Bake With A Legend Review

Bake With A Legend Review

If you’ve visited my blog before you will know that I am a massive fan of The Great British Bake Off. It is the baking show that inspired me to start both this blog and my journey of delicious baking adventures. So when I heard that there were baking classes being hosted by some of the most talented and well known GBBO stars, well there wasn’t much that was going to stop me from getting involved! The classes are called Bake With A Legend, and at first they started off in London (as most things do unfortunately for us Northerners). Thankfully, because they’ve been so brilliant and successful, they’ve started doing classes in Manchester this year.

I attended two Bake With A Legend classes in Manchester. The first was baking bread with Paul Jagger. Paul was a quarter finalist in series six and is most well known for his lion bread sculpture. Because the classes are in small groups, they feel very intimate. You can chat away to the hosts and asking them questions throughout is welcomed. At the start we all sat down with Paul and we were offered a hot drink. He talked to us about what we would be baking. He was a very warm, friendly and open guy. Paul was full of anecdotes and stories about his time on GBBO. I found it absolutely fascinating to hear what went on behind the scenes!

Then it was time to bake! Paul demonstrated each step first and explained what we needed to do. There were two large work stations at the Food Sorcery location in East Didsbury for us all to use. They provided plenty of baking equipment to go around and the main ingredients were all weighed out and ready. As there were bakers on either side of the worktops it was ideal for chatting with others in the group and helping each other to remember which ingredients to add!

At the bread making class we made grissini (aka breadsticks) flavoured with parmesan and rosemary. Paul brought rosemary from his garden at home for us to use which was a lovely touch. We also made an asian inspired twist on garlic bread which was stuffed with chickpeas, pepper, cumin, chilli and coriander. I have made bread several times in the past, but I’d never made these recipes before. So it was a learning experience for me. Paul made his way around the group whilst we baked to guide us, answer our questions, and most importantly reassure us that we were following the recipe correctly!

The Bake With A Legend staff were also on hand to clean up after us, help us work the fancy ovens, and keep an eye on our bread as it baked. When everything was ready the whole room smelt amazing! We got another chance to sit round the table with Paul at the end of the session. He chatted with us some more, and we got to ask any further questions we had. We were provided with everything we needed to package up our bread and take it home with us. We also got the chance to get a photo with Paul! It was such a fun day and I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

The second class I attended was cake making with Howard Middleton. He featured in series four of GBBO and is probably best known for having his custard accidentally ‘stolen’ by a fellow contestant. He’s also known for his love of gluten free baking and using unusual flours in his bakes. On one week of the show he used hemp flour, which gave Mel & Sue plenty to joke about! Howard has since released a book full of gluten free recipes (I’ve linked to it at the bottom of this post if you are interested).

We were making a recipe from Howard’s book called a Cacaoccino cake. It’s a sponge containing cacao, hazelnuts and coffee, surrounded by hazelnut wafers and filled with whipped cream. Howard was very funny and self deprecating throughout the class. We were all laughing at regular intervals and he made the atmosphere light and comfortable. As in the previous class, Howard demonstrated the steps of the recipe before we went over to the baking stations and had a go ourselves.

I baked in a pair with a lovely lady called Bev who had been bought the class as a Christmas gift from her husband. It was really nice to bake with someone else, to have a chat and bake together. Howard was pottering around the group to help us when we got stuck. So we felt reassured that the cakes would turn out well. He even brought his own stencils from home so we could finish off the cake with either a Bake With A Legend logo, or a coffee cup. I went for the logo and Howard applied the stencil and dusted the cocoa on everyone’s cake for them which was a fantastic personal touch!

Bake With A Legend

At the end of the class we sat down to relax with a glass of prosecco or orange juice. Howard served us a slice of the cake he had made during the demonstration. It was absolutely delicious! And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like coffee! We also got to chat more with Howard and ask him questions. He told us all about his GBBO experience and what he’d been up since the show ended. He also signed copies of his book and happily posed for photos with the group.

I had a brilliant time at the cake making class, and I loved every moment of getting to meet and bake with these two fabulous GBBO stars. Even as an experienced baker, I learnt new things and feel inspired to try out new recipes. I think the Bake With A Legend classes are suitable for bakers of any level of experience as you are guided every step of the way. There’s always have help at hand to steer you in the right direction. The atmosphere of each class is so comfortable and welcoming that you don’t feel like any question is a stupid one. Essentially, if you love baking and you love The Great British Bake Off, you’re going to love Bake With A Legend!

If you want to find out more and see what classes are coming up in your area, visit the Bake With A Legend website.

NB. I attended the classes free of charge, I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Day Out At Barton Arcade

Day Out At Barton Arcade

I’ve recently join a blogger collective in Manchester called We Blog North and they let me know about an opportunity to spend the day at Barton Arcade checking out the different shops, eateries and hairdressers located there and getting the word out about it. I was really excited to get involved as I’d been to Barton Arcade briefly once or twice, but never fully explored it. It’s located in a Victorian Grade II listed building on Deansgate in Manchester city centre. The building has a glass and iron domed ceiling so lots of natural light gets in and it’s a very unique and beautiful place.

I met the other bloggers taking part in the Six and Flow offices, they are a digital marketing agency that organised the day and also a popular meeting spot for the We Blog Mcr events. The other bloggers were Eleanor Graceful, Smile At Style, Holly Goes Lightly and My Big Fit Diary.

We started the day at PKB Coffee where we sampled some of their dishes. They are a cafe serving breakfast lunch and cocktails, and of course great coffee! Their brunch menu offers up choices such a N’Duja Baked Eggs, Coconut Porridge and Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast (pictured). The food was all beautifully presented and tasted divine. Filled with wooden benches and exposed pipes it’s casual dining with a trendy feel.

