Archive | September, 2016

Baking along with the bake off: baking with batter

19 Sep

So this week’s Bake Off was all about batter. I was brought up on Yorkshire puddings, with my grandma’s pudding recipe being legendary in my family.

Sadly though I share Jane’s pain – it’s been an embarrassment of mine for years that I can’t make them, despite my dad’s best efforts.

Until now.

I decided to forget about my inability to make them and to instead treat the recipe like I would a cake. 

I thought I’d also try two sizes of cake tin too just to be on the safe side.

And it worked! Woo hoo!

Ok so they’re slightly over baked and some are a little flat (not enough batter I think) but I’m pretty proud of myself. 


Seriously though…

I ate four!!

I’m looking forward to pastry week and seeing what they all come up with. It’ll be another hard task for me too as pastry isn’t a strength of mine…


The secret lives of bakers

18 Sep

Can you keep a secret?

For the last year I’ve been running a secret group for bakers, a branch of the Clandestine Cake Club.

As you may already be aware, I’ve been a member of the Clandestine Cake Club for a while and so I joined both the Newcastle branch and the Gosforth and Jesmond branch, my local group, as soon as I moved up to the toon.

Sadly the Gosforth and Jesmond leader had to step down before I could attend a meeting, with no-one stepping up to take it over. I had two choices: watch the group fold before I’d had chance to enjoy the cakes my neighbours had to offer or step up myself. It was a no brainer really!

That was April last year and we’ve been meeting pretty much every month since. In that time we’ve grown from a group of four or five into a core of around 10 and every one of my members is lovely!

Our last meeting was by far the best one yet, courtesy of a little cheeky email to Jesmond Dene House.

I never thought for one second they’d even reply when I fired off the email on a particularly brave night. So to say I was surprised when I not only received a response but that they’d be more than willing to host us would be a huge understatement!

They couldn’t have been kinder and we loved every minute of our two hours there.

Here are just some of the delicious cakes we enjoyed:

What made the March meeting even more exciting was the fact that I also got the chance to team up with Jesmond-based business Le Mini Macaron.

As a local business, who I knew made delicious macarons having tested them at both the Sunday Quayside market and a few local food fairs, I had initially approached them to see if they’d be interested in hosting a meeting.

They’d had to turn me down as they operate from home but were willing to help in another way, and agreed to make me some mini macarons for the top of my cake.

They were gorgeous!

Putting a dampener on baking with the Bake Off

17 Sep

I’m a bit late this week with my blog post but wow what a struggle I had with bread week!

I had been excited all week to try out Tom’s chocolate orange bread and happily collected all the ingredients at the supermarket ready to give it a go. Sadly I hadn’t read the recipe though and for the life of me couldn’t figure out how to crush cardamom pod seeds without a pestle and mortar! (Any suggestions welcome!)

I really didn’t fancy making the technical challenge but by this point it was too late to buy more ingredients and I had everything I needed for dampfnudel so the decision was made.

The fact that I haven’t changed my pans for about a decade and only have one with a lid(!) meant the odds were stacked against me for this one. Still, it was worth a try.

Making the dough was surprisingly easy 

Cooking the things, however, was a different story. They managed to swell up quite well:
But I made the same error as the bakers and my pan was the unfortunate victim 

Still, they tasted pretty nice. Having made a ridiculous amount of jam recently (blog post coming soon), I couldn’t be bothered making the sauce to go with the dampfnudel and instead opted for my apple and blackberry jam and some thick double cream. Yum!

I won’t be baking these again but they have made me less terrified of bread. I think I might try a loaf soon…

I know it’s a week old now but I loved the bread week episode, especially as we finally got a glimpse of Val’s kitchen dancing (something I’m partial to myself). I cheered when she won the technical, I’m definitely team Val! She’s as mad as a box of frogs but I love her!

I also LOVED Mary’s phrase, it’s not a mess, it’s informal. I’ll be using that forever more for my baking!

I was sad to see Michael go but sadly I think it was the right decision.

Now I can’t go without talking about the news of the week – channel 4 gate! What do you make of it? Bad decision from Love Productions in my opinion but good on Mel and Sue! 

Baking with the Bake Off: giving biscuits a whirl

7 Sep

Second week of the Great British Bake Off was biscuit week, and oh what fun they had.

How amazing was Candice’s pub with the sticky ginger floor? And Andrew’s biscuits looked lovely!

Val had a lucky escape but I’m glad she’s still around for another week.

For my baking along with the bake off challenge, it had to be Mary’s Viennese whirls.

Biscuits are definitely not my forte and this week was no exception. I made the same story as the Bake Off bakers and forgot to put the mixture in the fridge, meaning they lost their whirl. I also piped then far too big and close together so they were giant and stuck together!

Still, with homemade jam (more to come on that later this week) and some buttercream, they didn’t taste half bad. 

Dreading week three, where I’ll be making bread for the first time. Let’s hope the bakers have tried more than I have!