I’ve been a big fan of The Great British Bake Off for years. And really, what’s not to love? The competition is kind, not cutthroat, and the bakers exhibit endless creativity, dreaming up countless whimsical bakes — and even a (slightly questionable) Freddie Mercury cake. But my favorite part is the aesthetic of it all: the charming drawings and the cute bakeware, mixing bowls, and presentation platters that competitors use. The stylish white baking dishes with blue trim that are often featured during savory pie week especially caught my eye, and once I saw them I knew I had to have them. I’d spotted these same dishes on other British cooking programs, like Jamie Oliver’s many shows (including Keep Cooking and Carry On, the series he made during the coronavirus lockdown), and at trendy restaurants in the U.K. It seemed like they were everywhere except in my kitchen.
That’s how I became obsessed with Falcon Enamelware, an iconic British cookware brand that has been around since 1920. I first bought the small pie dishes I saw on Bake Off a couple of years ago so my husband, who’s from Manchester, England, could make the cheese and onion and steak and potato pies that he grew up with. We then added a square baking tray, a mug, and even a serving spoon. Like I said, obsessed.
But it wasn’t until the pandemic that I bought my favorite thing from Falcon Enamelware: a set of five prep bowls and one colander. I’m usually a very disorganized cook. I avoid prep work, so I end up furiously chopping ingredients to add to a pan before it overheats. Like everyone else, I’ve been cooking way more than usual over the past few months, and I realized I needed to spend a little more time planning and organizing ingredients to make cooking marginally less stressful and a lot more enjoyable. These bowls did the trick.
The sturdy, stylish bowls have inspired me to actually prep all my ingredients before I start cooking. The set features several different sizes, so they’re perfect for a variety of other jobs, too, like whisking eggs and whipping up pancakes and brownie mix. This summer, I loved using the colander to rinse off farmers market strawberries. We eat popcorn from them on movie nights, serve big salads out of them, and fill them with fruit to display on our kitchen counters. Yes, any old bowl or sieve could be used for these tasks, but this cheery set motivates me to cook and entices me to fill them up with new recipes, keeping pandemic cooking fatigue away.
Besides their helpfulness in the kitchen, these bowls remind me of so many happy times traveling around Britain and visiting London spots like St. John Restaurant and Flat Iron, which use the enamelware to serve their spinach pies, bone marrow garlic mash, and beef tallow popcorn, among many other dishes. Since travel is at a standstill, my set helps me look forward to future adventures, whenever they may come. For now, I’ll enjoy the nostalgia I feel each time I pull the bowls out of the cabinet. I doubt I’ll make any Bake Off-style showstoppers any time soon, but they’re just as enjoyable with popcorn.