We then went for a wander around some of the retailers located in Barton Arcade. There is a barbers called Barber Barber, who have caused controversy by only allowing men through the door. All of the barbers were dressed in Hawaiian shirts and some sported very well manicured moustaches. Jeffery West sells men’s shoes, they have everything from smart work and dress shoes to more eccentric and colourful options. Jill Black is a women’s clothing store, great for a rummage through the racks and vintage finds.

Then it was lunch time! We headed to Lunya which is a Catalonion deli, restaurant and bar. I’m a huge tapas fan so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the restaurant was here as I’d never heard of it before. I enjoyed a very tasty lunch of tortilla, patatas bravas with aoili and tomato sauce, and the house salad with soft boiled egg. Everything looked fresh and tasted so good and the portions were very generous.

After lunch it was time to get pampered at Too Funky Hair. The salon is much bigger than it looks from the outside and they have colour specialists and a beauty therapist too. I was taken upstairs for my wash and blow dry. I find getting my hair cut quite stressful, so being able to just go for a blow dry where my hair was only being washed and styled made the experience fun and relaxing for me.

Getting your hair washed at the hairdressers is never usually a comfortable experience what with having to stretch your neck back over the sinks, but the chairs at Too Funky Hair were brilliant and so relaxing to sit in, you can even put your feet up! I had my hair curled by one of their friendly stylists and I absolutely loved the final look!

 

We ended the day at Be At One, a cocktail bar underneath Barton Arcade. Again this was a new discovery for me. It was very stylish and funky inside and offered a wide array of cocktail options, which we all happily sampled! They even do a Kinder Bueno Cocktail – dessert and drinks in one! I had such a great day at Barton Arcade and I’ll certainly be going back for more delicious food and relaxing experiences.

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2016

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2016

It’s been a foodie filled month for me with The Cake & Bake Show a couple of weeks ago and then this weekend I headed to Birmingham for the BBC Good Food Show Winter. This place is foodie paradise with stalls filled with every type of food and drink you can think of, thankfully the show lasts for three days so you are rich with time to explore every inch and every food sample! There’s also lots of celebrity chef demos with the likes of Mary Berry, The Hairy Bikers and Michael Roux Jr. to name a few. I spent a Saturday there with my friend Sophie and this is what we got up to…

We got straight onto the gin when we arrived and Edinburgh Gin is a brand I’m familiar with as I’ve purchased their Raspberry Liquor for my boyfriend before so I wanted Sophie to try their wares as she is a gin lover. She was certainly impressed and left with a bottle of their Christmas Gin.

Next we spotted Seeds of Change‘s stand where they were giving out sample pots of their spinach pasta with tomato and basil sauce, it was really yummy and they gave me some vouchers to get money off my next purchase of their organic food. I also got a couple of packets of basil seeds from them which I am looking forward to growing!

Bahlsen make my favourite biscuits – Choco Leibniz – but I didn’t know about all of the other products they make such as Lebkuchen, the classic German Christmas biscuits which I’m also a huge fan of.

We must’ve walked past the Jazz Apples stand at least three times and couldn’t resist grabbing a slice of juicy crisp apple each time. On our final visit we finally bought some apples!

One of the great things about the BBC Good Food Show is all of the show bargains on offer. For example Wyke Farms were selling 4 different blocks of cheese along with a block of butter, and either the mug or the bag pictured, for only £10! Such a bargain considering one block of cheese is around £3 in the supermarket.

I love sweet potato crisps but I’ve only ever seen salted ones in the shops, so I was excited to see that Glen of Antrim have created mutiple flavours including the irish whiskey and salt & vinegar flavours pictured. They also had cheese & onion and chilli.

I tried some Salted Caramel Vodka from I Heart Vodka and it was deliciously sweet. Certainly one for any fellow sweet tooths out there!

Frobishers had some delicious cordials which they’ve just recently added to their range. I tried the Sloe & Raspberry and the Lemon & Mint and really enjoyed them both. They are available in Waitrose.

We went to watched Mary Berry do a Q&A on the Lakeland Good Food Stage. She was interviewed all about her Christmas food plans and she revealed that she is going to do a TV programme next year where she goes to stately homes around the country to look behind the scenes and meet the families that live there, I can’t wait to watch it!

Mary Berry has a new range of kitchenware which is absolutely gorgeous, I love the pastel colours and grey details. This is definitely going on my Christmas list!

We headed to the Super Theatre to watch Paul Hollywood do a demo of a dessert called kransekage, which is a tower of marzipan rings sandwiched together with chocolate. He was chatty and open with the audience about The Great British Bake Off and his other plans for TV shows next year.

An audience member got up on stage wearing this apron and the camera man wore one too! It was very funny but Paul was not impressed!

This was the final product!

The Renshaw Academy were also on site at the show holding classes to teach you how to work with sugarpaste and maybe even make a masterpiece like this one day!

 

I adore maple syrup and I grabbed two bottles of Pure Maple which is absolutely delicious as well as being completely pure and not mixed with anything else like some other maple syrups are.

We watched Lisa Faulkner, who is an actress that won Celebrity Masterchef in 2010, she made a strawberry milkshake cake and her latest book focuses on family recipes.

