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 8

Five bakers left, does this mean we only have three episodes to go?

I am multi-tasking on this post: watching the Bake Off, whilst blogging and getting some wedding photos ready to go on Facebook… So, crisp bakes. Yum! I’m liking the sound of Danny’s Moroccan crisp bakes. But oh dear, Kathryn doesn’t have a good start to the week, they look very dark.

Oooh, tea cakes, lovely. But in that heat, not great baking weather… That heat must be punishing! And I do wonder if Kathryn’s decision not to chill is going to be an issue… And it was…

Up next, gingerbread ‘structures’. DON’T make a house as Paul will smash it! Some of these structures look very impressive… on paper… Let’s see what happens when they need to be constructed!

Interesting to hear about the history of gingerbread. In Holland, you get speculaas, which is very similar. Actually, now it’s autumn I will just have to make some. I have little molds as well to make the biscuits.

Well, back to the structures, Brendan’s looked amazing! So neat! And well done James for star baker! Go James! I do like James.

Oh, poor Kathryn. I guess we saw this one coming.

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…

First photo of the cake

Wedding cake

Wedding cake

Thanks to my friend E, here’s a first glimpse of the wedding cake. It’s not perfect, but it was delicious. People went back for seconds, thirds and sometimes even fourths. More photos to follow later when I have my brain back again after a wonderful, yet tiring, weekend.


And it’s done!

Wedding cake!

Wedding cake – detail

After a few days of hard graft, my wedding cake is done. Although I won’t breathe a sigh of relief until it’s in a box and at the venue tomorrow and it has survived the, albeit short, car trip.

I won’t reveal the whole cake yet, as that’s reserved for the wedding day itself, but I thought a little teaser detail would be nice.

MrFoxyBakes has given his approval and so have my folks, who are here at the moment.

It’s not perfect, but I made it and I’m happy with it.

I’m signing off now for a week or so, to get hitched and go to Paris.

No Bake Off post this week…

Sorry people, no Bake Off post this week. I have been busy finishing kilt socks for MrFoxyBakes that have been in the making for over four years… I promised him they’d be done for the wedding, and there’s nothing like a deadline…

I did watch the Bake Off, the pastry looked quite disastrous in most cases…

Next week’s Bake Off post will be later in the week as I will be in Paris then.

On the upside, expect a wedding cake post tomorrow…

Paris musings

Patisserie des Reves

Patisserie des Reves

A week today, I will just have arrived in Paris. MrFoxyBakes and I are spending a few days there after the wedding for a mini-moon. Our honeymoon isn’t until January, but we wanted to go away for a few days after the wedding as the thought of going straight back to work just didn’t sit right!

So, off to Paris we go. We will see some sights, but the main purpose of the trip is to eat, drink and be merry. I expect bread, wine, cheese and steak will feature heavily. But I’m mostly looking forward to the pastries and chocolate.

I have been devouring Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris and now I have a problem: which places to visit for baked goods? Pierre Hermé is a given, La Patisserie des Reves as well. For balance I will have to go to Ladurée as well. I have three days. I don’t know I can fit it all in.

I am so excited by the prospect of all the food and amazing wine, I can hardly wait!



Tomorrow, the big bake commences: I will start making my wedding cake. Well, I have kind of already started. The last few days I have spent some making hydrangea petals with Beau Sugarpaste. The first batch I did, took ages to dry, I thought it was going to not set for, like, forever! It dried in the end though and subsequent batches have been much better and all petals are now so hard, that if they fall, they will shatter. As it’s supposed to.

So, tonight, the butter for the cakes will come out of the fridge and I will be disciplined and set the alarm for 8am, so I can get started. I have appointments in the afternoon, so that will give me 7 hours to bake 3 cakes, which should be enough. And make ganache to use on Sunday. After I purchased Planet Cake, an Australian baking book, I feel very confident about ganaching. The Aussies seem to prefer ganache to fondant, which I suppose with the humidity and heat makes sense. Any excuse for a new cake decorating book though…

So, tomorrow it starts. I’m hoping I will stay calm, I have a tendency to stress out when things don’t go my way in the kitchen. But, the recipes are tried and tested, I have practised icing and all that jazz, so it should all be ok, right?

I’ll post pics of progress here, but I will keep the reveal of the cake until after the wedding. Which is a week tomorrow. Oh my…