Welcome to week seven! I can’t believe that we’re well past halfway and there’s just a few weeks left of Bake-Off wednesdays!
It’s pastry week and that means a high-stress day in the tent… and I’ve heard rumours that there’s even more controversy coming our way (but seriously BBC, stop spoilering the Bake-Off).
The first challenge is to make 12 perfect savoury parcels to impress the judges with. Both Chetna and Kate are making Indian inspired parcels while Luis is making spanish style empanadas. Martha is making mini beef wellingtons which is quite original, I suppose. Richard is making lamb and sweet potato pasties (adorable baby ones!).
Richard is judged first, and his pasty’s look fabulous – he gets THREE ‘greats’ from Paul. Martha’s beef wellingtons also go down very well, while Luis’s empanadas are too big and a bit underdone. Nancy and Kate do very poorly, and Chetna’s parcels are ‘lovely’.
Oh, and Mel eats a lot of parcels!
Time for the technical challenge – it’s a kouign amann – a buttery, flaky muffin sized pastry. The recipe flummoxes the contestants, especially with regard to when to put the sugar in – Richard and Martha guess right by putting it in last. As their bakes prove, the contestants prowl the tent wondering if they’ve done it right.
Time for Paul and Mary to have their say on the kouign amann’s – there are some real variations in how they’ve turned out. Luis comes last, followed by Nancy, Chetna, Kate, Martha, and Richard is first!
Showstopper! The challenge is to produce 24 delicious, perfectly identical eclairs. We’ve got raspberry lemon meringue eclairs, neopolitan eclairs, and lavendar and blueberry eclairs… really creative, delicious flavours.
They have four hours to perfect their eclairs, but the judges
Nancy is judged first and the judges really like her eclairs, although find them slightly too sweet. Richard, the superstar, has made some homemade stairs to showcase his eclairs. They look fantastic – so even and perfectly done, and P-Holl and M-Bez like the flavours too.
Luis is up next and his peanut butter and jam eclairs are ‘different’ and ‘incredible’. Paul seems genuinely impressed as he heaps praise on a very pleased look Luis. Kate’s lemon and raspberry basil eclairs taste really good, but the presentation is a little poor. Kate laments that she’ll probably be going home as a result.
Chetna has accidentally made thirteen eclairs instead of twelve, which Mel and Sue quickly swoop away. The flavours are great, with Paul and Mary loving the different flavours. Last up is Martha, who managed to get her rhubarb and custard and bacon eclairs presented despite a battle against time. Martha gets probably her most constructive criticism yet – is there a chance she could go home?
Time for every week’s most nail-biting moment, and todays star baker is Richard for the unprecedented THIRD time. Kate is going home, true to her predictions, and Martha instantly bursts into tears, no doubt fearing she was the one leaving. Kate takes it with grace and aplomb – what a lovely lady!
Recipes from this week’s episode
Great British Bake Off links from around the web
- Mary speaks out on Bingate, saying it was no one’s fault and everyone gets on famously
- Diana has also spoken on it for the last time, saying that her conscience is clear on last week’s Extra Slice
See you next week for the counter-finals – a dangerous week of fruity bakes (and doughnuts!).
This stuff just smells like winter and the festive season! I love this time of year! But what is pumpkin pie spice? It’s a prepared product that you can buy in the US, but it’s very easy to make at home from spices you’ll probably already have on hand. Pumpkin Pie spice has kind of taken over most of America, there’s the Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks (I’m not a fan but you can make your own - I’m sure homemade is better!), Pumpkin Spice flavoured marshmallows, and now Pumpkin Spice Oreo’s too!
Making your own pumpkin pie spice is so simple, it’s just an easy combination of other spices! Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice to be exact. And you can adjust this recipe to your own taste – this one is heavier on the cinnamon, since I love cinnamon! So now if an American recipe calls for it, you can have some on hand ready to bake up an autumn/Christmas storm.
For the best Pumpkin Pie Spice, buy jars of cinnamon, ginger and allspice if they’ve been sitting around in your cupboard for a while, and grate your nutmeg fresh – it takes a bit longer, but it’s so worth it flavour wise.
- 6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 teaspoons grated nutmeg (or ground, fresh grated is obviously better though)
- 5 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3 teaspoons ground allspice
- Combine the spices together in a bowl and mix gently. Spoon into a small clean jar or container (which is airtight) and store for the shelf life of the spices.
Let me know if you bake anything using it – I’m definitely going to be using it in cinnamon buns and other Christmas baking!