We ended the day watching John Whaite, the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2012, demo two recipes from his new book – Perfect Plates In 5 Ingredients. He made a Sweet Potato, Gruyere & Pecan Gratin and a Orange Self Saucing Pudding. Both recipes looked delicious and John really entertained the crowd, everyone was in fits of laughter including myself! We had a great day at The BBC Good Food Show and I’m already looking forward to next year! In the meantime there are the summer shows, check out the BBC Good Food Show website for dates and tickets.

I’m linking this post up with Brilliant Blog Posts hosted by Honest Mum.

The Cake & Bake Show 2016

The Cake & Bake Show 2016

I recently went to The Cake & Bake Show in association with Argos at Event City in Manchester. It’s the show’s second year at Event City, and also it’s second year of extending it’s run from 3 to 4 days. Last year after a change in event organisers, the show was much smaller and I was a bit disappointed with it. I was very glad to see they have upped their game this year! The place was packed with exhibitors, demo stages and gorgeous cake displays.

I attended the show with my friend Beth and we started our day watching Benjamina demo a Pistachio, Lemon and Cardamom cake on the super theatre stage. I was really excited to see her as she is one of my favourite contestants from this year’s Great British Bake Off. I loved how pretty she made all of her bakes look throughout the show and even working quickly on the demo stage she still pulled off a gorgeous bake!

Benjamina also talked about how she’d love to release a book one day – and I hope she does! She told the crowd how her and the other bakers from this year all have a Whatsapp group and they talk to each other almost every day.

And this was the gorgeous cake that she produced, the recipe for a loaf version of this cake is available on the BBC Food website. To jazz it up like she did, double the recipe, bake it in sandwich tins, and decorate with cream cheese frosting, edible flowers and edible glitter.

We went for a wander round the exhibitor stands. I was really impressed with Mr D’s Pie Machine, how awesome is their stand?! It really stood out and had such a unique look.

The Sunday Girl’s gorgeous retro aprons really caught my eye, plus they even do kids versions – so cute!

 

I couldn’t miss the gigantic potato rostis and potato cakes being sold by the Piece of Cake Bakery, I’m regretting not going back to buy some of these amazing treats!

 

These impeccable cupcakes were on offer from Candy’s Cupcakes and I thought they looked gorgeous.

The Gorgeous Ventures taught me what puff puffs are, and my waistline is not going to thank me! They are an African snack made by deep frying balls of cake dough flavoured with ginger or banana and damn are they good!

I adore Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and their stand was selling packs of 2 half pound cups for only £5! Such a bargain considering I saw them on another stall for £13. They are a limited edition for Christmas and would surely make any Reese’s fan very happy on Christmas day!

I bumped into the lovely Benjamina and had to grab a photo! I was so nervous, but she was lovely and so nice. She is a fellow blogger too, check out her blog Carrot & Crumb.

We wandered over into the Ideal Home Show, which is connected to The Cake & Bake Show and you can access it with the same ticket. We grabbed some lunch from La Raclette, above is Beth’s cheese smothered potatoes with gherkins.

Then we grabbed a warm apple strudel drink from this fab red bus bar. It was a mixture of Malibu, apple juice and cinnamon, and it was delicious. Christmas was in full swing at the Ideal Home Show with twinkling Christmas trees dotted all around.

Back at The Cake & Bake Show super theatre we checked out GBBO 2015 winner Nadia as she made za’tar and lemon palmiers, and coconut macarons. She was very chatty and friendly to the crowd and talked a lot about her children. She also admitted to using ready made puff pastry, which I thought was great as it really is such a time saver.

And the famous Nadia facial expressions were in full swing!

I did a bit of shopping and grabbed these cute gingerbread sprinkles, and some pump action glitter spray from The Cake Decorating Company. I discovered this glitter spray at John Whaite’s Kitchen Cookery School recently and I wanted some straight away. I got it in all three colours (gold, silver and red) as it was 3 for £12!

There was a stunning display of Beatrix Potter characters made from sugarcraft to look at. It was made by The Sugar Chronicles to celebrate 150 years since Beatrix Potter was born.

It really brought back memories from my childhood of reading the books. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny was one of my favourite stories.

The characters were all stunningly recreated in sugar craft and the detail was superb, from the eyelashes on the rabbits, to the tiny woodlice and rocks in the grass around them.

I introduced Beth to Sugar & Crumbs amazing flower nozzles that create the stunning designs above so easily. We watched a demonstration and her mind was blown!

I got some fudge from The Kilted Fudge Company last year and I was back for more this year as their fudge is fantastic! Honestly the best fudge I’ve ever tasted.

There was some amazing competition cakes on display that we gazed in awe at. The theme was fairytales and I also saw several mermaid themed cakes.

The detail on these cakes is so beautiful!

And the day ended with watching Rosemary Schrager and sitting behind these fab four – Val, Rav, Benjamina and Louise from The Great British Bake Off. They are holding my friend Beth’s baby in the above photo! I had such a fun day at the show and it was great to see it back on form after last year’s hiccup. I’m looking forward to next year already!

I’m linking this post up with Brilliant Blog Posts hosted by Honest Mum.

10 Foodie Tips for Venice

10 Foodie Tips for Venice
 I’ve recently returned from a short trip to the beautiful and unique city of Venice in Italy. It’s been a dream place of mine to visit for as long as I can remember and I had such an amazing time exploring the city. Of course one of the things I was most excited about was the food! So I wanted to share my foodie tips based on my experience in Venice, and I hope they help you enjoy your trip there too, or even inspire you to visit.

1. Head to a local bakery
Dotted around the city you’re sure to come upon a bakery. Meringues, ‘S’ shaped biscuits, strudels, cakes and macarons line the windows. Head on inside to try the delicious treats. We enjoyed some fresh sugar coated mini donuts with raisins inside that were absolutely scrumptious.

