I don’t know if you’ve been keeping track, but this weekend sees all the exhaustive planning, the long LONG journeys to collect pieces, the immense expenses and, of course, all the hard work and generosity of my lovely team finally come together to bring my collaboration project, The Greatest Showpiece to life at a very special event on Sunday.

My cake room is currently buried (literally buried) under boxes of incredible creations and, as I am baking the edible components of this very special cake, right now my kitchen looks like a bomb has gone off in it – and yet, I’ve been sat here thinking, how on earth am I going to squeeze in this week’s #bakealongwithGBBO before next week’s episode.

Dessert week (or pudding week – it seemed rather confused to me at times) saw the bakers return to the tent in sweltering conditions to attempt a signature roulade, a seriously retro technical and – wait for it – spherical chocolate pudding showstoppers, that melt when a hot sauce is poured over them. I’m sure we’ve all seen them before – at least on social media, if not in real life – but in the heat of the tent in a heatwave?!

Now, this retro technical… the bakers were challenged to create a modern take on a traditional blancmange – yes, you read that right… blancmange – whipping up a light and creamy raspberry and almond dessert, served alongside buttery langues de chat biscuits.

If it wasn’t bad enough that the recipe required EIGHT sheets of gelatine to ensure it set adequately – meaning that little vegetarian me can’t even taste it – the Nordic Ware bundt tin required to form the blancmange costs £45.00!!

So, amongst all this self-induced stress, and knee deep in final preparations for my collaboration, I started wondering… Why am I doing this to myself?! I have enough on!

In a twist of fate, this week saw tent baker Terry unable to appear due to illness (which I’m sure is a Bake Off first?) and that got me thinking. Hey, well if Terry can miss a week (and please don’t think for a moment, I am making light of his predicament – I do hope he wasn’t too unwell and has since made a full recovery), then so can I.

And so, for the FIRST TIME EVER since my #bakealongwithGBBO began, I am going to call in. Sorry guys – too busy.

I do hope you’re not too disappointed that you won’t get to see me wrestle with blancmange – who knows, I may well decide to come back to it later in the series – but I’m feeling pretty confident that the reveal of The Greatest Showpiece will more than make up for any lingering regrets.

As I say, the piece itself will be revealed at an event on Sunday, but I’ll be keeping it offline until I have managed to pull together a super awesome video reveal – hopefully, only a day or so later. I have even roped in some of my family to ensure that all of the guests at the event get that message loud and clear… high maintenance? Me? Never!

In the meantime, I thought I’d leave you with a bit of a tease…

Oh, and if YOU have had a go at this week’s technical bake, I’d love to hear (and see) how you got on. Was it nice? And were your family and friends even prepared to try it?

Oh, and just a heads up, I’m also not 100% decided if I’ll be publishing Something Sweet this week either – it will all come down to how quickly I can get all of the Showpiece prep finished. I am but one man!

So, don’t panic if you can’t find it – it will definitely be back the following week!

In the meantime, take it easy – and feel free to wish me luck!


A Weekly Slice of Something Sweet, All Content, Blog

It’s Sunday and it’s time for Something Sweet 31

Happy Sunday once again everyone. It has been another hectic week at Mr Baker’s Blog HQ as we draw ever nearer to the reveal of my oh-so-secretive collaboration project, ‘The Greatest Showpiece’. But panic not, I am still here with your weekly slice of all the latest news from the world of cake!

In this week’s issue, find out how I got on when I tackled bread week’s technical challenge during my third #bakealongwithGBBO challenge, discover which caker was invited to help Roald Dahl’s birthday celebrations get off to a flying start in Cardiff and we also check out some of the winners from last weekend’s Show Me Sweets Edible Art and Cake Competition in St. Louis, Missouri.

In other news, I share a top tip from Dawn Butler of Dinkydoodle Design that is truly life-changing, we revisit Jane’s Patisserie to check out her latest recipe, which is perfect as autumn starts to arrive and we have an utterly gorgeous collaboration!

I also shine my spotlight on Javier Azócar of Luma’s Cake, provide you with a whole host of fabulously gorgeous cakes and bakes to marvel over and enjoy and, of course, we find out who has scooped this week’s Cake of the Week!

Also featuring: Truly Scrumptious Cakes by Design, Cakes by Timbo, Dragons & Daffodils Cakes, Botero Challenge, Chain Lane Cake Co., Little Cherry Cake Company and Cakes by Carol.

Find all this and more in issue 31 of Something Sweet!



Welcome back to another week of #bakealongwithGBBO!

