[tasty review + recipe] Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story by Nadiya Hussain

All of us here in the Alphabet Soup kitchen were thrilled when Nadiya Hussain won Season 3 of The Great British Baking Show (‘Great British Bake Off’ in the UK).

We loved her unusual flavor combinations and beautiful presentations, and it was awesome seeing how her confidence grew each week as she tackled all those signature bakes, technical challenges and show stoppers.

Nadiya wins Series 6 of The Great British Bake-Off.

Most agree that she also captivated audiences with her telling facial expressions. Her flexible eyebrows sometimes told the whole story: determination, panic, joy, disappointment, fear, frustration. It was such an emotional moment when she was declared winner and said, “”I’m never gonna put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never gonna say I can’t do it. I’m never gonna say ‘maybe’. I’m never gonna say, ‘I don’t think I can.’ I can and I will.

This 31-year-old Leeds wife and mother of three has been very busy since her big win last year. In September 2016, she published Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story, a charming collection of 15 updated fairy tales + recipes for children, and her adult cookbook featuring family recipes, Nadiya’s Kitchen, will come out in 2017.

Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story is sheer delight and rollicking good fun from cover to cover. Kudos to the art director and book designer for creating such an appealing, kid friendly resource that’s not only a pleasure to read but easy to use for budding chefs of all ages.

Nadiya with a giant-sized stack of Jack’s Bean Patties.

The mixed media illustrations are a fetching blend of Clair Rossiter’s emotive, humorous drawings and actual photographs of Nadiya and her three children cavorting with story characters, food items and each other.  All the recipes are presented in double page spreads with color photos of the finished product and adorable spot illos, and there are cleverly designed title pages for each story.

Hansel and Gretel in the old lady’s House of Treats.

Best of all is Nadiya’s writing — she’s added lots of humor and verve to the fairy tales to give them a fresh contemporary twist that kids are sure to love. She felt that most fairy tales are too grim and wanted to create happy endings for the characters. No doubt she’s had lots of practice reading to Musa, Dawud and Maryam, whom she credits with helping her fine tune the tales, most notably telling her when something is or isn’t funny. Also love how all the finished recipes (tarts, biscuits, cakes, muffins) are seamlessly incorporated into the stories. 🙂

Nadiya with her mischievous co-horts.

So, the beloved gingerbread “guy” doesn’t get eaten by the sly fox because he was baked with star anise instead of ginger; Cinderella is a college student with two part time jobs and a houseful of lazy relatives, and instead of seven dwarfs, Snow White lives with a passel of quirky flatmates, one who has allergies, another who’s a daydreamer, and another who’s always tired from working night shifts.

Remember Sleeping Beauty? She’s now “Sleepless Beauty,” with a case of insomnia so bad her parents, the King and Queen, announce that “anyone who could help their daughter sleep would be rewarded with a lifetime’s supply of safety pins.” Hilarious!

Jack’s Bean Patties are made with butter beans.

Besides Star Anise Gingerbread Men, Pumpkin and Spice Flapjacks, and French Apple Tart, munchkins can whip up a cup of Cardamom and Malt Hot Chocolate to ensure a good night’s sleep. And how much do I love the idea of a Zebra Cake, Cookie Mallows, and Cinnamon Palmiers? Besides sweet treats, Nadiya has included Cheese and Onion Tart, Jack’s Bean Patties, and Pea and Mint Risotto. 🙂

Love all the cool title pages for each of the stories.

When I first saw Nadiya on the show, she looked a bit stern and serious (maybe it was nerves), but this book proves she has a fabulous sense of humor and showcases her awesome writing chops. Speaking of which, she’s also signed on to write three contemporary women’s fiction novels with Harlequin, and she writes regular columns for The Times Sunday Magazine and Essential magazine.

As if she doesn’t already have enough on her plate, she’s also a popular television presenter, last year she did a 2-part BBC travelogue documentary (Chronicles of Nadiya), and this past Spring she baked a birthday cake for the Queen’s 90th Birthday (orange drizzle cake with orange curd and orange buttercream)!

Did you know that Cinnamon Palmiers make excellent elephant ears?

Nadiya’s truly a national treasure, a positive role model for multicultural Britain and a huge inspiration for British Muslims in particular. She was recently included on a list of 101 Most Influential Asian People (coming in at #5, topping Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, film directors, MPs and prominent businessmen).

At the outset she was concerned that no one would think a Bangladeshi woman in a hijab knew anything about baking British sweets. Boy, did she defy any and all expectations! She’s only been baking for about 11 years, having caught the bug in a high school home economics class. Eating dessert after dinner wasn’t part of her cultural upbringing and she used to wonder why ice cream instead of baked treats was served at her father’s restaurant. She’s essentially self-taught, and honed her baking skills by reading cookbooks and watching youTube videos.

Nadiya with her fave recipe in the book, Blueberry and Orange Soda Bread.

What’s really lovely is how she’s just as creative in the kitchen as she is on the page, and she’s been blessed with a natural charisma that makes it easy to connect with audiences. She’s now slated to judge an upcoming series of Junior Bake Off (a spin-off of GBBO), and she recently signed with the BBC to develop new projects, ending speculation that she might have a role in the Great British Bake Off when it moves to Channel 4 (commercial TV).