2. Try a Spritz!
You’ll see people drinking this bright orange drink from wine glasses, and it really is the drink of the city. It’s most commonly served with ice and a slice of orange, sometimes you’ll get an olive in it too. The flavour is bitter orange, it reminded me of the cocktail Negroni.

3. Gelato comes in lots of flavours
So try as many as you can! Trust me – it’s worth it. We got a different flavour every time we visited a gelato counter and in 3 days we managed 12 flavours! The scoop size is fairly modest and you’re on holiday so why not! I also saw vegan friendly gelatarias if you don’t eat dairy.

4. Take your time
Meals tend to be eaten later in Venice, for example breakfast in our hotel was served 8 – 12. So take it easy and enjoy a leisurely meal as the Italian tradition is to take your time and really enjoy your food.

5. Eat Seafood
If you eat seafood like I do, then take advantage of how fresh and plentiful the seafood options are in Venice. Every menu I saw was packed with options from the more well known like calamari and lobster, to the more exotic like octopus and squid ink pasta.

6. Avoid the restaurants in Piazza San Marco
During my research for this trip I constantly came across warnings about the restaurants and cafes directly in and around Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square). I’ve read stories about being charged for sitting down, and a bill for €100 for 4 coffees! I’ve not experienced anything like this myself, but personally I’d rather not take the risk.

7. Grab a slice…
Of pizza! There are so many toppings to choose from and the slices are reasonably prized and generously sized. It’d be rude not to! We shared a delicious slice of spinach and ricotta pizza for €2.50.

8. Cicchetti
Also known as tapas, this is the Italian version of small bites of food and it’s worth checking out for authentic Venetian flavours. They are also great value for money! We didn’t get a chance to try any as the restaurant we were recommended was so busy people were stood outside on the street eating (a good sign I know, but we wanted to sit down after walking all day), so it’s high on my list for next time.

9. Take it home
The pasta section the supermarket near our hotel was the biggest pasta section I’ve ever seen, and also the most diverse. We grabbed the pasta haul above to take home with us, which includes red wine flavoured pasta and rainbow coloured pasta. I also saw lemon flavour, and orange and paprika flavour pasta. I wish I had a bigger suitcase!

10. Enjoy a drink
Drinking alcohol in Venice is a relatively low cost pursuit, so it was nice to treat ourselves for a few days whilst we were on holiday. I enjoyed a glass of prosecco with a meal for only €2.50 and we found 3 bottles of beer in the supermarket for under €2! When eating cicchetti (see tip 8) you can also often get a deal where a glass of wine is included in the meal price.

And one final bonus tip…
If you go to Venice I highly recommend the hotel we stayed in, Ca Maria Adele, it really was very beautiful and the service was excellent!

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2015

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2015
At the end of November I was given some tickets for the BBC Good Food Show by the lovely people at ao.com, I jumped at the chance to visit the show again as I went lasted year and enjoyed wondering around checking out all the different products and of course sampling as much free cheese as possible!

I couldn’t help but be drawn in by this chocolate fountain when we first arrived, doesn’t that liquid layer of chocolate cascading down look so perfectly shiny and delectable? How could you resist indulging!

I passed by Mash Direct‘s stand and with a boyfriend who is not only vegetarian but also one of the biggest mash potato fans I’ve ever met, I couldn’t not stop and purchase some of their products. I bought some champ, potato cakes and vegetable burgers. I prefer to support independent family run companies like this and it’s a bonus to know that all of their food is free from anything artificial, and that it’s cooked and packaged on the same farm it’s grown on.

I was intrigued to try Yorkshire Drizzle‘s products as I am a big fan of dipping bread into oil and vinegar. They had a delicious rosemary oil and cherry balsamic vinegar that I particularly enjoyed sampling.

Hilltop Honey are a brand that I have recently become a big fan of. Ever since my WI bee themed meeting (where I made Honey & Orange Cupcakes) I’ve become more aware of how honey is made and what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak. All of Hilltop’s Honey is raw, and it either comes from British bees, or organic European ones. I got the cinnamon infused honey which is amazing! I’ve been enjoying it every morning with my yoghurt.

I’m not a tea drinker myself but I can recognise a tea brand that are going to be a hit! Bluebird Tea make some delicious sounding flavours such as Christmas Cake, Gingerbread Chai and Strawberry Lemonade. They are an independent company and their tea is hand blended in the UK.

So most of my day involved eating cheese samples, which was pretty amazing. I actually ended up buying some cheese from Snowdonia Cheese, but I also had to feature these super cute heart shaped cheeses from Godminster – how adorable! Godminster also make vodka and their cheese is organic.

For lunch we grabbed a sausage butty from Heck. The company is a family business who focus on quality. That is certainly evidenced from their delicious products, and also the giant queue outside their food truck!

I watched Nancy Birtwhistle – the winner of The Great British Bake Off series five – make a Sage & Onion Tart. It looked absolutely delicious! I might try it myself as it’s a very simple and cheap recipe to make. EDIT: Sadly I can’t find her recipe online anymore, but I made a Brie, Leek & Onion Quiche that was inspired by her recipe!

Nancy was fantastic on stage and chatted away comfortably. She also concentrated on passing on her baking tips and tricks, such as using her food processor to make pastry and to roll the pastry out between two cut open freezer bags as they don’t wrinkle up like cling film.

After I watched Nancy I ran into Bake Off series five finalist Richard Burr. I was so excited to meet another Bake Off contestant! I then watched him be interviewed, he talked about his new book and about how he made a cake for a gorilla!

