It’s been a bake-heavy week (for a change!) including a cracking episode of The Great British Bake Off, that’s had me full of ideas for historic bakes. I also visited Liverpool for the first time and after the best welcome ever, I can’t wait to go back!
I thought the Victorian theme for this week’s Bake Off was a really interesting idea, and I hope they do more weeks like this in future. We have a few historic cookery books (and history books about cooking) at home as it’s a shared interest of mine and my wife Sarah’s. For my brother-in-law’s 21st birthday a few years back, we made him a full-on Tudor feast, as authentically as possible. The history of food was also one of the things I enjoyed most about visiting Kentwell Hall in Suffolk earlier this year. I’m stocked up with ideas now so will get creative in the run up to Christmas. In the ‘Pies & Tarts‘ week of my series, I was originally going to make tiered pies with guinea fowl, wild boar and venison. I love game, but it’s so rich that after a couple of practises, my family couldn’t really face much more so I ended up changing them – I should have stuck to my guns I reckon! My family’s favourite pies are both in my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself – ‘leftover’ chicken pie and steak and ale pie – but I have a whole chapter on savoury pies, can’t beat ’em.
The steak and ale pie (above) is always a winner – real Desperate Dan territory – so there was no way I could watch all the pies being made on this week’s Bake Off without having one for dinner. I wrote a ‘half term report‘ of the bakers for the Radio Times this week, with my verdict on how I think they’re all doing. I was gutted for Mat this week, but the standard is getting really high now. I reckon the quarter-final, semi-final and final will be incredible. I also gave the Radio Times my steak and ale pie recipe to share on their website – see link. Give it a try (and send me a picture on Twitter or Instagram if you do) – you’ll love it!
I’ve been going all over the country recently doing demos, book signings, promoting my book, B.I.Y., and basically showing off! There’s lots more to come all the way through until December, when I’ll have to stop for a bit as our third child is due! I’ll update my website and tweet about them as soon as things are confirmed. This week I went up to Liverpool for their Food & Drink Festival and had such a good time – my face ached from grinning like a Cheshire Cat all day on Saturday. I started the day by doing a BBQ demo of fresh sardines and salad. Thankfully this weekend was still BBQ weather, just about. I’ve always loved sea- and fly-fishing and go as often as I can but as my wife doesn’t eat any fish at all, it’s my go-to favourite for BBQs so that cooking fish doesn’t make the kitchen smell! I did two baking demos later in the day, which were packed out (see fuzzy-looking selfie above) and a right laugh. People who have been to my recent demos and bought my book have since been sending me pictures of their bakes on Twitter (e.g. here and here), which has been terrific.
I met some amazing chefs and food suppliers in Liverpool and was treated to a spectacular three-course meal by Chef Paul Askew from The Art School Restaurant (pudding selection pictured above). I’m getting spoilt this year by how much incredible food is on offer around the UK. Nothing I ate on holiday in France came close to the innovation and flavours I’ve had back home. I’m really looking forward to my third trip to the North-West in as many weeks next weekend for Taste Cumbria in Cockermouth. Sarah and I have been to the Lakes many times but not since we’ve been married (seven years ago today!) and not with the kids either so we’re making a family weekend of it. I’m not sure whether we’ll get time to visit the UK’s best museum (in my expert opinion) again, we’ll see! Have a great week.