For someone with no working kitchen, there’s been a whole lot of baking going on this week. It’s been a Wicked fortnight, in more ways than one.
I’m inching ever closer to having my kitchen up and running. I’ve taken delivery of my new cooker (its arrival pictured above), the units are being assembled and I’ll be booking in the worktop templating this week. Very nearly there. We’ve all taken to planning our dream meals to cook once we have the kitchen finished, to keep us going. I’ve been doing most of our meals for the past few months on my single induction hob that I use for cooking demos so we’re really craving oven cooked food now. My friend Rukmini Iyer has her new book out in a couple of weeks – The Green Roasting Tin – so looking forward to a summer full of her recipes as her first book is a real family favourite too.
It’s a while off yet, but we’re hosting my folks for Christmas dinner this year and after their visit to the Barnet Medieval Festival last weekend, my old man (pictured above) got caught up in the fun and bought a replica medieval dagger. He’s sharpening it up to be a carving knife and he, Mum and the kids had such a good time at the festival that we’re going to have a medieval themed Christmas this year. My folks have been incredibly patient with me using their kitchen over the past few months so really looking forward to repaying them at my gaff. I have a great medieval bread recipe but feel free to pass me any other medieval recipes as I’m building up a collection. And Happy Father’s Day to my Dad today too! I’ve learnt so much from him and am grateful to him every day for what he’s done for me and our family.
I did some really fun filming across the road in my parents’ kitchen this week for Triton Tools – using their woodworking tools to make a cake inside a gingerbread tool box, complete with gingerbread tools. The full video will follow soon and there are more pictures on my Instagram here. It was pretty good timing as the team at Triton have kindly left me a load of tools that I’m using to build my kitchen at the moment. Projects like this never fail to make me smile about the journey from having been on Bake Off to what I get to do now.
I also knocked up my daughter’s favourite red velvet cake for her birthday this week. It was a much more simple affair than her Harry Potter themed 8th birthday and her Roald Dahl themed 7th birthday. It brings a lump to my throat to see our eldest turn nine and start wanting more grown up things. Rather than having a party, this year my wife Sarah took our eldest and four friends to an escape room in London and they had an amazing time – they’d really recommend it.
On her actual birthday on Wednesday, I took our elder two daughters into town to meet Sarah from work and go to see Wicked the Musical. It was the first (but definitely not the last) time we’d taken the kids to a West End musical and we couldn’t have chosen a better show for them. The theatre is huge and really kid-friendly, with booster seats, slushies and popcorn. A few years ago, Sarah and I were lucky to meet Bradley Jaden, who was performing in Les Miserables at the time. I judged their Les Mis Bake Off competition and we’ve been to see the show a couple of times since and stayed in touch with Bradley, who is returning to play Javert in Les Mis from next month. Bradley is currently the male lead, Fiyero, in Wicked so kindly came out to meet our girls after the show – we’d never seen them so speechless! They were absolutely overwhelmed and overjoyed. It was a very special night – thanks so much Bradley!
Sarah’s had a busy week too, as the National Trust (where she works) unveiled a major new architectural artwork, Writ in Water, at Runnymede to commemorate Magna Carta. It was designed by the Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger and featured on BBC Breakfast last Friday.
To congratulate Mark Wallinger and thank all the volunteers and staff who worked on the project, I knocked up a cake version of Writ In Water – being cut by Mark in the picture above. I made a Lotus Biscoff flavoured cake (my recipe here) as it’s always a winner, and the crunchy Biscoff buttercream on the outside mimicked the materials used on the actual artwork.
As for today, I spent Father’s Day out cycling around 130km across North London and Hertfordshire with Islington Cycling Club. My mate Jon (pictured above with me in tow) is the Chair of the club and has generously taken on trying to get me ready to cycle Ride London for Great Ormond Street Hospital in six weeks. Sarah bought me a road bike for my birthday this year but this was only the second time I’d had a chance to get out on it so I was a bit daunted by the distance. But Jon and all the Islington Cycling Club crew made it such a fun day. A really interesting, welcoming and diverse bunch of people. If you’re based in North London and are thinking of giving club cycling a try, no matter what your level (I’m a total beginner), they’ll see you right. They do training rides every weekend – more info here. I think I’ve got the bug now…
Finally, to all the Dads out there, I hope you’ve had a good Father’s Day today. For those people who have lost their Dads or have complicated relationships with their Dads, I hope today has been ok for you too. My middle child presented me with the picture above and it was a real reminder of how the small things in life are what they remember and I’ll treasure this from her. The kids also got me a new cafetiere and loads of different Monmouth Coffees so even if my body is aching from today’s ride, hopefully the caffeine will get me going tomorrow morning. Until next time, Happy Baking!