I couldn’t resist some of Joe Delucci‘s gelato. I had a scoop of coconut and a scoop of cookies and cream. They were so creamy and honestly some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted!

I absolutely love Baileys and they had a stand to promote their new cocktail recipe – the flat white martini. It’s a mix of espresso, baileys and vodka. It felt like a sophisticated drink and had a real kick to it!

My last stop of the day was Joe & Seph’s, who make gourmet popcorn. I got the Christmas flavour of mince pie, which is so moreish. All their popcorn is air popped which gives it a lighter flavour. I had such a fun day at the Good Food Show! I came home with a bag full of quality products that I am so excited to start eating my way through. You can see my vlog of the day below.

 

The Cake & Bake Show 2015

The Cake & Bake Show 2015
Last weekend I went to The Cake & Bake Show in association with Neff at Event City in Manchester. The show has been running in Manchester now for 3 years and it spent it’s first two years at Manchester Central. As well as moving to a different venue, it’s also extended it’s run time from 3 days to 4 days. I attended on both the Friday and Saturday, here’s what I got up to…

Christmas and pink were big themes! The carpet of the venue was a bright pink, there was bunting hung all over the place and Christmas trees everywhere. It definitely felt fun and festive. Neff also had a stand featuring their well known ‘hide and slide’ ovens as featured on The Great British Bake Off. If you’re interested in learning more about Neff ovens, you can visit the Neff shop at ao.com.

One of the first things I noticed when I walked into The Cake & Bake Show was this giant chair photo opportunity, of course I got straight in there! Now where can I get one of these for my living room…?

Next I headed straight to The Great British Bake Off theatre where I spent a lot of my time at the show. Beside the theatre was a stand selling all the Bake Off merchandise. I’ve not used any of the merchandise myself, but the pretty pastel colours and retro feel makes it look very attractive.

Sugar & Crumbs make flavoured icing sugar which is seriously yummy. I couldn’t believe how much the apple crumble flavour actually tasted like apple crumble! I don’t know how they do it. They’ve also started selling piping nozzles that make some pretty impressive flowers with buttercream.

The Big Bakes Bakery had giant versions of popular bakes on sale such as cookies, gingerbread men and jammy dodgers. I shared a jammy dodger with my friend Sophie and she also purchased one of the giant gingerbread men. I love the idea of over sized bakes!

I didn’t buy much at The Cake & Bake Show, but I had to grab this amazing bargain of 1 litre of Nielsen Massey Vanilla Extract for only £22! That was a show only deal, but you can still get it for £25 from the One Stop Cookery website.

The other thing I bought at The Cake & Bake Show was some delicious fudge from The Kilted Fudge Company. Their fudge is so flavoursome and creamy!

I watched Chetna Makan from series 5 of The Great British Bake Off make a Cardamom & Coffee Swiss Roll, which looked so pretty. She is well known for fusing Indian flavours with traditional baking. She talked about how the bakers from her series like to get together every few months and each of them bring a dish along. Chetna has a YouTube channel now where she releases a new recipe every week. She is also bringing out a book in April next year called The Cardamom Trail, but she explains that not all the recipes feature cardamom!

John Whaite made some Fig, Walnut & Gruyere Bagels which also had Marmite in the dough. He has such a fantastic stage presence and was chatting away to the crowd and making jokes the whole way through. John talked about how food is a projection of who you are, and so it can feel really personal when people don’t like your food – which I really relate to! He has a cookery school called John Whaite’s Kitchen and also a new book out soon called Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients.

Then it was time for this year’s Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya to take the stage! She made her Peanut Salted Caramel Tart that earned her a Paul Hollywood handshake. Nadiya talked about her time on the Bake Off. She hated doing the technical challenges, her favourite creation was the chocolate peacock, and her final showstopper bake of a wedding cake was her hardest challenge. She is writing a weekly column for The Times at the moment, but would love to do a book.

One of my favourite bakers from this year’s Bake Off, Tamal Ray, hit the stage to make his Apple, Pistachio & Rose Madeira Cake. Tamal revealed that he applied for the show in series 3, he got quite far but didn’t make the final cut, and was encouraged to apply again. The final showstopper was Tamal’s favourite bake during his time on The Great British Bake Off, and since being on the show Tamal has made two more wedding cakes. He also confirmed the answer to a questions he gets asked a lot – that he gets his syringes for injecting cakes off ebay and not from the hospital where he works!

Luis Troyano was up next and he made some absolutely delicious looking Spanish Empanadas filled with beef, chorizo and vegetables. He also added paprika to the dough and cooked them in the deep fryer. Luis has a book called Bake It Great which features recipes with a Spanish influence. He recommended shopping in Indian supermarkets for spices and exotic flavours as they are much more reasonably priced. He also said that he thinks if you can bake a great Bakewell Tart, you can bake anything, as the tart combines a great range of baking skills.

Sandy Docherty was so entertaining to watch, she is such a great character. She made Parmesan biscuits with a cream cheese filling. I couldn’t believe that she was only in four episodes of The Great British Bake Off, it feels like she was in the show for longer! She did her creme brulee ‘wobble’ dance and also judged some bakes from a young boy in the audience who had brought in some profiteroles filled with creme patisserie – what a talent!

I was lucky enough to meet Mat Riley before he appeared on stage to make his refined sugar free carrot cake. He sweetened the cake with dates and a fruit syrup. I was surprised to hear that Mat only got into baking two years ago when he had some time off work and started going through his wife’s recipe books and making things. He now has a YouTube channel where he makes something new every week, it’s called Mat Riley Bakes.

