Meet the Waterlooville woman behind delicious food blog, Jane's Patisserie
Jane Dunn’s happy place is her kitchen.
Armed with a spatula and several bars of chocolate, it is where her creativity blossoms into the most indulgent, mouth-watering bakes.
The Waterlooville baker and blogger has achieved incredible success in the past year. From growing her Instagram following from 175k to a staggering 700,000, Jane also secured a book contract with one of the UK’s biggest publishing houses and it will be published in August.
‘It’s so surreal,’ says Jane, who grew up in Purbrook. ‘When they approached me about the book, I was speechless.’
Jane says she believes her natural flair for cooking and baking is innate, inherited from her grandmother. She says: ‘My mum always says I got the baking bug from my gran and that I am very similar to her. There’s a lovely picture from my first birthday and my gran had baked my cake then.
‘I always loved doing bake sales at school. I never did food tech classes so I have created a love for it myself.’
When Jane was leaving school, she considered going to university to study graphic design or architecture. But the sweet scent of a career in food led her down a different path.
‘Both of my parents worked in education and my brother is interested in history and archaeology. But I just love food,’ says Jane, laughing.
‘I started looking at different schools. There were courses at Le Cordon Blue and Leith’s in London but then I found a six-month intensive course at Ashburton Cookery School and Chefs Academy in Devon.’
At 21, Jane packed her bags to move to the countryside and enrolled on to the full-time Advanced Diploma in Cuisine and Patisserie – the cookery school’s highest-level award, combining the study of culinary arts and patisserie.
In the space of just 30 weeks, Jane learnt about the art of patisserie, developing the fine technical skills and creativity of a pastry chef, as well as the broader gastronomic skills, presentation and kitchen management of the Chef de Cuisine.
Jane, 28, says: ‘Living in Devon and working with locally-sourced food was incredible.
‘The course was the most amazing thing I could have imagined doing. It was very intense because you were learning all aspects of cooking, but my favourite part and what I was good at was patisserie.’
Jane’s initial idea was to blog her journey through cookery school. However the intensive course left little room for anything else but cooking.
It was when Jane graduated in November 2014 that her blog and Instagram – aptly named Jane’s Patisserie – was born.
‘I started blogging any recipes I was trying and uploaded three times a week,’ explains Jane. ‘I was a fully-qualified chef and started looking into cheffing jobs at Michelin-star restaurants. However, I soon realised that the lifestyle wasn’t for me. I am not diminishing their work because chefs do incredible things but it was very, very intense.’
‘I honestly didn’t think anyone would be reading my blog and I think my family and friends must have thought I was a little bit crazy.’
Through social media, Jane got involved with other bloggers in the food community and she started speaking to different people about new recipes.
‘Things grew quite gradually to start with. I remember in 2015, I created a Rolo cheesecake and that was the first time one of my posts got a lot of views,’ says Jane. ‘A lot of my bakes are very indulgent and I want them to be the type that people tag their friends into to create at home.’
For nearly six years, Jane grew her social media platform to 175k followers. But since March 2020, she has gained an additional 525k followers and she thanks lockdown for this. ‘I think everyone being bored in lockdown means they have got into baking and it’s a fun activity you can do with your family.’
Jane has also had support from other influencers, such as Zoe Sugg, who has 9.2m followers; Mrs Hinch – the UK's biggest clean-fluencer; and singer and TV personality, Stacey Solomon.
Jane explains: ‘I have become quite close with Zoe actually. She’s lovely and has supported me from the beginning.
‘One day, I was going through my unread direct messages and saw a blue tick next to one. Perrie Edwards, from Little Mix, had sent me a message about one of my cakes she was baking. It was the most lovely and down-to-earth conversation. I had such a fangirl moment. I just thought “this is so surreal”.’
Jane’s blog and social media has been her full-time job for three years. Before, she had worked as a barista, in customer service and even for a Santa’s Grotto but baking is what makes her day, every day. She says: ‘That amount of followers can be daunting but it’s also incredible. It’s grown to the point where I have started to be recognised in the street. It’s so lovely meeting people who like my work.
‘The other day I met a teacher who said she baked my recipes with her pupils over Zoom during lockdown. It makes my day that people appreciate what I have done.’
Jane was approached by Ebury Publishing in summer 2020 to create her own cookbook and now it’s going to be published on August 5, 2021. She says: ‘A book contract was terrifying but in such a good way. My team has been so great and made it possible.
‘I handed the manuscript in at the beginning of December. I had three months to create lots of new recipes. It was pretty crazy but I loved it.’
‘My book is based on recipes that my audience have requested . The book is filled with 60 brand new recipes of customisable bakes and requested recipes. By customisable, I mean you can change the fruit or chocolate, so they needed extra tests.
‘I am always dropping goodies around to my parents and friends to help me taste them. I don’t like wasting food.
‘Because of Covid, I couldn’t be at the book shoot however the team have been amazing and kept me informed every step of the way. I chose the photographer and could see what they were doing so it worked really well.’
Jane had to keep the exciting book contract a secret from her followers until March 23 and the reaction on Instagram was ‘incredible’. ‘I didn’t stop crying all day,’ says Jane, laughing.
Looking forward to her book’s publication date, Jane has not taken her hands off the whisk just yet. Alongside spending time and walking her golden retriever Rolo and black Labrador Thor, Jane has been busy preparing for her favourite baking season.
‘I love Easter, it’s one of my favourite times to bake,’ she says. ‘I love anything with Mini Eggs. But one of my favourite recipes is the chocolate chip NYC cookies. The New York style is by far my favourite because they are so chunky.’
I don’t think anyone would have to think twice about trying those.
n To see a full selection of Jane’s specially-curated, indulgent recipes, go to janespatisserie.com or @janespatisserie on Instagram.
nTo pre-order Jane’s new book, ‘Jane’s Patisserie: Deliciously customisable cakes, bakes and treats’, go to Amazon, Blackwells, Bookshop.org, Foyles, Hive, Waterstones and WHSmith.