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Baking with a GBBO legend…

So have you heard about Bake With A Legend yet?

If, like me, you’ve been seeing their posts pop up in your social media timelines over the last year or so, then your interest has probably been well-and-truly piqued – just like mine was.

If, however, you are unfamiliar with the concept, allow me to explain:
Basically, a while back, some enterprising fellows realised that there were a great many fans of The Great British Bake Off out there and that they would probably enjoy spending the day learning to bake with some of their favourite bakers from the show. They were not wrong and the Bake With A Legend experience days have been a massive success, with attendees including everyone from corporate team building types right through to parties of friends and hen nights.

Now, as huge fan of baking in all of its forms AND a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off, I knew that the Bake With A Legend experience would be right up my street and so, when I heard that the team were putting together a special one off event, hosted by series seven finalist Jane Beedle, to launch a selection of new packages in partnership with Airbnb, I had to check it out.

Check out my latest video, to see what we got up to:

Being completely honest with you guys, it really was a fantastic day and I loved every single second of it.

Obviously, it was great to see Jane again – not to mention learn from her – but in addition to that, spending the day with an amazing group of like-minded baking fans of all levels of experience and defeating my once-nemesis, choux pastry all ensured that the day was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

I would highly recommend checking out Bake With A Legend if you are a fan of GBBO and I definitely think I’ll be back for another helping of the Bake With A Legend experience!

I must say a massive thank you to Jane and the Bake With A Legend team for having me along for the day and for allowing me film the entire experience to share with you all.

Bake With A Legend hold classes in London, Brighton, Manchester and Bristol, with a whole host of your favourite GBBO alumni. If you would be interested in finding out more about classes with your favourite baker from The Great British Bake Off, then you can visit the Bake With a Legend website right here.

Who knows, I might even see you there… 😉

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#BAKEALONGWITHGBBO: Week 4 – Desserts

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!

x

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#BAKEALONGWITHGBBO: Week 3 – Bread

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!