There were some competition cakes on display for visitors to look at. My favourite was the Jungle Book cake above – such stunning detail!

There were also cakes made by professionals on display, which were jaw droppingly amazing. There is so much time and detail that goes into these beautiful cakes.

The Ideal Home Show was also on in the same venue and it had an amazing winter wonderland area full of Christmas trees. It made me feel so happy and festive!

I had such a great time at The Cake & Bake Show, and I got to meet Lisa Faulkner too! I was a bit disappointed that the show was smaller this year. As it had moved to a bigger venue and had two successful years in Manchester already, I was expecting a bigger show. I know that the show has been taken on by a new events company, so I hope that they give it more attention next year. The Great British Bake Off stage was certainly the highlight for me, and although there were some great exhibitors, I would’ve loved to see more. It was also great that you could access the Ideal Home Show for no extra charge.

You can watch my vlogs of the day below. And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

NB. I received a press pass for the show, all opinions are my own.

Baking Class at Wilmslow Cookery School

Baking Class at Wilmslow Cookery School
Last weekend I was invited to Wilmslow Cookery School by Joe’s Bloggers in partnership with Curry’s and Kenwood, to experience the school’s Introduction to Baking class. I consider myself to be a fairly experienced baker, but that wasn’t going to stop me enjoying a few hours of baking fun!

We got to use Kenwood kMix Stand Mixers for our baking, which was exciting for me as I’ve never used one before. I have a mixer at home, and although it does the job, it’s not quite the same caliber as Kenwood’s mixers. As well as coming in a variety of pretty colours, they have a powerful 500W motor and a 5 litre bowl, and now you can also get a glass bowl, so you can see the food much better as it mixes. Plus they look pretty swish!

I teamed up with Kristina from Mode of Style and we called ourselves Team K – for Kat, Kristina and Kenwood of course!

We started by making some mini meringues. Sarah, the instructor showed us how to complete each step before we went back to our stations and gave it a go ourselves.

An unusual technique that I had not heard of before was to warm up the sugar in the oven at 65C before adding it to the whipped egg whites. This works in a similar way to making Italian meringue in that it cooks the egg white so your meringue will be a lot more stable and also not raw before baking. Perfect for piping directly onto a cake or tart and then blow torching, or if you want to sneak some of the mixture!

After applying some food colouring to the inside of our piping bag, we filled it with the meringue and did our best to pipe out some pretty shapes! They went into the oven for an hour to bake.

Meanwhile we moved onto the next bake, the chocolate tart. We made a chocolate pastry using the Kenwood stand mixer and then brought it together with our hands.

Kristina rolled out the mixture between two layers of cling film. I love this technique for rolling out pastry as it means you don’t have to add any extra flour to the dough, plus it keeps your work surface clean!

After lining the tin as neatly as we could, the pastry then went into the fridge to chill.

Next we moved onto our third and final bake, a Swiss Roll. The instructor had a glass bowl on her Kenwood stand mixer and it looked awesome! It was so cool watching the mixture rise and rise. I want!

We followed suit and soon we had Swiss Roll sponges fresh from the oven. They don’t take very long to bake, around 10-15 minutes.

Once the sponge was cool we spread a mixture of whipped cream and creme patisserie that the instructor had made earlier over it. Everyone else filled their rolls with strawberries, but I went for raspberries.

And then we rolled! Not the neatest Swiss Roll I’ve ever rolled, but hey ho. I liked the raspberries sticking out and the sponge was beautifully light.

To decorate the top of the roll I piped some more of the cream mixture along the top and then placed raspberries and some of the meringues we made earlier in a neat line. I was really impressed with the final effect!

Back to the chocolate tart. After blind baking the pastry we made the filling using cream, sugar, chocolate and egg yolks. We took turns carefully pouring the sauce into our pastry cases whilst they were still on the oven rack, which avoids any spills as the sauce fills the case right to the brim.

After a bit longer in the oven, the chocolate tarts were finally ready. I tried a little bit when it was still hot, but I definitely preferred this bake served cold when I got home with some cream to balance out the richness of the chocolate.

At the end of the day, not only did we get to leave with our delicious creations, but everyone also got a Kenwood kMix Hand Mixer each! I was so thrilled as I have wanted a hand mixer for a while, and to get a Kenwood one was fantastic. It was a great day and I really enjoyed it. It was a bit strange taking instructions on things I usually bake at home, but I think if you’re someone who doesn’t bake very often this class would be a fantastic way to boost your confidence.

Eating Out in Stockholm

Eating Out in Stockholm
I recently spent a week in Stockholm, Sweden and wanted to share with you all the foodie sights I saw and ate during my trip. I know that everyone’s holiday eating style and interests are different so I’ll tell you a bit about mine first. My boyfriend is a vegetarian so this controls a lot of our eating out choices as not only do we need to go to somewhere that has a veggie option, but we need to go somewhere that has a veggie option he likes! I’m happy to oblige this as most restaurants nowadays have varied choices for vegetarians. In Sweden every eatery you go to will have at least one vegetarian option, and there are also several vegetarian only restaurants.

We started our first night in Sweden with ice cream! Daim is a hugely popular Swedish brand which I love so I couldn’t resist it in ice cream form.

We found a vegetarian restaurant on our first day that I’d heard of in the guide books, but on arrivel my boyfriend was not impressed with it. So, we ended up in an Irish pub! It was called Wirstroms Pub and I had some really delicious beer battered fish and chips, while my boyfriend feasted on nachos. They had a great selection of food and it was really tasty.

