The Bake Off – my thoughts

So, it’s been a week since the Bake Off final and John won it! I really did not have him down as a potential winner, but he came up trumps when it mattered and I’m very pleased he won. I really hope he gets to go to Paris and become a patissier extraordinaire! He deserves it.

I think James will be just fine. He will set up some crazy bakery and write tons of books and will probably get a TV deal at some point. I like his attitude to baking, I really wish I was as unflappable as him!

As for Brendan… well… His baking was of a really high standard, but as a homebaker I just couldn’t relate to his bakes. He was also way too traditional for my liking, and he hardly experimented with flavours. He never seemed to push himself, whereas the others did.

I am sad it’s done for another year. But I celebrated by doing some baking this evening for my first ever Clandestine Cake Club meeting tomorrow! It’s a Dutch Spiced Apple Cake. I’ve made it before for MrFoxyBakes’ birthday treat at work, but never tasted it. That shall be rectified tomorrow!


The Great British Bake Off – semi final!!!

It’s semi-final time people! How very exciting! We have left: Brendan, Danny, James and John. And it’s French week and there’s a shot of a snail. Yuk. That’s for the snail, not French week as I love French baked good. Which reminds me, I still need to blog about Paris. I will do that this week. I also need to blog about the spiced apple cake I made for MrFoxyBakes’ birthday at the weekend.

Let’s see what our bakers come up with in the signature challenge: petit-fours. Delicate! Ooooh, macarons. Dangerous… And chilli sugar… James… Really? If that works, hats off to you, my friend. And I will want your recipe. I am still on my journey to find the perfect macaron, as well documented on this blog, so my sympathies to the bakers. MrFoxyBakes has said he’ll be able to make perfect macarons, by applying his chemistry skills and common sense. I may put him to the test and blog about it…

Anyway, back to the bake off. Quite conservative flavours, apart from James with his chilli sugar! Well, Brendan’s swans look very dainty. And James! Water with your chocolate… Eeep, you brave man! And wow, you pulled it off, you clever man. And this is why I like James to win, he tries out new techniques and flavours, Brendan is just too much in his comfort zone for my liking. And I think it will be between these two for the final.

Danny’s macarons look amazing, that purple, beautiful! And an interesting combination of flavours, blueberry and peppermint. Interesting!

Technical challenge, blimmin‘ heck. ‘Make a génoise sponge’. Now, that’s bare as James said. I have yet to make a génoise sponge, I have some good recipes in my Leith’s Baking Bible, so I will have to give this a go at some point. And why why why do they need to use marzipan? Otherwise this fraisier sounds amazing… I wonder if fondant would do the job… Oh no, poor Danny, her creme patissiere hasn’t set properly. And nor has Brendans, so he’s not perfect after all.

And we have three gateaux St Honoré. I never had one, but I am planning on making one for a special occasion, maybe for Christmas. And James is making a Paris-Brest, another cake I have yet to tackle. I do worry a bit about him not really planning his bakes though.

I do feel sorry for John, it’s not his week, but I’m loving the sound and look of James’ slightly improvised attempt at a bike… But even though John worries, his bakes have worked out well this week.

Well, my vote is James for star baker. I think John will go home.

Yay James! Star baker!

Who is going home?

It’s Danny… Wow, did not expect that really.

The Great British Bake Off – week 7

It’s week 7, with 7 bakers left. And it’s sweet doughs this week. Signature challenge is buns, most bakers seem to fancy the Chelsea bun, or a variety thereof. Now, I’d never been a fan of Chelsea buns, there’s something about the raisins that I just don’t like. Until I went to Fitzbillies in Cambridge earlier this year and had the best Chelsea buns, they were delicious!

This episode is going to be pun-tastic, right? Sue’s already had some terrible ones… But seeing all these buns being made, I want some buns. I’m personally quite partial to a nice cinnamon bun. I wonder if our friends we’ll be going to see this weekend would care for some homemade buns…

Cathryn’s buns look lovely, but did Danny put a glacé cherry on top of her gorgeous Bakewell-type buns? Or is it a normal cherry? If it’s a glacé one, then no no no no no, awful…

So, doughnuts originate in Holland. I did not know that and Mel’s pronunciation of the Dutch word was so bad, I don’t think I could tell what it was. After looking on Wikipedia, I learned that they meant ‘oliekoek‘ or ‘oliebol‘, the latter is a tasty and traditional sweet snack you eat on New Year’s Eve with masses of powdered sugar! I have made many an oliebol in my time, with varied success. It’s so difficult to get them right as you run the risk of them being really greasy or too doughy and undercooked.

