YouTube. ‘That’s thanks to my daughter Sophie, who is nearly 14, who is my social media guru!” joked Trisha.

She is also mum to Katie (21), who is studying in UCC; Lucy, (18) at Leaving Cert, and Darragh (12) in 5th class.

“I never knew I’d love the camera so much,” Trisha said.

“What I’d really like is to become the Joe Wicks of baking for kids and educate the next generation of great bakers.”

Baking with A Touch of Magic is available on Amazon and The Book Depository and other outlets.

They saved me and I wouldn’t have written the book without them. My book is really a memento of the pandemic and something positive to come out of it.

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