These tasty granola style bars are deliciously spiced, and packed full of wholesome oats, crunchy pecans and melty chocolate chips! They’re the perfect on the go treat for an autumn walk or day out, and even though they’re pretty good for you, the chocolate chips and pumpkin spices give them a bit of indulgence.
These Pumpkin Chocolate Oat bars are thick and chewy, but thanks to the pumpkin they stay soft and moist for days. I kept them in a tin for five days, and if I wanted to enjoy one with melty chocolate, I popped it into the microwave for about 8 seconds to warm it up slightly.
It’s true, we’re thick into pumpkin season around here and there’s no going back. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (at least until the other most wonderful time of the year gets here).
You can make your own pureed pumpkin, but by far the easiest option is to buy it. Both Waitrose and Ocado sell it for home delivery, and you can also pick it up in large Tesco’s in the American food section – at the moment it’s £2 a can everywhere. I normally bake 2-3 baked goods (or savoury meals too like pumpkin soup or pumpkin risotto!) out of a can – I simply freeze any remaining puree from an opened can until I’m ready to use it.
- 350g / 3 1/2 cups jumbo oats
- 180g / 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
- 45g / 3 rounded tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 150g / 3/4 cup brown sugar (Don't worry if you don't have any, you can make your own! Just search brown sugar in the search bar)
- large pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- pinch cloves
- half tsp ground ginger
- 115g / 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 80g / 1/4 cup maple syrup
- To decorate: 18 pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 160C/gas mark 4/350F and lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, chocolate chips, spices and salt. Next, mix the melted butter, pumpkin puree and maple syrup in another bowl or jug until combined. Mix the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly, and then tip the mixture into the baking tip. Press down firmly using the back of a spoon, and scatter (or place evenly) the pecans on top.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden brown.
You can also add dried fruits or more nuts to these bars – whatever you like!
I’m so happy they’ve started selling pumpkin in my local supermarket – I can’t see myself getting sick of pumpkin everything any time soon!
Happy Friday! I’m on holiday today visiting my family, and I am sooo happy to have a three day weekend to relax!
Last weekend, we attended a wedding in nearby town West Bridgford which was a lovely, lovely day! Pictures of the groom as a child during the best man’s speech were a highlight!
I also did a bit of baking and baking prep – I made some protein flapjacks, baked some cobweb cookies ready for Halloween (eek!) and tried to revive my sourdough starter with help from Twitter! Please let me know if you have any sourdough tips in the comments…. I’ve now fed it and it seems to be feeling better, but I’m not really sure where to go from here…
It’s been a delicious week too! I went out for lunch and had a delicious blue cheese, apple and walnut sandwich at Wired Cafe as we sent off one of our lovely workmates on maternity leave – look at these cute Cath Kidston onesies we got her as a parting gift! On Monday I was also lucky enough to have the most delicious dinner made for me by my lovely friend Lucy – veggie lasagne (with spinach), amazing garlic bread, salad and for dessert (!) – ice cream cake, in tribute to the Great British Bake Off! It was unbelievably good – and so easy to make – just a simple chocolate sponge, sandwiched together with a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
The leaves are starting to change here and it’s so so lovely! I went for a run on wednesday evening around the local park and lake, and it was such a perfect evening for a run. I also saw these guys playing ping pong at one of the tables around Nottingham, it’s awesome seeing how people have taken to them.
Kitty update – Milo seems to be tolerating the kittens ever more! On that basis, we’ve decided to keep them, so we’re now a three cat family!
Oh, and this week I made these too… these are the most incredible brownies I’ve ever tasted! They are from an Ina Garten recipe I adapted to also include peanut butter chips and mini marshmallows. They were SO gooey as to be almost underbaked, but that’s how I love them. I’ll share the recipe soon!
What are you doing this weekend?
Why hello and welcome to european week on GBBO! The cakes this week look delicious – I’ve always been intrigued by a princess cake. Sue’s impression of a eurovision presenter is spot on.
As the show goes on, we’re getting to hear more from the bakers as we have more time to get to know them, which is great. I always love this element of the show more.
First up, a european cake of their choice – risen with yeast! Paul explains that baking powder was only invented in the last 200 years which is actually really interesting! Butter and sugar can retard the growth of yeast so it’s a delicate balance to get the rise the bakers need.
Richard explains his plan to wing the ‘finishing’ of his kuglehopf cake to Paul and Mary, who react predictably. Oh, Richard, never wing it!
The cakes are judged, and most of the bakers do really well, with Richard, Chetna and Nancy getting some constructive criticism, and Kate receiving the dreaded ‘your cake is dry’ – gasp! Martha does exceptionally – I can really see her winning this whole thing! Lots of the others still bumbling along in a jolly way but it won’t cut the mustard pretty soon.