We ate at a local Italian restaurant called Vapiano more than once as it was only a few doors down from our hotel, it was good value for money and the food was tasty. It is a chain restaurant with a number of branches internationally. They cooked all the food fresh right in front of you, which I liked as it meant you could customise the meal if you wished. Above is a prawn risotto which was delicious.

We went cycling around an area of Stockholm called Djurgården and came across the cafe of a Botanical Gardens. They had a gorgeous selection of cakes and other baked goods.

I went for a slice of rhubarb and cardamom cake with fresh cream. I loved the flavour combination and the cake was really moist, my only complaint – it needed more rhubarb!

We visited a place called Skansen, which is an open air museum focusing on Swedish history. They have historical buildings showcasing the trades of the past, I visited the bakery and it was so interesting to see the old style equipment and tools that was used to make the pastries and sweet breads.

As a baker, it was particularly exciting for me to see this and think about the huge changes in baking technology. The golden pretzel was the traditional symbol of bakeries which is why it is hung outside.

At Skansen they still make bread in the traditional way and they sell it on site. I purchased a cinnamon bun which I ate later and it was delicious!

We also had some lunch while we were at Skansen. I went for the hot dog which was served in a way I’ve not come across before. It had a cucumber relish on it, salad leaves and some crispy onions on top. I added some ketchup and it was delicious! I wasn’t a huge fan of the relish but I liked the salad leaves and crispy onions. My boyfriend went for crepes with fruit compote and cream which he really enjoyed.

As a special treat we went to a fancier restaurant one night. It was a seafood place called Sturehof and came highly recommended in the guide books and online. It only had one veggie option, which was a potato gnocchi, and my boyfriend could take it or leave it. I had lobster which was stunning!

For dessert I got a caramel bavarois with swiss roll and raspberry sorbet. Possibly the poshest dessert I’ve ever eaten! It was delicious and I loved the mix of tangy sorbet and rich caramel bavarois. My boyfriend had a creme brulee which was delicious but quite a small portion.

The next day we had lunch at Chokladkoppen which is in the old town area of Stockholm. I had lasagne which was really tasty. The salad was unusual to me as it included a very creamy dressing, beansprouts and a slice of orange! It’s interesting to see how food is served in different countries and I enjoy trying new things.

My boyfriend wasn’t hungry enough for a full meal so he had a cinnamon bun, it looked gorgeous!

 

We also managed to fit in some ice cream afterwards. Ben & Jerrys did a flavour I’ve not seen before that was very Swedish – Cinnamon Buns. It was soooo good! My boyfriend most mourned the loss of this ice cream when we flew home. I hope it comes to the UK!

Now I must get onto the topic of Swedish Princess Cakes. Oh how I love these tasty treats! I saw them in every shape and size throughout the week. The one above is from a bakery called Schweizer Konditori and it was amazing!

I gazed at them in many a shop window as well as a variety of other amazing looking cakes!

They even sold pre-coloured marzipan and the rose decorations for the top in the supermarket! This would’ve been so handy when I made a Swedish Princess Cake.

Ok so apologies for the bad photos, but damn these burgers were the best I ever tasted! We walked to a place called Flippin Burgers one night and this place is so popular we couldn’t even get a table (the wait was over an hour). So we got take out instead and ate it back at the hotel room. I’ve never eaten such a delicious burger. Seriously impressed.

Flippin Burgers also make ice cream milkshakes using Ben & Jerrys ice cream. I couldn’t have one as they didn’t have soy milk, but my boyfriend got a Strawberry Cheesecake flavour one. I had a few sneaky sips and it was stunning. Using Ben & Jerrys is a genius idea!

 

We checked out a food market later in the week called Östermalms Saluhall which was really cool. It was packed to the rafters with fresh produce, sandwiches overflowing with prawns, handmade chocolates and straight from the sea shellfish and salmon.

 

 

I love walking around food markets and just absorbing all the smells, sights and colours.

 

Our last meal of the holiday was at a place labelled as ‘the best pizza in town’. And I can confirm it deserved it’s title! It was called Dell Attore and there was a ton of pizza choice, over 20, we eventually settled on pepperoni with stilton and mozarella for me and my boyfriend had a variety of cheese on his pizza.

Well sadly our eating adventure had to come to an end at some point. We had such a great time in Stockholm and I enjoyed trying out all the new foods so much. If you get the chance to visit I highly recommend all the places I’ve mentioned above.

Review: Sainsbury’s Infused Sugars

 

 
 

Early this year Sainsbury’s expanded their baking range to make it bigger and better, and to meet the demand for baking products from the public. Their baking range now has products to suit both beginner and more experienced bakers. Part of that expansion is the Taste the Difference Infused Sugars (pictured above).

What Sainsbury’s say about the sugars:

“The more experienced baker can create, decorate and present a selection of sophisticated home baked delights using ingredients like Taste the Difference infused Lavender, Vanilla and Cinnamon sugars. Try the Lavender Sugar to make sophisticated Lavender shortbread, delicious served with creamy desserts like lemon posset or syllabub. The Vanilla Sugar provides the base for the ultimate Victoria sponge while the Cinnamon Sugar, seasoned to perfection with ground cinnamon and a cinnamon stick, is a wonderful way to add extra flavour to cakes like Carrot or Simnel.”

I decided to create 3 recipes using the sugars and utilise my trusty co-workers as guinea pigs to see what they thought…

 

I started with the lavender sugar and as this was my first time baking with lavender, and only my second time baking with a flower flavour, I referred back to what I’d paired with rose – raspberries. Therefore, I thought blackberries would be a good match for the lavender.

