Monthly Archives: August 2010

Carrot Cake

For a self proclaimed pastry geek I read some exciting news this week. Claire Clark the former pastry chef of the world renowned French Laundry is coming back to her home shores to do a pop up patisserie at Harvey Nichols in London (13th sept -18th Nov). You will be able to get afternoon tea (first two weeks) as well as individual purchases. The idea is to serve patisserie inspired by Claires childhood, so things like Jaffa cake macarons. Last year I heard she was coming to London to open her own place but in the end went to work in the Bahamas (told I was a geek). Hopefully the pop up is just a prequel to her opening her own patisserie but until then you could always look up her book Indulge. I bought it years ago and for some reason never baked from it and left it neglected. After I heard about the pop up it prompted me to delve back in and take another look. I’m not sure why I overlooked it because it really is a beautiful book and I actually found lots of things I wanted to make. I decided to try something simpler first, mainly because I wasn’t in the mood to try anything complicated but also because it was something I love, carrot cake. I don’t have a go to recipe and was hoping this might be it. The flavour is pretty good although I would up the spicing a bit as I found it fairly subtle. I was rushing a bit when I made It so didn’t make it perfectly and it was flatter than it was supposed to be be but it was still very good. Continue reading


Great British Bake Off – Episode 2

I meant to write a post last week about my experiences of the show and of the cotswolds but never quite got around to it so this week I was prepared. I loved filming this weeks episode, the weather was so much better than the previous week. You couldn’t tell on the show but it rained almost the whole weekend and it was bitterly cold as well. Scotland was warm and sunny and when we were not filming we were out enjoying the sun. I also felt very comfortable in the kitchen compared to the week before, I was relaxed and excited to be there doing what I love.

For the first challenge we had to make biscuits and yes my definiton of biscuits includes cookies! I went with my oatmeal raisin cookies which were inspired by and adapted from a recipe from a New York bakery called Momofuku Milk Bar (original recipe here). The really interesting thing about the recipe is that they used milk powder to make crumbs to add a creaminess which I loved. So I played around and came up with a recipe using the same idea. For the show I adapted it further and changed the way I make them to make simpler and more straight forward. The recipe I used on the show isnt on the BBC website but my original adaption is here.

The Second Challenge was scones and, well… yeah I didnt do great on the challenge. I grew up on my mum’s wonderful scones and holidays in devon with real cream teas, but the ones my mum taught me to make are slightly more rustic so maybe ill just brush over this challenge…

The third and final challenge was the big one, macarons, meringues and choux buns. I make macarons a lot but not so much choux pastry and meringue but i wasn’t uncomfortable with them either. My macarons were filled with raspberry jam and a rose flavoured French buttercream. If you want to look at the recipes I use most often take a look at this post here.

Gevulde Speculaas – Dutch Spice Cake

So I seem to be on a bit of a continental kick at the moment. My last post used speculoos spread from Belgium, bought back from France and todays post is a recipe for Dutch spiced caked stuffed with almond paste, called Gevulde Speculaas. Yes Speculoos and Speculaas are basically the same thing but from different regions. Speculaas are from Holland and are spiced cookies, traditionally served on Nicholas’ Eve, but are now available year round. Speculoos are the belgian version and the difference just seems to be less spicing. Gevulde Speculaas translates as filled biscuit and that pretty much sums it up, the biscuit component is more cake like and has a wonderful mix of spices, this is then filled with a soft coarse almond paste. It is supposed to be the height of summer but currently it is pouring down with rain and is sweater worthy cold, so this recipe seemed perfect. Continue reading

Speculoos and Milk Chocolate Macarons

I joined the Mactweets group back in February and have unfortunately not been very good at posting each month (ive been a bit busy) in fact I posted hardly at all. I just managed to make this batch in time for this month deadline but as per normal I dont really have a link to the theme, which this month was favourite films. Im not sure why but I dont actually have just one favourite film. I love movies I just cant think of one when asked? For my macarons I have been trying to come up with my own recipe for the shells so I had another play around and whilst the results looks pretty good they need a little work texture wise, so I wont publish the recipe just yet. For the filling I decided I wanted to use some of the speculoos spread I brought back from Paris. Continue reading

Big News

If you follow me on twitter (@TheBoyWhoBakes) then you have already heard the big news but if not then here goes, I am one of the ten contestants on a new BBC2 baking show (like masterchef meets hairy bikers) called The Great British Bake Off!! The show is presented by the wonderful Sue and Mel and jusdged by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. It starts next tuesday, the 17th and I am so excited to see it, I really hope you enjoy it. Obviously I cant talk about it anymore than this so you will just have to watch it to see how I did.

If you havent been glued to BBC2 waiting to catch a glimpse of the advert (just me?) then you can catch it here until it airs next week, you can see me at the end.

The Great British Bake Off BBC2 8pm starting 17th August

Underground Afternoon Tearoom

This past saturday I spent a wonderful afternoon with 11 strangers at the Underground Afternoon Tearoom in Leeds. I was joined by my friend Ruth, of and we had an absolutely great, and filling, afternoon. Once we finally managed to arrive, having accidentally  getting the wrong train, we were very warmly welcomed by our host and the other guests. I had never been to an underground restaurant or supperclub before but the idea has always appealed so I jumped at the chance of attending this one when the host contacted me. Continue reading

Carrot Cake Cookies

Have you ever had an idea you were really happy with only to find out it wasn’t unique or original like you thought it was. I was travelling to work and as normal my mind wasn’t on the day ahead instead it was where it normally is, back in the kitchen thinking up ideas. In fact most of the ideas I have come at odd moments, often just before I go to bed or at the gym, but more often than not they come whilst I’m bored at work. Unfortunately I wont have that time to dream up recipes I want to play with or techniques I want to try because as of last Friday I joined the ranks of the unemployed. I handed in my notice and left. Do I have something new and exciting lined up I hear you ask? No. So yes, maybe not the smartest thing taking a risk like this in this climate but I have decided it was time for some changes and to just make the leap. I’m taking a little time to do some thinking and planning about the future and am really excited to see what’s next (and on that note if anyone knows a pastry chef or baker that might be looking to take on a trainee drop me a line). Continue reading