This week’s technical challenge is one of Mary’s, and she advises the contestants to read the recipe thoroughly… I’m guessing this is one that people often mess up on! It’s a princess cake!
Andddddddddddd instantly all the contestants are confused and mult-tasking various jobs at once… I foresee disaster. Martha schools us in how to know when you’re sponge batter is whipped for long enough…. HOW does she know all this stuff at 17?! She even measures her sponge to work out how to exactly accurately cut it into three!
Cake assembly begins and the cake is a hive of frantic activity! Kate’s sponge is too warm and the frosting starts to slip off – they all go into the freezer to help them set in time. The fondant goes on, and some of them look reallly bad.
Richard does okay, and Martha and Luis pretty well – their cakes have neat layers. But Kate’s is poor – it’s completely collapsed inside. Nancy’s cake is completely perfect (except it could be a bit greener) … she beams and beams. Kate comes last, of course, followed by Richard, then Martha, then Luis, then Chetna, then Nancy.
There are some very very ambitious cakes going on in the showstopper challenge next. Luis is making a tower of a torte (with a flag on top). Richard’s involves a sugar bird and nest. Martha’s cake has a chessboard on the inside (and outside). Kate’s seems like it will end up looking a bit like a big scary chocolate spider cake. This seems like the most stressful showstopper yet!
Nancy is first to be judged and her two-tier torte receives rave reviews… could she be getting back on track? Richard is next, and although he’s done lots of sugar work, his sponges are dry and his cakes are a bit saggy (and from a builder!).
Luis’s showstopper is AMAZING! It looks brilliant but Mary and Paul have issues with the flavour and sweetness. Interesting. Kate’s torte looks great – just like how she described it would! She doesn’t get completely rave reviews though –
Chetna’s torte looks like a crazed darlek… but has great layers and tastes good! Martha gets good feedback with her chess cake, although Mary refuses to give her points for the chess effect of the cake since she used a mould.
So, who could go home? I don’t have a good feeling for Richard.. .
This week’s star baker is Chetna (for the first time – probably deserved!). So who is going home? NO ONE! But I can see Richard and Chetna (despite a good week this week) going home fairly soon..
Recipes from this week’s episode
- Apple and Cinnamon Kuglehopf
- Orange Savarin with Cinnamon Cream
- Princess Cake (good luck if you decide to make that!)
- Dobos Torte
Great British Bake Off links from around the web
- Bingate repurcussions continue – the Bake-Off received it’s highest ever viewing figures as a result of the hype they whipped up (I’m a pro) over the ‘incident’ and now Diana’s doctor has written a letter condeming the show
- The Daily Mail is reporting that the Bake Off is making us fat(ter) as a nation. But I’m not linking to them
See you next week for pastry week! THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!
I love abandoned places, and these abandoned bakeries are extra cool
Nature can be so colourful! Take a look at these gorgeous pictures of the most colourful places on earth, including some rainbow rocks! The Calpol lake blows my mind a little bit…
Britain has chucked marvellous out of the window – everything is now awesome! Really interesting article about the evolution (and americanisation) of language in the UK
Faking a pregnancy isn’t just reserved for slightly unhinged soap characters and pandas, you can do it too! Some excellent reasons you might consider it are, getting to sit down on the bus and eating dairy milk dipped in peanut butter at your desk without anyone raising an eyebrow
This is a tremendously interesting way to spend fifteen minutes. A new interactive tool has launched which shows how good an area is to live in, taking into account the standard of living, crime rates, standard of schools and many other factors. My adopted homecity doesn’t fare too well – what about where you live? Do you think it’s an accurate representation?
I am baker has made a brownie cookie pie and Amanda, will you marry me? I mean, just look at it! As an aside, what’s your policy on raw egg consumption? I am wholeheartedly for it.
These Pecan Pie Chocolate Brownie Bourbon Bars are a homemade version of one of the best things I ate on my honeymoon! And possibly ever…
When we were in Brooklyn, I made a special trip (on the bus) to Baked in Red Hook just to try their delicious cakes! The journey was a little fraught with difficulty, including waiting on the wrong side of the street for the bus for about twenty minutes, and then getting on a bus that was going the wrong way (amazingly, this one wasn’t my fault – the driver didn’t realise the destination information was incorrect – I realised what was happening and a brooklynite actually thanked me and said she had no idea what was happening!).
