Baking The Great British Wedding Cake


I never thought I would make wedding cakes, the one time I had in the past was fine but I wasn’t very inspired and I didn’t enjoy the process all that much, to be honest I found it boring. But when I was asked to take part in The Great British Wedding Cake I thought, why not, lets see what challenges they throw us? And it turns out I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was creative, challenging and I ended up making two cakes I absolutely loved, both of which I would be happy to have at my own wedding one day. I enjoyed making the wedding cakes so much that I have since even taken a couple of orders to make cakes for real couples and their real weddings not just for TV.

Traditional Cake

My traditional cake was based around my Nanna’s christmas cake recipe, which if you watched carefully was a bit more like a dundee cake. Many people dont like traditional dark wedding cake because it’s heavy and very very rich. The cake I made is the opposite of that stereotype, it’s lighter and moist and not heavy at all, it has converted quite a few haters of wedding cake in its time. I kept the decoration simple and what I thought was rather classy and spring-like, perfect for this time of year.

Modern Cake

Of course my modern wedding cake was made of macarons, what else could it be? I hadn’t actually made this cake until the day we did it for the show. Sure that’s not the wisest decision but I loved the finished look and I’m sure this will become a signature, I’ve already been asked to make another. If you can make macarons well, then you can make this cake. It needs accuracy, as the macarons need to be the same size, and needs to be assembled as close to the wedding reception as possible as it isn’t as stable as a wedding cake, but I think it makes for a stunning alternative to the more traditional choice and the extra effort is well worth it.

The Boy Who Bakes – The Book

I know I have mentioned it in the past but I thought it might be time to properly announce it – I have a baking book coming out in September of this year (I have my final photoshoot tomorrow)!! It has just been added onto Amazon and is available to pre-order, I really hope you all like it. It’s called The Boy Who Bakes and is baking that I love, in my modern and slightly inventive style. I can’t tell you how excited I am for everyone to see it, the recipes are ones I love and the book is looking beautiful!

In other news, I wanted to quickly let you all know that I will be doing a few food festivals this year and will announce them as they are confirmed but so far…

Glynde Food Festival 16th-17th July

http://www.glynde.co.uk/food_and_drink_festival/index.html

Harvest at Jimmys 9th-12th September

http://harvestatjimmys.com/

Hope to see some of you there! :)

Mum’s Apple Crumble

I know Mothers Day was last week but I was working all day in the kitchen making a few hundred macarons so couldnt spend it with my own lovely mother. It did however get me thinking about family recipes and what they mean to me. I dont have that many to choose from but those that I do have are precious and mean an awful lot to me. If you follow me on twitter then you will know that I have a cookbook coming out later in the year, which is why I have been a bad blogger recently, and of course it will include a few of those cherished recipes. We recently started the photoshoots for the book and this week we shot a recipe of my Nannas, and it made me want to get back in the kitchen and bake something that my mum used to make us almost every week, a simple apple crumble. There isnt a written recipe its basically just a ratio. 2 parts flour to 1 part sugar and 1 part butter, very simple, very classic and totally delicious. When I was younger I always craved apple purely on its own but over the years we had many variations from apple and raspberry to gooseberry and rhubarb, all delicious but its the simple apple crumble that I crave the most.

Mum’s Apple Crumble

130g plain flour

65g caster sugar

65g butter

25g oats

650g bramley apples

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

150g caster sugar

For the crumble topping add the flour, sugar and butter into a medium bowl and rub together using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats and cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven 200C/390C. Peel, core and roughly dice the apples and toss together in a medium bowl with the lemon juice, cinnamon and caster sugar.

Add the apple mixture to a 1.1-litre ovenproof dish and sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples. Bake in the preheated for 45 minutes until the apple filling is bubbling and the topping is lightly golden.

Allow to cool slightly before serving with cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I would also like to quickly say im supporting a new charity campaign launched by Belling supporting FoodCycle, a charity that redirects edible surplus food thrown away by food retailers, to create nutritious meals for people affected by food poverty. Belling are crowd sourcing 140 character recipes on twitter and the best ones will be chosen to be published in Tweet Pie, the worlds shortest recipe book, the proceeds of which will go towards FoodCycle’s work. Not only could your recipe appear in the cokbook but you could also win one of ten Baby Belling Black cookers.If I was to convert my recipe for twitter this is what it would look like:

650gApples/2tspLemon/1tspCinnamon/150gSugar Add to dish 130gFlour/65gSugar/65gButter/25gOats rub together, add on top apples bke@200C 45mins

To enter the competition tweet your recipe using the hashtag #tweetpie take a look here for more info and tips http://www.belling.co.uk/twecipe

Re-inventing the Lamington

2010 Winner

Sorry for the lack of posts again (sorry for sounding like a broken record) but I have been very busy again. I am writing this from my new London apartment which I finished moving into this afternoon. I have been living here for a month or so but in the spare room at a friends place but this week I moved into what is actually my first real flat of my own, fingers crossed the oven works.

My friend Mr P over at DeliciousDeliciousDelicious.blogspot.com has asked me to help judge his annual Lamington reinvention competition and it was a bit of a tough choice. The entries were so inventive and creative, I mean there was even a volcano lamington!!

