I’ve been surrounded by books this week and not just copies of my own! It’s been really great catching up with so many of my GBBO Class of 2014 Alumni too.
It’s been another pretty full-on week and very sociable too. On Tuesday, I took my little sister Katherine along to Daunt Books, Marylebone for the launch of Quinntessential Baking, the long awaited book by Frances Quinn. Frances won the Great British Bake Off in 2013 and is one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the past year. I’d tell you all about how great her book is, but as soon as I brought my copy home my mum pinched it and I’ve not seen it since! My Bake Off buddy Martha was at the launch too, along with Kim Somauroo, who had run all the backstage and demo kitchens at The Big Feastival last weekend, and Felicity Spector from Channel 4 News (all pictured above). After the launch we all went to dinner at a new Peruvian restaurant nearby – Pachamama. I have loved Peruvian food since I went travelling in Peru seven years ago – there’s a very good reason why people call Lima the food capital of South America. Great food, great company and I led Martha astray by introducing her to pisco sours too!
The cakes I made for CBeebies grown ups went live onto their website this week with ‘how to’ guides for parents to replicate them at home. I made three cakes – Octonauts, Sarah & Duck, and Swashbuckle (which is my daughters’ favourite show). I’m hoping to make a few more cakes for them in the autumn too. We’re massive CBeebies fans in our house so it was loads of fun doing these recipes and the interview that went with them. Baking with (and for) my kids is my favourite thing to do and probably the reason why I entered the Bake Off in the first place. There was also a little trail for the recipes in the credits of Bake Off this week, which was a cool surprise!
Speaking of Bake Off, we’re already half way through the series – how did that happen?! Episode 5 was all about alternative ingredients and as I said in my weekly Radio Times review, I’m asked for gluten-free cake recipes more than anything else. I have a delicious gluten and dairy free orange and almond cake recipe in my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, but I’m working on some more at the moment. I was sad to see Ugne go, but chuffed to bits for Nadiya getting Star Baker – thoroughly deserved. Her showstopper (illustrated by Tom Hovey above) had me drooling at the telly.
Thursday evening was Luis’s book launch of Bake It Great at Divertimenti in Knightsbridge (ooh, posh!) Quite a few of my Bake Off gang came along – Martha, Chetna, Kate, Diana and Claire, who made the incredible book cake above. It was a really nice evening and I’m so pleased for Luis. In addition to the bakes Luis made from his book (above), the very talented Sabrina Ghayour was also there and made some of the recipes from her award winning book Persiana. We bought her book straight after tasting her incredible food and my wife Sarah is already working her way through it, making the amazing bulgur wheat salad recipe last night. As the saying goes “once you’ve tried Persian, there’s no other version”, so Persiana’s going to be a very well-used addition to our overflowing kitchen book shelf!
This weekend has rounded off my book-y week. Yesterday I popped along to my local Costco, a.k.a. ‘The Hundred Pound Shop’ as it’s hard to leave there without spending a Ton! I signed a big pile of books, met a lot of lovely people and left there two trolley-fulls of stuff later – whoops! Today I went to the Bertrams Book Trade Show in Windsor, carrying my weight in homemade baklava to talk to book sellers about B.I.Y. It was a really great day, and my talk was followed by one from the awesome Brian Blessed – boy was I glad I went first and didn’t have to follow him! I’m chokka every weekend for the foreseeable now – keep an eye on my website’s Appearances section as I’ll be adding more as things get confirmed. I think I’m doing book signings at each of the food events too so will tweet details when I know them. It’s a good job that hanging out at food events and chatting about my book is such good fun! I’ve got my own book launch to look forward to this week so I’ll be up to my elbows in flour making treats for it and then off to Manchester at the weekend for the Food & Drink Festival so come and say hi if you’re around. See you next week!