Comedian and TikTok star Abi Clarke describes how with great cake comes great laughs…
Much like comedy, baking requires timing, practise and the ability to laugh at yourself. It’s no surprise then that comedian Abi Clarke loves both crafts in equal measure.
While her TikToks have gone viral (17.9 million likes and counting) for her hilarious sketches and takes on everything from Love Island to the groan worthy things men say to women in the gym, Abi is also a dab hand at whipping up a sponge.
Here, she describes the parallels between her love of baking and making people laugh…
Where it all started
“My earliest baking memories are all around my mum and my nan.
“My mum always used to let me lick the bowl and made the best birthday cakes. As for my nan, when I was a kid, I used to think, “Wow, Nan is the best baker in the world.”
“She isn’t the kind of person who does everything from scratch – she used ready-made dough when we baked and decorated dinosaur biscuits together. But Nan helped spark my love for baking and scoffing cake.
“Then by the time I got to school I really unleashed my creativity. I made a cake version of my sociology teacher and gave it to him. He varnished it and kept it in the classroom. I wonder if he still has it now…
“My sixth form friends were chuffed when I started bringing in cakes for them, too. I liked to casually tell them, “Yeah, I made it myself, what more can I say?”
“I guess that show and tell aspect of my personality is why I was drawn to comedy as well.
“I’ve always been someone who’s loved performing.
“I was really into theatre and I was good at making my friends laugh (even when I was actually trying to be serious).
“But it wasn’t until a couple of years after leaving university when I felt confident enough to admit that I thought I was funny.
“I realised that people liked me for being me. It did take me quite a while to actually try stand-up, because it’s all about growing confidence.
“I really enjoy the creativity that both comedy and baking allow me: making a cake look pretty can be a bit like using rhythm and timing to put together a funny sketch.
“I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, whether that’s in the kitchen, on the stage or in front of a camera.
“My comedy career has been catapulted because of lockdown and everyone flocking to TikTok to whittle away the hours.
“After doing stand-up for a year, when the pandemic hit live comedy disappeared. Annoyingly, it also coincided with a time where I’d just started getting some momentum.
“You don’t usually see comedians until they’ve turned like 30 because it takes so long to get noticed. But the success of my comedy on TikTok throughout the lockdowns completely pressed fast-forward on my career.
“Social media let me simply show who I was and people liked that.
“In fact, my Instagram followers actually gave me the best baking tip I’ve received: bake bread in a pot with a lid.
“Although, make sure the dish you use is ovenproof - Mum wasn’t too happy when the handle of hers exploded in the oven.
“Still, the lid remained intact and the bread came out well, so I continue to listen to my followers’ advice and ask for tips.
“Sometimes, I’ll share videos of what I’m baking on my Instagram Stories. I like to pretend I’m Stacey Solomon and do a montage-style video.
“The kitchen gets very messy when I’m baking – I hate cleaning it afterwards. I wish I could keep it as clean as a Blue Peter presenter, but at least it’s all worth it in the end.
With both comedy and baking, the thing that will set you apart and get people talking (in a good way) is using your creativity and uniqueness to your advantage.
“The bake I’m most proud of is the cake I made for my brother’s wedding: a naked chocolate and raspberry cake,” says Abi.
“It went down a treat. Chocolate and fruit is the best cake flavour ever and I refuse to accept otherwise.
“I recently showed this particular combo on Instagram and everyone kicked off. “Why are you putting jam in your chocolate cake?” they asked, horrified. I still stand firm in my belief that it’s just a Victoria sponge, but better.
“It’s the same with telling jokes. Not everyone is going to like the same thing, but as long as you’re being authentic to your own experiences and way of creating comedy, that’s no bad thing.”
“In a more literal way, baking also brings its fair share of comedic moments.
“In the early days, I sometimes used a packaged mixture to make a cake. “Mmm, how did you make it so moist?” friends would ask through happy mouthfuls. “Oh, it’s… milk!” I’d tell them.
“I’ve also learned the hard way that tin foil is a woman’s best friend, especially if you have an oven like mine that’s determined to burn everything you put in it.
“But my baking is now much better and I have started writing down my signature recipes in a book, detailing the exact baking times and making notes on how to ensure the bake is moist.”
“When it comes to picking what ingredients to stock up on, I use Dr. Oetker baking powder because Mary Berry said you should always use baking powder when making cakes.
“I also like adding a bit of pizazz, so edible glitter is a big yes. And I love spreading buttercream icing over cakes, which hardens when it sets then melts in my mouth as soon as I start eating it. Mmm.
“Right now, my comedy career is really picking up thanks to the rise of TikTok in lockdown. I’m really bad at taking time off work, so baking gives me the opportunity to completely switch off.
“I don’t think about anything else while I’m focused on smoothing the icing and trying to get a straight top on a cake.
“It’s the best kind of time off and I get to gobble cake at the end of it. I might be a much better baker than I was when I was younger, but the eating part is still my favourite.”
Discover the joy of baking with Dr. Oetker’s easy-peasy and simple-to-follow recipes with no need to fret about not having enough time, equipment or skill.
Watch Abi Clarke try her hand at cake jars with Stylist here as we discuss what makes baking so fun, especially in the context of the nation reconnecting with their mixing bowls over the last year. Give it a go yourself using the ingredients below - no equipment, expert skills, or time required.