After a little deliberation I settled on my favourite three, all of which have retained the traditional shape which I thought was important. so for the three I chose

Apple Streusel Lamingtons

Katherine came up with something that sounds just up my alley. I adore cream cheese frosting and apple streusel is one of the best desserts around so combining them into a bitesize chunk is bound to get my attention.

Alfajore Lamingtons

I adore caramel, its possibly my favourite thing. Ever. And dulce de leche, the latin american milk caramel is a wonderful version. Alfajores are traditionally a sandwich cookie and I love the twist of using cake instead of cookie, and I can imagine the flavour is great.

Pumpkin Lamingtons

I was only recently converted to using pumpkin in baking and I love seeing it used in other ways besides pie. The addition of the cranberry sauce makes me think of autumn and thanksgiving and again I really want to taste these.

 

PB&J Bars

I know I know I have been terrible with the blog recently, embarrassingly I haven’t given you a new recipe since back in November, ill go and hang my head in shame shall I? As im sure you can guess ive been pretty busy the last few months. In the last week I moved house and now live in London. Im staying with a friend for a few weeks while I look for my first apartment and my first ever kitchen of my own, I cant wait to get it all set up and ready to go. Anyway now im getting back into the swing of things I thought I would share a new recipe of mine. It was inspired by watching some American comedy and they were making peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches and whilst im a big fan of both jam and peanut butter I had never had together in a sandwhich. And no dont worry the recipe isnt for a sandwhich but and PB&J shortbread bar. Its so easy but also delicious.

PB+J Shortbread Bars

450g Plain Flour

300g Unsalted Butter

150g Caster Sugar

1/4 tsp salt

150g smooth peanut butter

250g jam (choice up to you)

1. Press a piece of foil into the base and up the sides of a 9×13 baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

2. Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until the ingredients form a dough.

3. Tip the dough out onto the worksurface and lightly knead until it becomes uniform. Remove a third of the dough and wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed. Press the remaining dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 mins or until lightly golden around the edges. leave to cool for 20 mins.

4. Spread the peanut butter evenly on the cooled base then repeat with the jam. Remove the third of dough from the fridge and crumble into pieces and scatter evenly over the jam. Bake for a further 25-30 mins or until the crumbled dough starts to colour a little bit. Cool completely before cutting into 12 large squares.

2010 Roundup

Its fair to say 2010 has been one amazing year. I started off working as a litigation clerk for a bank, a job I really didnt enjoy, and ended up the year by basically becoming self employed about to embark on some massive changes. You could say that my life has turned upside down. I, slightly reluctantly, entered The Great British Bake Off and beyond all my expectations I only went and won! Along the way there was of course a lot of baking, many cookbooks bought (a practice I have had to stop, cant justify cookbooks with no income!) and a holiday to Paris. Since ive been too busy to blog the way I would like I thought I would do a roundup of my favourite recipes, cookbooks etc of the year. Continue reading

The Great British Bake Off – Series 2

Sorry for not posting much recently but I’ve been very busy, actually I’ll hopefully have some big news to share soon.  The Great British Bake Off was the best thing I have ever done, it lead to some amazing experiences and I had a wonderful time filming the show, which brings me to the point of this post.  The show is getting a second series and the BBC is looking for 10 more amateur bakers who love home baking and want to put there skills to the test, and steal my title! If you are interested and want to find out more email baking@loveproductions.co.uk or call 020 7067 4876

If you fancy it but are not sure, I’m happy to answer any questions about the process you might have. Just leave a comment and I’ll answer.

To apply you must be over 16 on 1 April 2011. As an ‘amateur baker’ your main source of income cannot come from commercial baking in a professional environment and you cannot have ever worked full-time as a baker or chef. You cannot have acquired any catering NVQ or other professional catering qualifications in the past 10 years.

Further Info

- There have been a couple of requests for more info about the application and audition process so here is how it worked for me. This does not mean it will be the same this year but it might help.

The first stage was a paper application, which is quite long but nothing scary or out of the ordinary. This was followed by a phone call to get a feel for you and to flesh out what I wrote in the application. The first major part was the first audition, where you took some baked goods to a kind of mock judging with the judges, this was immediately followed by a screen test. After all this there was a bit of a gap but once everyone else had been seen you then heard if you got through to the final audition, a mini bakeoff to see how you coped with cameras and time limits. This was when you wait to find out the verdict. I cant remember the exact time line but I do know I applied in February and found out I was on the show in May. Filming took place over 7-8 weeks mainly on the weekends. Whilst that may seem not too intense, bear in mind you have normal life, recipe writing, and practice in between filming too. Yes it is intense but it is also a lot of fun and obviously, it can lead to exciting things so its well worth a go.

Pumpkin Pie

I have a brand new favourite when it comes to autumnal dessert and it’s an American classic, pumpkin pie. You can forget apple pie, pecan pie and even Mississippi mud pie my new love is pumpkin. Actually scratch that I don’t think I could choose a favourite, how about we just say I love pie! Now first off I must say this recipe isn’t groundbreaking, it doesn’t use any weird ingredients. In fact the recipe comes from the back of a can, the Libbys pumpkin purée can to be exact. Yes I really am posting what must be the most commonly used pumpkin pie recipe around, the pastry recipe is one of mine though and hopefully it might encourage other Brits to try this American classic. Continue reading