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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

Harvest at Jimmys 9th-12th September

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

My Week at Le Manoir

Well what a week this has been, and rather apt too it being National Baking Week and all. I spent the week at Le Manoir, Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin starred restaurant in Oxfordshire, baking in the pastry kitchen. The first thing you should know about the restaurant is that it is beautiful, probably the most attractive setting for a restaurant I have seen in this country. It is set in a beautiful building surround by large perfectly managed gardens, including a large vegetable garden. I have to admit that the first day or so were fairly nervous for me. This was the first professional kitchen I have ever worked in and I guess I just felt a little out of place. This was also whilst I was working in the service side of the kitchen. The pastry kitchen doesn’t just serve the restaurant it also makes things for the hotels breakfast and afternoon tea as well as all the bread for the whole operation. The service side of the pastry kitchen deals with the restaurants desserts and because there is a very fast turnaround it gets very busy during service and a little stressed meaning I sometimes felt a little lost with everyone running around me.

I started the week making ice cream and sorbet bases including a wonderful pear and anise sorbet. Because a lot of this kitchen is prep work before service I peeled a lot of apples and segmented loads of grapefruit, which according to Monsieur Blanc I wasn’t doing as perfectly as I should have been. He actually seems like a very nice guy and came across very well the two times I met him. The second section I worked in is called the tour kitchen and is responsible for all the breads, cakes, and afternoon tea. I loved working this section, I got to make so any different things from start to finish including large batches of their famous lemon cake, huge batches of bread, masses of petit four and many many other things. I was so impressed with the output of the kitchen. The desserts look completely stunning and everything I tried was great. The breads were also amazing, I especially loved the sourdough. The chefs were all very welcoming and gracious with there knowledge and helped make the experience as inspiring as it was. I came away tired (12 hour shifts starting at 5.30 will do that to you) but with loads of ideas.

Great Brownie Bake Off

I swear I’ll post a recipe soon, I was going to post one today but i’ve temporarily lost the recipe! In a weeks time I will taking part in The Great Brownie Bake Off, a competition to find Britain’s best brownie recipe from the country’s home bakers. Thankfully im not a contestant, I think my days of competitive baking are behind me. No I will be doing a baking demonstration as will Stacie Stewart from Masterchef, Fred Ponnavoy the Head Chef at GU Chocolate Puds, Caroline Aherne of Sugergrain Bakery and Sasha Jenner from Hobbs House Bakery. It really should be a great day, the brownies are being judged by a great panel including my favourite chocolatier Paul A Young. So if your in the area pop in along and say hi, and try some goodies. It only costs £1.70 entry and that includes loads of samples and the demonstrations, a total bargain and its to benefit charity. I will be making banana and chocolate whoopie pies and this is a sneak peak (these were chocolate and peanut butter but they are almost the same)

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

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

Meet the French

Aside from eating the stuff where does a guy obsessed with baking, with a special place in his stomach for macarons and chocolate, go to feed his habit in Paris. If that describes you in any small way then I know the perfect place to visit, the kitchens of Gerard Mulot. “Meet the French” is a pretty standard tour group although their specialty appears to be food, but it isn’t their standard tours that interested me it was their unique behind the scenes visits to some pretty interesting places. From the boulangerie Au Grand Richelieu to Fabien Nobile a mens fashion designer. Amongst the varied choices one stood out and that was obviously the pastry and chocolate kitchens at Gerard Mulot. Continue reading