But! I got there in the end, and the trip to Baked was oh so worth it! I sampled a Chocolate Cloud cookie, a Chocolate Caramel Shortbread and a Bourbon Pecan Pie Chocolate Bar. Oh my goodness, it was immense. Thick, tall, chewy enough to give your jaw a workout, but soo satisfying. Crunchy pecans, rich chocolate on a shortbread base, and that bourbon kick. I knew I had to recreate it at home.
I found a recipe for pecan pie bars online, but the other chocolate component they had was a thin layer of melted chocolate. I wanted something dense, chocolatey and really indulgent, so I made that into a layer of chocolate brownie! So instead of a simple layer of melted chocolate on top of the shortbread base, I added a layer of bourbon-spiked chocolate brownie batter before topping that with the bourbon-spiked butter pecan mixture. The resulting bars are dense, rich, and chocolatey with a crisp, delicious base, topped with gooey brownie and then a crunch rich pecan layer that becomes almost caramel like in the oven. Oh, and the bourbon? It gives you that alchoholic warmth that comes through after you get the sugary, nuttyness.
Although there are three steps to making these bars, don’t be put off – although, like chocolate caramel shortbread, they’ll come together over the best part of an evening, the time that you’ll actually need to be actively involved is short. And the results? They’re so impressive and oh so worth it!
If you’re ever in Brooklyn, you HAVE to try one of these (and everything else from Baked). You can even get it as a full size chocolate pecan bourbon pie!
- 280g / 2 cups plain flour
- 90g / 2/3 cup icing sugar
- 170g / a stick and a half unsalted butter
- 150g butter
- 150g dark chocolate (at least 65% cocoa solids)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 200g light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- 110g plain flour
- pinch salt
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 3 tbsp bourbon
- 6 tbsp butter
- large pinch salt
- 200g pecans, toasted and barely chopped
- Let's make the base! Preheat your oven to 160C/gas mark 4/350F and prepare a 9 inch by 9 inch brownie pan by greasing it with butter or baking spray.
- Warm your butter in a medium sized mixing bowl until it's very soft, but not melted. Sift in the icing sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved into the butter. Add the flour until you have a crumbly dough and tip it out into your pan. Spread it out into a thin layer with the back of a spoon, spatula or your fingers and then pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until it's turning golden brown. Leave to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the brownie layer! In a large non-stick saucepan, or the microwave, gently melt the butter and chocolate together until liquid. Make sure the mixture isn't too hot (warm/tepid is fine) and then crack in the eggs and beat together with the brown sugar and the vanilla bean paste. Add the flour, stirring gently until incorporated, and then start adding the bourbon to taste... and taste... and taste! Yum! Pour the brownie mix onto the cooled base layer and set aside.
- To make the pecan pie layer, warm the butter in a large bowl in the microwave until it's almost melted, and then stir in the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and eggs. Stir in the pecans and salt, and then add bourbon to taste. Spread gently over the brownie layer, and then bake the whole thing for another 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool overnight before cutting into squares (or triangles)!.
Happy Friday! Why does it always feel so needed and such a long time coming?
This past Saturday I went out to celebrate the hen party (for any American readers, its the UK word for a bachelorette!) of my good friend Emma! It was an awesome day!
We started out with afternoon tea at The Larder in Nottingham. If you’re local you should definitely give it a try.
Then we headed to a private cinema screening of You’ve Got Mail- have you seen it? I forgot how amazingly good it is! I welled up quite a few times, and well, you can’t beat New York in the fall (or any other month!).
After that we went for drinks, followed by more delicious food (does anything taste better than pizza and garlic bread when you’re tipsy?) and drinks! And I was in bed by about midnight – an excellent evening!
This week I’ve been experimenting with a sourdough starter… I thought things were going well but my first attempt at a loaf was disasterous! I’m hoping for better luck this weekend. I have also been munching on tasty nakd bars for a healthier snack at work, and eating lunch at Wired a couple of times this week – the blue cheese, apple and walnut sandwich is delicious!
I *think* that Milo and the kittens are making progress – he’s started rubbing noses with them regularly but he still hisses occasionally, however that’s because they are very cheeky with him! We’re hopeful that we’ll get to keep them!
What are you doing this weekend friends? We’re heading to a wedding, and I’m baking some spooky cookies to share with you soon – as ever, October will be Halloween month around these parts! I can’t wait!
Happy wednesday and happy bake-off day! I’m munching on chocolate porridge and typing furiously! Let’s go!