Some of these doughnuts are absolutely huge! And I think Sarah-Jane is in trouble…

On to the showstopper. Loaves! Oooooh, I love making enriched dough loaves. Every year, without fail, I make stollen. And that’s probably what I would’ve made if it was me in the kitchen. I have an amazing recipe for a non-marzipan stollen. I love the soft marzipan, but MrFoxybakes hates it. I found a recipe which uses apricots and nuts and then the dough gets mixed with white chocolate, apricots, raisins, currants and nuts. It’s amazing. And Sarah-Janes loaf sounds amazing too; cherry, chocolate and marzipan. Yum! And Brendan, yet again, is King of 70s retro baking.

And two people will be leaving. I wonder who… I think Brendan will win the whole thing, as he’s been baking so well and so consistently. I think Ryan and Sarah-Jane will go. But then again, maybe John.

Yay, for Danny as star baker, makes a change. And I was right, Sarah-Jane and Ryan. Damn, I had Sarah-Jane down as a finalist in the first few weeks, but she’s not been baking great these past weeks.


The Great British Bake Off – Week 6

Hello! I am back from Paris, it was great. Lots of food was had, and I will blog about it in the next few weeks.

So, it’s Bake Off catch-up time, as I missed it on Tuesday. I did some baking myself this afternoon and I have triple chocolate brownies in the oven as I type. I shall have some later with hot chocolate, it’s that kind of weather… Brrrr…

It’s pudding week. Now I th0ught pudding week was two weeks ago. Ach well. See, I’m not a massive fan of steamed sponges. Oh, chocolate fondants count as a sponge. Well, I like those. Very brave to attempt these, as for those of you who watch Masterchef might recall Jay Raynor say something along the lines of ‘the path to Masterchef glory is littered with the bodies of failed chocolate fondants’. Or something. Let’s hope they turn out better for Ryan, as his lime pie looked amazing last week. I also like the sound of the elderflower sponges… Maybe I should rethink my stance on steamed puddings… And poor Danny, not having a good start to the week.

Sarah-Jane has been struggling. I had her down as a finalist at the start of the series, but not so sure now. Although I think his baking is a bit too old-fashioned, I think Brendan is doing rather well.

Queen of Puddings… now, call me crazy, but I’m not a fan of jam combined with custard, never have. As a result, the only trifle I like is one with lemon curd. I do like meringue though. I’ll just have the meringue…

Mmm… strudel. Now, I like apple strudel. With lashings of custard. Years ago I used to make one quite regularly. But not with the strudel pastry. I like James’ idea of a rhubarb and strawberry filling. Yum. Oh dear, blooooooooooood. Poor John… But lots of strudels are bleeding as well.

I wonder who will go, it’s not been a great week for most. And Brendan as star baker yet again… Oh, no-one’s going. Hurrah! But two going on Tuesday, interesting…

The Great British Bake Off – week 4

Puddings it is, this week. I am taking a break from making what feels like a gazillion hydrangea petals. I have burgundy fingers as I type from the sugar paste.

Very interesting week, this week. Puddings, my favourite bit of a meal. Is it just me who always looks at the pudding menu first when eating out?

I see Stuart is a good man and made his own wedding cake. He’s growing on me! I’ve never really attempted tortes, although I think after this week’s Bake Off that will probably change! I have to say I’m always intrigued by tea-flavoured sponges. Does it really work I wonder…

I like John’s idea of checking how a sponge is done, when it stops singing. I think I’ll stick to the good old trusty method of the skewer.

Whenever I watch the Bake Off, I take comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one freaking out when baking. Just ask MrFoxyBakes, he’ll tell you things can get um… tense… at times when I’m baking.

