I’ve been reflecting of late: does our constant pursuit of innovation and looking ahead for the next trend blind us to the benefits of wisdom and experience? Wherever you stand on this, who wouldn’t pause in admiration of a dame – reputedly the UK’s favourite baker – who has produced more than 70 cookbooks? I’ve lost count of how often recently I’ve written a version of the sentence, ‘Like many of us she has spent the last few years locked down, cooking for her family, reflecting on her favourite dishes, giving us classics with a twist and sharing fresh discoveries,’ yet that is what this book is based on. If you are already a devotee of Mary Berry, you probably won’t profit from a re-run of recipes such as her Victoria sponge sandwich or plain madeira cake. But if you’re working on the principle that you only need one good recipe for the classics, then you could do a lot worse than this: a straightforward recipe, reassuringly free of fads, with all the details explained and a sure-fire result. Away from the baking, there are a lot of hearty stews, but it’s not all old-fashioned British stodge: to give Mary her due there’s a smattering of influences such as a creditable Kashmiri curry, katsu chicken and Thai vegetable wraps alongside a scrumptious-looking cod and crayfish crumble, a Spanish chicken and chickpea stew and a roasted vege filo tart that I’d make in a heartbeat. Even after decades of cooking, Mary still claims to find joy in the kitchen and in these anxious and uncertain times a little joy goes a long way. TRACY WHITMEY