Sticking with tradition, week three brought the return of bread week, with the judges challenging the bakers to create original takes on the classic Chelsea bun, while the technical challenge proved (!!) truly tricky for a number of the bakers. The showstopper brought the return of the traditional Eastern European korovai, a traditional wedding bread that we were originally introduced to by previous host Mel Giedroyc and guest chef Olia Hercules back in 2015.

I say it every year, but I always consider bread week my weakest week during my #bakealongwithGBBO because it is the area of baking that I have the least experience of. As a result, I was thrilled to see that this year’s technical challenge appeared – at least at first glance – to be rather more simple than in recent years.

However, when watching the episode live, I had somehow missed the fact that the bakers were only given a measly hour to whip up their batch of eight non-yeasted naan based on Paul’s recipe – that was clearly where the real challenge lay during this week’s technical.

Luckily, I had the foresight to get all of my ingredients out ready this week, so that managed to save a little time (I could hardly spare a few minutes to go rooting through my baking cupboards hunting for baking powder) and I also decided that I would photograph my progress this week using my phone – I’m less precious about getting doughy hands on that than I am about my beloved camera. As a result, the photos aren’t great – they’re a bit bright and over-exposed, so apologies for that.

One of the most controversial elements of this challenge – at least in the eyes of Twitter – was the fact that many of the bakers (including a certain Mr Hollywood) continually referred to the bake as naan bread – naan actually MEANS ‘bread’, so the male judge and co spent most of the challenge referring to bread bread!

Unlike traditional naan that is leavened with yeast and cooked in a clay oven, this recipe relies on baking powder for its all-important rise and it is cooked under a hot grill, making it possible to have naan in a fraction of the usual cooking time.

I started by mixing the dry ingredients in a large bowl (and as I said back in week one, any hand mixing HAS to be done in my retro Mason Cash bowl), before adding the wet ingredients into a well in the centre.

This was then combined by hand to form the wettest, stickiest dough that I have EVER worked with – which then needed to be kneaded! Thankfully, I have a huge supply of bench scrapers at my disposal, otherwise I don’t know how I would have coped. I did end up with about three of them glued to my hand at one point though!

Once this was smooth, it was left to rest and it was time to turn my attention to the garlic ghee – a combination of melted butter and fresh garlic that would be used to brush the bread once it was grilled.

To make this, we were instructed to melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat so that it is only just bubbling for 20 minutes, which is intended to give the ghee its nutty flavour and golden colour. We also had to regularly skim the foam off of the surface.

Once complete, this was then passed through a square of muslin (which I had luckily just washed after last week’s spinach shenanigans) and then mixed with fresh garlic.

After that, it was time to split the dough into eight and shape and roll these into teardrop shapes. This was easier said than done with such a soft dough and this is probably the weakest part of my bake this week – I wasn’t able achieve the true uniformity that both Prue and Paul rate so highly, but they look pretty naan-ish to me.

The shaped breads are then grilled on a piping-hot heavy baking sheet for approximately two minutes and to ensure that I achieved the perfect bake (well, grill) I watched them closely. I also cheated a bit by turning them briefly to ensure that both sides achieved the bubbling and dark spots essential to the perfect naan. Some of the bakers in the tent also did this too though, so I figured that that was ok.

Once grilled to perfection, the naan were brushed with the garlic ghee (ouch, my fingertips!) and then scattered with fresh coriander.

I must confess that I am part of the 10-20 percent of the global population for whom coriander tastes like soap and, as a result, I simply cannot stand it. However, as I always say, my #bakealongwithGBBO must follow the rules exactly, so I did scatter mine with coriander – but as soon as I had taken my photos, I scraped it straight back off to try my non-yeasted naan.

I have to say, I was very surprised by how good the texture was of this unorthodox take on the traditional recipe and they tasted really nice (coriander notwithstanding). I may well be prepared to have another bash at these, next time I am whipping up my favourite vegetarian curry.

All in all, this wasn’t the worst technical challenge I have undertaken and I actually enjoyed the fact that it was so quick. In can sometimes be tricky to squeeze in my weekly ‘bakealonging’ so the fact that this one only took an hour was a very welcome ‘easy’ week after a couple of very complicated bakes.

Next week, the bakers in the tent and I will be facing Desserts Week and the preview has teased that, during the technical challenge, we’ll be doing something involving moulds – looks like I’ll be going shopping!

If you want to follow my ongoing #bakealongwithGBBO adventures, then don’t forget to hit the subscribe button (on the right if on desktop or at the bottom of the page if on mobile) before you go – you will also need to hit confirm in the email that I send you.

Oh, and if you fancy having a go at Paul’s non-yeasted naan, I have added the recipe link to my recipes page – click the tab above. Don’t forget to let me know how you get on…

Happy Baking!