Some of these tortes look seriously impressive! I love the 70s throwbacks Brendan comes up with every single week. I have to say I might have to give Danny’s torte a go with the elderflower and white chocolate. I wonder if the recipe will become available on the Bake Off website…

Oooh, crème caramel. I am very good at eating crème  caramel. Now, are they not allowed thermometers to make sure the caramel doesn’t burn? And ‘make the custard’? I would struggle without a recipe, and I’ve made custard many times before. It looks like some of the bakers are struggling as well! Oh my word, Kathryn, don’t break the crockery!

Well, I think it’s fair to say there’s crème caramel in all kinds of colours and, above all, consistencies! Well done, Brendan!

Meringue, something I love!. So much so, we’re having meringues and fruit as our dessert at our wedding breakfast next week. Sarah-Jane, again, that looks amazing, a tiramisu meringue. Yum. Also, James’ one looks nice. I see Kathryn like living on the edge and sticking the meringue in last-minute. It needs an hour to cook and two hours to dry, love, get it in!

I wonder who will be up for the chop this week. Stuart hasn’t had a great week so far, nor has John. although his meringue stack looks impressive.

Well, bye bye Stuart…

The Great British Bake Off – Week 3

So yes, no Bake Off post last week. My week got slightly side-tracked by wedding planning stuff and a weekend away to see friends. Also, I don’t know much about bread and was just simply in awe of the 8 plat bread!

Anyway, it’s tart week this week, something I’m looking forward to. This post is written during the show, because otherwise I fear I won’t get round to it this week.

Before we start, some good puns from Sue. I do like the puns…

So, tarte tatins. I don’t think I ever made one. Although I have made rough puff pastry many a time. I usually make it the cheat’s way by using Nigella Lawson’s Processor Rough Puff Pastry, which works well for me. Now, I do think MrFoxyBakes will like the caramelised banana tarte tatin, so I will pay attention to Sarah-Jane’s tarte… But the marzipan layer on the almond and pear tarte tatin just sounds vile to me, but then I’m not a fan of marzipan. And also, did I just see someone whisking the water and sugar as it was heating up? Oh dear, that’s never going to go well…

Well, some nice tarte tartins there, now let’s see if I can hunt down a recipe for the caramelised banana one.

And now on to the technical challenge, mmmm, treacle tart. I have this recipe, I think. Some clever ways of making the lattice, I will have to remember that…

And I’m sorry to say it, but why is Stuart still in there? Didn’t he make the awful tomato upside-down cake in episode 1? He should’ve gone then… But hey, go James, I like him!

Oh, fruit tarts for the showstopper. Let’s see what they come up with!

Oh, James, macarons, you brave brave man! And liking the sound of Sarah-Jane’s tart with cassis jam. Yum! Seeing all these tarts makes me want to have tart. I’m off to Paris in a few weeks, and I may just eat my bodyweight in tarts. And that’s a helluvalot of tarts!

Stuart’s tart looks amazing though… something I would’ve made, probably. Maybe he deserves to be still in after all… He’s just not consistently good.

Now, who will be star baker? My bet is on James. And I think Victoria will go.

And I was right.

So, next week? Oooh, desserts. A nice distraction from what undoubtedly will be a week of making sugar hydrangeas for my wedding cake…

The Great British Bake Off – Week 1

So, tonight was the first week of series 3 of The Great British Bake Off on BBC 2. This is the highlight of my summer and I always find it inspiring. I applied this year, but I soon realised I’d be way way way out of my depth.

Anyway, I took a few things from this week’s challenges:

  1. I really fancy some apple-toffee upside down cake
  2. Tomato cake is just plain wrong
  3. Blue sponge should be forbidden
  4. A cupcake shape within a cake is genius
  5. I hate cream and fruit together
  6. I really must expand my baking repertoire

I don’t have a favourite just yet, but there are some talented bakers in this series. Bring on next week!



The Great British Bake off is back!

It’s the moment I think most home bakers are waiting for: BBC’s Great British Bake Off. And it’s back. It starts tonight. This programme fills my soul with joy and eventhough I am slightly bitter I didn’t get in this year, I am so looking forward watching it.

Apparently, they have more challenges than ever before and I can’t wait! I will try and blog about it every week. It will keep me from being too occupied about my upcoming nuptials next month and the wedding cake I shall be making.

So, tune in tonight, 8pm, BBC Two.