This week’s been all about celebrating good food, and boy has there been a lot of it! But what’s the fastest food in the world? Scone! (I’ll get my coat). I’m sharing my St David’s Day recipe for bacon, leek and Welsh Cheddar scones today too.
I’ve been up to my elbows in flour this week as we continue to work on my recipe book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself (it’s so surreal that you can already pre-order it on Amazon). We’re shooting it at my house, which works well for me as I can make all the food for it in the oven I used to develop the recipes. It also means the kids are around to feature in some of the shots, which is really cute – they’re loving it. The team have turned our study into their prop room and it’s an Aladdin’s Cave at the moment. We keep going in there and finding new cool stuff – plates, cake boards and loads of bits and pieces from a shop called Labour & Wait. My own kitchen is a real mismatch of different plates and bowls and things we’ve found on various holidays and I reckon we might need to turn the study into my permanent baking overflow room even after the book’s finished.
It was the third of the four Great Comic Relief Bake Off episodes this week and another good one. I’ve been really enjoying writing about them for the Radio Times and it’s pretty cool that Sarah Brown herself read it too. I thought I might get a few pangs of jealousy seeing new people in the tent but actually it’s a great feeling. You totally appreciate what they’re all going through and if there’s one thing being on Bake Off trains you for really well, it’s creating new recipes. Every week I’ve enjoyed thinking about what I would have baked for each of the challenges. I have a little notebook in my kitchen drawer where I write down all my recipe ideas and it’s a useful habit to get into. I was flicking through it yesterday and found all my prototype drawings for my gingerbread sea monster from Biscuit Week, which was a bit of a flashback.
It also dawned on me that it was this time last year when I found out I was definitely going to be on The Great British Bake Off. It’s my birthday on Tuesday and my present last year was a kMix stand mixer from my wife Sarah and my mum (using it for the first time in the picture above), because I knew I was going to need it. I’ve probably used it well over 200 times during the past year! If any of the Series 6 contestants are reading this, good luck! Don’t hesitate to contact me privately via this site if you want any support. It will be the best experience of your lives but this is the tricky bit where you’re not supposed to tell anyone you’re going to be on the show – nearly six more months to keep schtum!
Apart from working on my book, the coolest thing to happen this week was the BBC Good Food party, celebrating 25 years of the magazine, at the Vinyl Factory in Soho. I’m going to be featured in April’s Good Food Magazine with my daughters so I can’t wait for that, but I’ve also used the Good Food website for as long as I can remember. I have shelves full of cookery books but I’ve probably used that site more than all of the books put together. It’s an amazing resource. The party was packed with foodies and I got to meet two people I’m big fans of and who I’d been wanting to meet for a while – Jack Monroe (pictured with me above) and Monica Galetti. We’re lucky enough to share the same agent, Rosemary Scoular.
There were also quite a few Bake Off-ers from the past few years at the party: Edd Kimber & Miranda Gore Browne from Series 1; Jo Wheatley & Holly Bell from Series 2; John Whaite from Series 3; Kimberley Wilson from Series 4; and Luis and me from Series 5. Every single Bake Off contestant I’ve met has been so nice – warm, enthusiastic and full of great advice on adjusting to life after the show. It’s been pretty life-changing for a lot of people. Edd (pictured with Luis and me above) made an incredible anniversary cake for the event – he is an amazing baker and a top bloke too.
It was great catching up with Luis at the Good Food Party but the two of us also had a virtual catch-up on Friday. On Friday afternoon we did an online Facebook chat with American viewers of the Great British Baking Show on PBS. The final of our series is being shown in the US later today. The response has been so warm from people watching across the pond and it’s been fun reliving it each week, even if they can’t always understand what I’m saying!
My baking inspiration this week has come from St David’s Day. I’m posting my blog a bit earlier today so I can share this recipe and give people the chance to make these later as they’re delish. Spring is in the air, so for the first time in ages, I’m off to volunteer with the Coppetts Wood Conservationists. About 4 or 5 years ago I used to volunteer with them a lot, having got in touch with them via the London Wildlife Trust. In my BSc Biodiversity & Conservation, I chose to do my final research project on Coppetts Wood so I can’t wait to see how it’s going and what the volunteers have been up to. After a week in the kitchen, I’m craving being out in the fresh air and feeling like I’m doing some good. Anyway, if you’re spending some time outdoors today, knock up a batch of these before you go so you’ve got a treat to come home to.
Bacon, leek and Welsh cheddar scones
- 250g strong white flour
- 40g unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 2 large eggs (1 for egg washing)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 125ml whole milk
- 100g streaky bacon, cut into lardons (approx 4 rashers)
- 100g leek, finely chopped (approx 1 small leek)
- 50g grated Welsh cheddar
- Splash of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 220oC
- Put 225g of the flour into a bowl and rub in 40g butter. Remember to save the remaining 25g of flour!
- Cut the bacon into lardons and fry in a little olive oil. Chop the leek and add this to the bacon when it’s started to cook through. Fry together and leave to cool
- Grate the cheddar and add this to the flour and butter with 1tbsp baking powder. Mix well, then add the cooled bacon and leeks
- Beat the egg and add this to the mix with most of the 125ml milk and combine to form a wet-ish dough. Do not over-work the dough, or the scones won’t rise. Be very gentle with it
- Spread half of the remaining flour on to a work surface, and scoop the dough on to it. Sprinkle the remaining flour onto the dough
- Doing your best not to stick the dough to your rolling pin or the surface, roll the dough out to about 25 x 15cm, and fold one half over. Pick up the dough, and flip over to avoid it sticking again and repeat the rolling and folding another two times
- Roll out to 2cm depth, and punch out circles with a 7cm round cutter. Don’t worry if your cutter is bigger or smaller, you will just get more or fewer scones. A 7cm cutter makes about 8 scones
- Mix up the leftover dough to make the rest of the scones after the first press-out, but be careful not to work the dough too much
- Put the raw scones onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment, brush the tops with some beaten egg, and cook for 15 minutes
- Take out, cool, and serve with cream cheese or butter