At last I can tell you what I’ve been up to for the past few months – I’m only writing my own recipe book!
So, the reason I’ve been a bit quieter on my blog is that I’ve barely left the house for the past few weeks except to buy more ingredients! In November, I agreed a book deal with Quadrille Publishing and I’ve taken two months off work to write it. The deal has now been announced so I’m really glad I can start talking about it. It’s been the first winter in my life where I haven’t spent it outside working in the cold and it’s been quite weird to have been living in my kitchen for so long. My hands have gone all soft! My book, B.I.Y. – Bake It Yourself, will be out later this year – probably September.
My job through December and January has been to write all the recipes to go in the book – around 80. It’s been a bit of a mammoth undertaking and I’ve been making two or three things every day – I’m getting pretty popular with my neighbours! The book will contain all of my favourite bakes, from easy to advanced. I’ve spent the past year or so with recipes all over the kitchen – in notebooks, on scraps of paper, in folders. Putting all my ideas together in one place is such an exciting experience. I can’t wait to see the final result – it’s such an incredible opportunity and the team at Quadrille are making it lots of fun. We’ll be shooting the pictures for the book in February and March so I’ll try and post a few on the blog. At least it will make Christmas shopping easy this year, and books are pretty easy to wrap too!
One of the things that’s been on my mind a bit over the past few months is my garden, as it’s the only view from my kitchen. I’m really lucky to have a vegetable plot at the end of my garden. Last year with filming the Bake Off, I didn’t get any time to tend to my veggies and so the picture above is from a few years ago. I’m starting to think about what to plant this year. I have a few apple (braeburn and bramley), pear (conference and comice), cherry and plum trees in the garden and some great soft fruit bushes – loads of raspberries, white currants, blueberries, red currants, gooseberries and blackberries. I grow rhubarb every year too.
I want to choose vegetables this year that will work with some of my bakes but I need to think about this a bit more and do some research – suggestions welcome! I usually grow courgettes and I’d like to grow some squashes and/or pumpkins too. I’m keen to do some tomatoes in hanging baskets and I love doing peas and beans as they’re great for scrumping. One of my favourite things about the summer is picking the girls up from school and nursery and hanging out in the vegetable patch with them running around eating all the fruit off the bushes. There’s always plenty left over to bake with too. The first thing I’m going to do once I’ve handed in all my recipes to Quadrille is to get out in the garden and start turning over the dirt. Can’t wait!
Finally, it’s just over a year since I had my second audition for Bake Off. It was fun this weekend to think that somewhere in the UK, a new batch of bakers were probably getting ready for their own auditions too. Good luck to all of them if they’re reading – even getting to the auditions is such an achievement. I know how hard it is keeping it quiet (as you have to from the first audition onwards) and how you’ll spend the next few weeks staring at your phone. After my first audition, Sarah bought me The Flavour Thesaurus, and it’s probably one of the books that I’ve used most over the past year. I’d really recommend it. It’s not a recipe book, it just talks about pairing different flavour combinations and it’s pretty good at giving you confidence to experiment in the kitchen.
Sorry I’m a day late blogging – normal service will be resumed next week – catch you then!