We had a wonderful Great British Bake Off reunion this week at a very special wedding. And as you would expect, there was a LOT of cake…
On Friday, my good friend Iain Watters (from my year of the Great British Bake Off) married his beautiful girlfriend Catriona. Iain and Catriona are an incredible couple – funny, warm, considerate, interesting, well-travelled, stylish and perfect for each other. We love spending time with them. Their wedding was a really special day, with the thought behind every single detail creating a fantastic experience for all their guests. My wife Sarah and I were excited to be out without the kids and certainly made the most of being off the leash! Their wedding reception was at St John at Hackney Church, and if you’re looking for a great venue in London, I’d really recommend it. The venue manager there, Sarah, is excellent.
I arrived a little bit early along with Chetna, as we had both made three cakes each for the heaving cake table (mine are on the left of the picture above, Chetna’s are on the right). I think there were 14 wedding cakes in total. I always get a bit nervous transporting cakes in cabs, but I took along my emergency cake repair kit (spare buttercream in piping bags and offset palette knife) and they were fine. Chetna took her three cakes on the train from Broadstairs with her overnight bag too so deserves a medal for that!
My three cakes were three of my absolute favourites. I made my lemon meringue layer cake – four lemon sponges with lemon curd and limoncello Italian meringue buttercream (recipes for the component parts are all in my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself); carrot cake – from the recipe in my Bake Off friend Luis’s book Bake It Great; and Lotus Biscoff cake – I blogged the recipe for this a few weeks ago here. I wanted the three cakes to look like a trio so I topped them all with fresh pansies and violas from my local nurseries. I don’t really like to eat flowers, even if they are edible like pansies and violas, but these can be picked off quite easily and they really made the cakes look special. As I do a lot of food shoots in my home these days, I’m building up quite a collection of plates and stands and people always want to know where they’re from. The lemon cake was on this stand from Wilko, the carrot cake on a plate I bought from eBay a few years ago for (disastrous) Dobos Torte week on the Bake Off, and the Lotus Biscoff cake was on this plate, from a shop local to me in Mill Hill.
Great food was definitely a big feature of the wedding. When I heard that the wedding breakfast was going to be Eritrean food, I was really intrigued – I’ve had to look up Eritrea on a map as I had no idea where in Africa it was. You don’t often hear people saying “I could murder an Eritrean take away tonight” but more fool them, because it was incredible! The caterers were Lem Lem Kitchen (follow them on Twitter here) and the food was off the hook (menu above). So delicious and it just kept on coming. If you’re in London, keep an eye out for any of their forthcoming supper clubs or go along to their street food stand in Netil Market.
Pudding was, of course, the cake table. And how fitting that for the main wedding cake, Iain made a Baked Alaska! But this time it was a cheesecake inside rather than ice cream so survived the evening. This was a really witty touch from Iain and Catriona and the Baked Alaska had almost as many pictures taken of it as the Bride and Groom did. Chetna and I helped out serving the cakes and in the evening, we were joined by nearly all of our fellow 2014 Bakers: Claire, Enwezor, Jordan, Diana, Kate, Martha and Nancy. Unfortunately Norman couldn’t make it at the last minute and Luis is rushed off his feet running his new bakery in Stockport, The Hive. A few more pictures of us all from my Instagram below…
It was such a good night and it’s been a while since I got in at 4am. The hangover was worth it though!
The following day we met up with Iain, Catriona, and their friends and family for another get-together before the new Mr & Mrs Watters headed on their honeymoon today. We’re already planning our Bake Off Christmas party so we all have an excuse to meet up again as it’s been a fantastic weekend together.
When I’ve not been making cakes this week, I’ve been trying to get other people to instead! I try and help my friends at the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity whenever I can so I went along to one of their Bake It Better events on Thursday to try and encourage staff working in the Time Inc Group to join in with the campaign. I did an interview with the team at What’s On TV while I was there, giving my views on this year’s Bake Off contestants. In our house, our daughters really like Andrew, Candice, Benjamina and Selasi, so there’ll be tears at bedtime if/when any of these four leave the competition. I’m starting to watch it with a more critical eye now, trying to suss who might make the final. It was definitely a talking point among my fellow Class of 2014 when we met up! The Bake It Better campaign launches in October so sign up here to raise money for Great Ormond Street – it’s such a good cause.
It’s Batter Week for the first time on the Great British Bake Off this week so everyone in my house has requested one of our favourite dinners on Wednesday night – Toad in the Hole. You can find my Chorizo Toad in the Hole recipe (pictured above) here, if you fancy it too. In the meantime, it’s bread, bread, bread (and a few more cakes) in our house this week as I prepare for my appearances at the Abergavenny Food Festival this weekend. Come and say hi if you see us there and until next week (depending on what time we get back from Abergavenny), Happy Baking!