Christmas is Coming - Merle Parish

There’s no denying home baking is on the rise and my last guest on the 'Christmas is Coming series' is a much loved MasterChef guest and Country Women’s Association Champion. She is none other than Merle Parrish.

With just about every prize in the competitive baking world under her belt, 80-year-old Merle Parrish knows a thing or two and she shares her country-cooking secrets, tips and recipes in a stunning second book, Merle’s Country Show Baking and Other Favourites.

With more than 100 recipes, and stunning photography, tips and handy hints throughout, Merle’s Country Show Baking and Other Favourites is cooking at its cosiest and most accessible. From cinnamon tea cake to a classic Cornish pasty; from coconut macaroons to a rich and chocolatey rocky road; and from home-made tomato sauce to delicious plum jam, spread thickly over a warm, toasty country wholemeal cob loaf, Merle reminds us of the pleasure that comes from good, old-fashioned baking at home. 

Merle Parrish has been competing from the age of 7 in state cookery competitions, and became a judge herself in 1988 when she completed her CWA Judges’ Certificate. She has won just about every prize in every category in the competitive baking world. Merle won the hearts of Masterchef viewers with her cheeky sense of humour (sitting and knitting while her competitor raced around the kitchen during an immunity challenge and asking to keep the prize pin) and earnt the judges’ admiration for her impeccable technique and near-perfect cakes.

Merle lives in Cudal, near Orange in New South Wales, and continues to compete in shows. She is the author of the bestselling Merle’s Kitchen.


Remember to share, tweet, retweet, mention any of these posts on Facebook and Twitter using the tag #bushchristmas and you'll go into the draw for a $75.00 Booktopia voucher.

Leave a comment here for your chance to get a Christmas Card direct from Merle, or maybe a free book from the giveaway pile.


In your own words tell us a little about your new release …



I'm very thrilled to release my second cook book. The recipes are mostly handed down from my grandmother and mother; they were great cooks too. I started cooking Anzacs and entering them in shows when I was seven which started my love of cooking. I think because both my mother and grandmother cooked it was a natural thing to do. I also realised as I grew up that there were no cakes shops in the little village where I lived. If you didn't cook you didn't get cakes!



What was the idea/the revelation/the ‘kicking off point’/the impetus for writing this particular novel?

My family, my late husband and three grown-up children, always said to me, 'Mum you should write a book with all these recipes.' I always said yes, but didn't do it. After I appeared on Masterchef, there was a prime opportunity to make that dream a reality. The first book went so well, Random House, my publisher, asked me did I have anymore recipes. I did, so we now have another beautiful book. They do a wonderful job. I just love it. 

What is your funniest ‘real life’ Christmas story?

Last Christmas I had just had a new kitchen put in and the stove had only been connected four days before Christmas Day. On the big festive day we put the chicken in the oven and worked out we needed to put the vegies in one hour after that. When we went to put in the vegetables, we realised to our horror the stove wasn't even on! We'd forgotten to push the second button! So, subsequently, we had cold meat for Christmas lunch and hot roast chicken on Boxing Day.

Best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

A new Sunbeam mixmaster from my family. I've worn out four!

Worst Christmas present you’ve ever received?

I don't think I've ever received a bad present.

Best Christmas present you’ve ever bought for someone else?

Some jewellery I bought for my only daughter. It was a very emotional time.

This Christmas, who would be the best person to buy your novel for?

Buy it for your friends or family members who love cooking (and even cake decorating) especially the old fashioned country way. I've been doing a lot of touring around schools judging cooking lately.

I always say if young people start to learn to cook at least they know what they're eating as they have to prepare it themselves. Seven or eight is a good time to start, with mum's guidance of course, and I won't let them wipe down the mix-master until they're at least twelve. Recently I attended the Molong Primary School where I had to judge 296 patty cakes! I didn't know how I was going to get through them all :)

If you visit my website or Facebook page reasonably regularly, you'll know just how much I love to bake. Taught from a young age by a Grandmother who loved to bake and enter shows, just like Merle, you can imagine just how much at home I was when Merle and I chatted about all things to do with cakes. I adored this lovely lady's first book Merle's Kitchen with the banana cake, cupcakes and Choc-chip biscuits becoming household favourites. I'm sure there will be many recipes in this new cook book that will be added to the rapidly expanding list. 

Thanks to the delightful generosity of Random House, Australia, we have one copy of Merle's new book, Merle's Country Show Baking and Other Favourites to give away to some lucky, lucky home baker. Comment below and go in the draw to win!

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