First up to break the contestants in is a classic tart. Norman is sticking to a safe Tarte au Citron, though Paul cautions him that it needs to be perfect in every way. Martha isn’t confident about making pastry, (not like some older people!) and Nancy is making a chocolate pastry – mmm!
There’s lots of tense standing around in the tent as the contestants watch their tarts in the oven nervously. Richard drinks some of his leftover custard from the jug – I like a man who treats the bake off tent like his own kitchen! Martha’s tart also gets stuck and Nancy helps her out to unstick it – yay for comraderie in the tent!
Paul and Mary scrutinise the tarts, and Paul calls Norman’s tarte ‘a mess’ – he’s chucked icing sugar over it and even though it tastes great, it’s not good enough. Nancy does really well with her passion fruit tart, while Chetna gets some constructive criticism. Kate’s rhubarb and custard tart gets good reviews, while Martha’s tart is a tad underbaked – one of Martha’s first misteps. The judges love Luis’s tart, and the camera pans over to Martha shedding a few tears after her first (very mildly) poor review. Bless!
Educational interlude time – let’s learn about bride pies! These were apparently full of aphrodisacs… including some highly disgusting ones. Blurgh! I think I’ll stick with regular wedding cake.
Technical challenge time! It’s one of Paul’s recipes – mini pear pies. It’s a poached pear surrounded by circles of puff pastry, and it sounds pretty difficult…
They start by making a ruff puff pastry, with lots of folding, turning and rolling. Don’t they know you can get this stuff from the tesco chiller aisle?
Poaching a pear seems to be pretty stressful, and of course, particularly when you’re on the bake-off. None of the contestants are quite sure of the order to do things in… tensions run high as they start to run out of time! But I must say they all look great despite that…. except Norman’s and Richard’s.
It’s the moment of truth, and Norman fares surprisingly well, though his pastry is uncooked. Richard is next, and in addition to his pastry disaster, the pear is undercooked. Chetna does well, as does Kate whose pears are deemed ‘acceptable’ by Mary! Nancy’s and Luis’s are okay, and Martha does really well – hurrah! Her pears are the best.
Showstopper time – it’s a three tiered pie! A bit like a wedding cake I guess but in pie form! They can be sweet or savoury and the pastry must be strong and tasty. An unusual challenge!
The contestants share what they’re up to, and Norman is finally responding to the feedback about needing to take it up a notch to stay in the tent… Hmm. Moment of truth time, and Martha’s pie appears to be leaking its contents (its also HUGE!) while Richard’s are pretty burnt on top. His pie tower topples over causing me to gasp dramatically, ironically Luis reacts less than I do!
Paul and Mary scrutinise the pies, starting with Kate’s – they’re decorate with flowers and look beautiful! And the bake is good! Is Kate turning into a real contender?
Next up is Richard, and his burnt tops don’t go unnoticed. His pies get mixed reviews, with his steak and ale described as stunning by Paul. Chetna goes next – great feedback from Paul!
Luis is next, and his pastry is too thick which has let the bake down, followed by Nancy, whose pies look good but are dry. Interesting that they’ve both done poorly on this challenge after being frontrunners for some long.
Norman is last, and his meringue is undercooked and overpoweringly lavender – y.
Deliberations, then Kate is crowned star baker – well done Kate! She seemed a bit ditzy at first but she’s really proving herself.
Norman goes home, and he definitely did well considering! What a brilliant character though! Richard knows he’s had a lucky escape, hopefully he does better next week.
Recipes from this weeks episode!
- Tropical Manchester Tart
- Rhubarb and Custard Tart
- Mini Pear Pies
- Indian Hot Water Crust Pie
- Rhubarb, prune and apple pork pie
Great British Bake Off links from around the web
- This years GBBO recipe book is now on sale! The Big Book of Baking is only £8 right now
- Paul Hollywood says the response to bincident on Twitter was ‘naughty and rubbish‘ but doesn’t address the editing that caused the issue
See you next week for european cakes – There’s princess cake, bundts, and a ridiculous looking showstopper – yum!
Thank goodness its September now so I can finally stop pretending that I’m even remotely into this summer lark and just get back to jumpers, coats, boots and scarfs and just being (as much as its possible for me to be) stylish in layers. Let’s face it, flip flops can just never be stylish. Never.
I’ve put together a few songs that capture the mood of autumn and oncoming winter (to me, anyhow!). I hope you like them!
I LOVE this lyric in Down Down the Deep River –
“Spin into the center of your hometown, there are leaves in the street, and there are friends around you now. All the days of your life in a line.”
Seeing them perform that live was so AWESOME!
Do you have a favourite song for autumn, or just a favourite song right now?
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