I creamed together 120g butter and 120g Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Infused Lavender Sugar.

I added 2 eggs, and whisked in, then added 120g self raising flour and folded in.

This made 8 good sized cupcakes. I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes.

I used these gorgeous fresh British blackberries from Sainsbury’s to make the buttercream.

I mixed together 60g butter, 8 mashed up blackberries and 300g icing sugar until it was smooth.

I piped the icing on top of the cupcakes and added a fresh blackberry to garnish.

I had mixed results from these cupcakes. Here are some comments from my tasters:

“It’s an unusual flavour, but it tastes good.”

“The sponge alone would be too strong, but the blackberry icing compliments the lavender perfectly.”

“I love lavender and these cupcakes are brilliant!”

If you are already a fan of lavender, you with without a doubt love these cupcakes! If you’ve never had it before, the fruit icing tones downs the flavour so it’s not too strong. I’d say it was definitely worth a try as discovering a new flavour that you turn out to love is always a good thing! And if you’re not a fan, it’s all part of the experience! Plus the icing is pretty good…

 
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

Cinnamon sugar was next and I had several idea of what to do with this (one was cinnamon scones, perhaps a future bake!) But seen as I had lots of leftover blackberries from the cupcakes, I decided to use them up for these tasty squares.

In a bowl I mixed together 250g self raising flour, 25g oats, 30g golden caster sugar and 250g Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Infused Cinnamon Sugar.

I rubbed 200g cold butter, cut into squares, into the mixture using my fingers.

I gently mixed in 75g coconut, then filled an (appropriately labelled!) mug with the mixture and set it aside.

I beat 2 eggs in a separate bowl, then added them to mixture and combined. I greased a square roasting tin and spread the mixture evenly into it.

I placed the blackberries (about a punnet and a half / 350g) on top.

Then I sprinkled over the mixture in the mug.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes, then reduced to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for a final 15 minutes. It smelt so good!

I left it to cool in the tin, then cut into squares and removed from the tin. 

What did my taster’s have to say about this bake…

“Very good cake!”

“Cake was amazing – thank you!”

“Delicious with great flavour, is there anymore?”

I really loved this bake, and it was so simple and quick to make. The cinnamon flavour was absolutely gorgeous in the squares and the tart juicy blackberries set it off perfectly. I struggled to restrain myself from having several pieces of this! If you don’t like coconut, use ground almonds instead, or omit it entirely.

The final pot of sugar was vanilla. I wanted the vanilla flavour to really come out and hold it’s own so I decided to use pears in this recipe as they have a light, refreshing taste that is not overpowering. They are also juicy and delicious!

I peeled, cored and halved five pears. I drizzled 1 tbsp brandy over them…just because!

I creamed together 225g butter and 225g Sainsbury’s Vanilla Infused Sugar.

I added 3 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

 

 

 

I folded in 225g self raising flour, 60g ground almonds and 1 tsp baking powder. I smoothed the batter into a greased square pan.

I placed the pears on top of the batter and sprinkled the remaining vanilla sugar over the top.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 35 minutes until it was golden. Cut into slices and serve, ideally with custard or ice cream. I’d recommend serving the same day, as the pears are very juicy the sponge went a bit soggy by the next day, although that didn’t stop my eager tasters!

“That was amazing, thank you!”


“It reminds me of my childhood…it’s really good.”


“Well, this cake was amazing.”

Not quite sure what the childhood comment means, but this cake was definitely a winner. Full of fresh, sweet flavours with a lovely hit of vanilla. This is definitely the most versatile of the sugars, you could really experiment with different flavour combinations.
 

Lavender & Blackberry Cupcakes
 
 
Ingredients
  • 180g Butter
  • 120g I creamed together 120g butter and 120g Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Infused Lavender Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 120g Self raising flour
  • 16 Blackberries
  • 300g Icing sugar
 
Instructions
Cream together 120g of the butter and the lavender sugar
Add the eggs, whisk in, then add the self raising flour and fold in
Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes
For the buttercream mix together 60g of the butter, 8 mashed up blackberries and the icing sugar until smooth
Pipe the icing on top of the cupcakes and add a fresh blackberry to garnish
 

 

 

Blackberry, Coconut & Cinnamon Squares
 
 
Ingredients
  • 250g Self raising flour
  • 25g Oats
  • 30g Golden caster sugar
  • 250g Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Infused Cinnamon Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 75g Dessicated coconut
  • 2 Eggs
  • 350g Blackberries
 
Instructions
In a bowl mix together the self raising flour, oats, golden caster sugar and cinnamon sugar
Rub the butter, cut into squares, into the mixture using your fingers
Mix in the dessicated coconut, then fill a mug with some of the mixture and set it aside
Beat in the eggs in a separate bowl, then add them to the bowl and combine. Grease a square roasting tin and spread the mixture evenly into it
Place the blackberries on top of the mixture
Then sprinkled over the reserved mixture in the mug
Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes, then reduce to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for a final 15 minutes

 

Pear & Vanilla Cake
 
 
Ingredients
  • 5 Pears
  • 1 tbsp Brandy
  • 225g Butter
  • 250g Sainsburys Vanilla Infused Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 225g Self raising flour
  • 60g Ground almonds
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
 
Instructions
Peel, core and halve the pears. Drizzle the brandy over them
Cream together the butter and 225g of the vanilla sugarAdd the eggs and vanilla extract
Fold in the self raising flour, ground almonds and baking powder. Smooth the batter into a greased square pan
Place the pears on top of the batter and sprinkle the remaining 25g vanilla sugar over the top
Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 35 minutes until it is golden