Naturally we had to try one of Nadiya’s recipes, and predictably, Mr Cornelius chose her Very-Berry Breakfast Muffins, which goes with the second story in the book, “Ruby-Red, The Three Bears and the Very-Berry Breakfast.”

No Goldilocks in Nadiya’s adaptation, just a plucky redhead who decides to take a nap  at the bears’ house while out shopping and looking for berries. Before snoozing she eats all the porridge in Little Bear’s bowl. When he returns home and finds his bowl empty, Little Bear cries . . . and wakes up Ruby-Red, who feels badly and offers to help the family bake up a batch of yummy breakfast muffins. Happy ending for all. 🙂

Cornelius says the best stories have bears in them.

Now, I must mention that since this is a British publication, all the measurements in the recipes are in metrics, rather than U.S. Standard. I simply took out my trusty kitchen scale and converted ingredients by weight when necessary (there are also numerous conversion tables available on the internet).

These muffins are lowfat and call for only 1/3 cup of brown sugar, relying upon the mashed bananas and berries for their sweetness (I used blueberries + raspberries). I had enough batter to fill 12 muffin cups to the top, and these were fully baked after 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven. I liked the addition of rolled (old-fashioned) oats to give these a slightly chewy texture.

Perfect breakfast for hungry munchkins and a good way to make some beary nice new friends!

Nadiya's Very-Berry Breakfast Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print


  • 200 g (7 oz) plain flour
  • 200 g  (7 oz) rolled porridge oats
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) soft light brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
  • 4-5 oz mixed berries


Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.

Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Mix the eggs with the mashed bananas in a separate bowl then add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients.

Add the sunflower oil and milk, and give it all a good mix, then add the berries and mix again.

Fill each muffin case with the mixture then place the tin in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins are well-risen and golden on top.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy them warm!


  1. If using raspberries, slice them in half before adding to the batter.
  2. Since there’s very little fat in this recipe, you may want to spray the paper muffin cups with liquid vegetable oil for ease of removal before eating.
  3. You may substitute raisins for the berries. Do dust the raisins with flour before adding to prevent them from sinking.

~ Adapted from Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story (Hodder, 2016).



Enjoy this video of Nadiya making these muffins with some kids:



Bonus Recipe: Cookie Mallows!



written by Nadiya Hussain
illustrated by Clair Rossiter
photography by Dan Annett
food photography by Joe Woodhouse
published by Hodder Children’s Books
Cookbook/Storybook for ages 8+, 160 pp.
*Includes Helpful Hints and Tasty Tips

Official Book Trailer:




wkendcookingiconThis post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs and come join the fun!

Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


39 thoughts on “[tasty review + recipe] Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story by Nadiya Hussain

    1. No word yet on whether they’re going to publish an American edition. Not sure whether a book with metric measurements would be appealing to American students — though it’s good math practice to make those conversions. 🙂


  1. As a HUGE fan of the GBBS and children’s books, this is a home run for me! Thank you for letting me know about it. #1 on my to get list.


  2. I didn’t see this particular bake-off, Jama, so Nadiya is new to me. I love seeing her and the kids throughout the pages of her book, so cleverly included in those wonderful illustrations. Thanks for sharing so much!


    1. They do repeat the episodes on PBS, Linda, so maybe you can still catch Season 3 (Series 6 in the UK). We like watching the episodes over and over again — such a pleasant diversion, and who can resist that British accent?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The show is addictive. It’s also “veddy British” and feels different from commercial food network type cooking shows we have in the U.S. Worth a look!


  3. The Great British Bake Off is a favorite in my household and Nadiya was our all time favorite contestant and winner. I love that she is having so much success. The fact that she created this book with her children makes it a must have for my kitchen. Will be ordering a copy. Thanks for the review, Jama – once again stellar. =)


    1. Yes, I love how her children were involved in the process. They must have a lot of fun making meals together. Nadiya seems to be everyone’s favorite GBBO winner. It seems her post-show successes outrun the other winners too.


  4. This is the best! I just love it. What a unique idea for a cookbook. Nadiya sounds like William in my upcoming book. He cooks up fairy tale ingredients which puts a new spin on the fairy tales in my book. Thanks so much for sharing Nadiya’s book and story.


  5. Oh my goodness Jama. I love this post. I am ordering this book today. I will head over to Twitter to give it a shout out. Thank you for another uplifting review.


  6. I want dessert for dinner night! I have clearly missed out by not watching the Bake Off. She is fun, charming, and easygoing and I wish Nadiya were my BFF. Looking forward to this book AND her family cookbook. YUMMMMMMMM


  7. Like you, I’m a big fan of the Great British Baking Show and watched Nadia win with delight! I like the show so much I’ve even watched the more recent series that’s not on US TV yet (I used something called a VPN to access BBC streaming video and also watched an episode of Nadia’s travel show). I enjoyed your review of her cookbook — glad she’s become such a star.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com


    1. Yes, it’s remarkable how her career has blossomed in so many fantastic ways. She’s so multi-talented! I’m looking forward to Season 4, but I already know who won, having stumbled on several spoilers in my internet reading.


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