Nursing home residents who spent months during lockdown baking their favourite desserts have published their recipes in a new book.
The time-perfected desserts created by the residents of a Co Clare nursing home will be remembered in the Nursing Home Bake Off publication, which has been backed by celebrity chef Darina Allen.
The idea to gather a collection of residents’ favourite recipes was inspired by the trailblazing baking skills of 91-year-old Cissie Collins in Ennis Nursing Home.
An ardent hurling fan and Liverpool FC supporter, she makes scones and apple cakes for fellow residents during baking demonstrations hosted by her every Wednesday.
It became evident that there was a large group of enthusiastic bakers throughout the group, sowing the seed of a book with recipes from bygone days.
Ms Collins is one of the 51 kitchen-savvy pensioners living in Mowlam Healthcare nursing homes across Ireland who contributed recipes, some dating back three generations, and features on its front cover.
The grandmother said: “I haven’t got a minute.
“Every Wednesday, I give a demonstration here and we usually have people after lunch with some time to spare, and they come and watch it.
“I like it because I know it’s giving comfort to the other people who are waiting anxiously for it and that’s what gives me the joy.”
The 106-page book, which is not a commercial venture, transports readers into the heart of Irish kitchens to learn how to make simple, yet delicious, desserts.
It also tells the stories of the exceptional men and women who shared their recipes.
Designed by residents for residents, it includes 80-year-old Teresa McDonagh’s gingerbread cookies, baked in Moycullen in Galway, Julia Coleman (92), from Limerick, shares her take on a wild strawberry sponge while Gregory Duffy (80), in Co Meath, contributed a traditional Irish apple tart.
Top chef Darina Allen backed the venture and gifted two of her own recipes to the book.
Joe Hanrahan of Mowlam said: “We were delighted to facilitate the compiling and production of this beautiful book.
“It is a fitting way to mark the end of our 20th anniversary year enhancing the quality of life of older people in Ireland.
“This book was a way of documenting recipes from yesteryear, learning from residents as well as supporting them to fill their days with meaning and purpose.
“While it has been different for residents in nursing homes due to the pandemic and restrictions on visiting, life did go on as normal.
“We are very proud that the skills and traditions of our residents are now in print and copies of the recipe book are being distributed to all homes.”
Ms Allen said: “I’m so happy to support this inspired project, especially in the year that’s in it.
“Many wonderful recipes and stories of traditional home baking, with skills lovingly passed from mother to child down through the generations.
“Bravo to all the inspirational residents who contributed to the recipe book.
“How brilliant is it to see them living well and keeping up their skills in nursing home care.
“Keep baking and carry on.”