My baking’s gone back to basics and I’m enjoying it more than ever. On this week’s blog I’m sharing a few backing hacks as well as plenty more DIY advice.
I’ve worked a fair bit with Homepride Flour over the past few years. They keep me in a constant supply of plain flour and bread flour, and I’ve developed a few recipes for them too (see here). A lot of their research says that people can be intimidated by complicated recipes and really don’t know where to start with learning to bake. This is one of the things I tackled head-on in my five-star rated recipe book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, with each of the recipes graded in levels so you can work through the book as your confidence develops (Christmas is coming, don’t forget!) I recently made a few videos with Homepride, including the one above showing how easy some recipes can be. My soda bread recipe above doesn’t need any fancy ingredients and is ready from scratch in well under an hour.
I was reminded of some of my old bakes this week when the twenty pictures above arrived. I bought copies of all of my Bake Off bakes by Tom Hovey, the illustrator on the Great British Bake Off. If you love his drawings as much as we do, don’t forget he does a Bake Off colouring book too. We’re framing my bakes for the wall of our new kitchen and it was such a nice reminder of all the work that went into them. Throughout my time on the Bake Off, I always wanted to make the things people at home would want to eat or try and cook themselves (see here), and I tried to avoid ingredients you couldn’t find on your local high street – often because it made it easier to practice each week. That’s still the way I bake now and some of the back-to-basics baking I’ve done recently has been a lot of fun. I’m working on some simple, delicious Christmas recipes at the moment that I hope to share soon.
If you’re planning on going to Taste of London this month, it’s on at Tobacco Dock in London from 16 to 19 November. I’ll be teaching baking classes every day at the AEG kitchens at the festival so come along and get Christmas-ready! I’ve really enjoyed teaching baking classes over the past few years and I’m looking forward to being able to do this from my new and improved kitchen at home in 2018. If you’d be interested in booking sessions with me in the new year, do get in touch.
Speaking of back to basics cooking, I got a copy of my friend Rukmini Iyer’s recipe book ‘The Roasting Tin‘ this week. Rukmini was on Masterchef a few years ago and has since become a food stylist and writer. She worked on my book with me as a stylist and I’ve been in awe of her book – it’s been a huge success too. Anyone feeling uninspired by mid-week dinners for the family, Rukmini’s book is packed with good ideas.
Building work on my own home is going a little bit slower than planned as I keep getting distracted by baking work and I’m still yet find an apprentice (please do get in touch if you know someone interested and based near North London), but it’s getting there. My most recent DIY columns have included the 20 essential items you need in your toolbox (full of Christmas present ideas for new home owners) and my 5 Top Tips for securing furniture to the walls – absolutely crucial in our house with a little toddler (pictured with me above) who loves to climb everything! I write the columns for the Press Association and they get syndicated out to the media so I find it really interesting each week to see where the articles end up. Please do keep getting in touch with anything you’d like me to cover – it really helps to know what DIY challenges people need help with.
My wife Sarah left her job at Transport for London this week after 11 years there so for her leaving party I made a giant carrot cake (pictured above) with the TfL logo on top in candied walnuts and pecans. I’ve never really had colleagues in my line of work, but over the years her work mates have done quite well from my baking experiments and trials – happily hoovering up prototype doughnuts and cakes – I think I’ll miss them as much as she will. Sarah’s going to be helping me on our house renovations for a couple of months before starting a new role as an Assistant Director with the London & South East region of the National Trust in January (for my American readers – have a look at the Royal Oak Foundation for more info). We’ve had such a busy year that I’m really looking forward to us hanging out and working together for the rest of 2017. And the whole family are looking forward to visiting loads of National Trust places together next year too.
Finally congratulations to all of this year’s Great British Bake Off finalists. I thought the series worked well on Channel 4 – much better than I thought it would – and Noel Fielding was the highlight for me. If you’re keen to put your money where your mouth is, applications for the next series are now open. You’ve got nothing to lose. Until next week, Happy Baking!