As the Great British Bake Off returns, our Louise shares a review of the first episode of this new look programme favourite.
**SPOILERS ALERT **
I watched the first episode of my favourite BBC programme with a serious sense of nervousness as Channel 4 took the reins last night… I wanted to hate it, groans of “it’s not the same”, ready on my lips…
However, I was genuinely relieved to see not a lot had changed, despite the new presenters and judges at the helm. The innuendoes were ever-present, the contestants seemed familiar yet new, and the baking standard was impressive to say the least (from most!). For some reason I’d expected a new theme at the opening credits, but I reminded myself it was still the same show, just refreshed. Even the gingham alter still had a part, hooray!
Here are my thoughts – what do you think?
Judges & Presenters – the new line up
I wasn’t expecting a lot from the show, and in particular, the new judges, to be honest. And as you can imagine, Twitter was rife with people mourning the loss of Mel and Sue. One viewer said: "Mel and Sue were like the fun aunties that make family gatherings more entertaining, I miss them so much #gbbo". Someone else wrote: "1 minute in and I feel like I'm cheating on Mary, Mel and Sue. #GBBO2017". I hope the three of them were watching the first of the new shows together, with lots of gin and sponge cake!
I don’t like either Noel Fielding or Sandy Toksvig from previous things they’ve done, but they didn’t repel me half as much as I’d imagine they would. Prue, I’m not convinced about. Some of her comments were a bit, well, “duhh…” I mean, she’s never heard of a cake with no fat or eggs in it? Hello, she’s obviously never tried our vegan cakes! A cookery writer and restaurateur, but with bread-bonkers Paul and two presenters who don’t have anything foodie about them (Noel has refused to eat any cake this series, for goodness sake!), surely we needed a cakey bod as the second judge. She has yet to impress me, but some have hope she’ll reinvent Bake Off… Saying that, I did like the little nods to the history of the show Noel and Sandy did. It brought a bit of cosy nostalgia to the show – hope it continues.
There’s a classic line up of someone who looks like they were put in to have an easy choice for the first loser, a homosexual, a baker with international heritage, an older ‘experienced’ lady, ethnic minority representation and a young one who looks like he’ll win hearts (Liam). I’ve yet to see anyone in a wheelchair… maybe next year.
I don’t think Stacey will last long, personally, having failed in the Showstopper with her cakey handbag, and binned a previous bake, and Yan won’t go far, having forgotten to turn on the oven in last night’s episode… My personal tips for the top, based on a whole three bakes so far, are the two Scousers (Flo – the oldest ever contestant at 71 years old – and Kate), Steven (rightful Star Baker for episode one) and Sophie. These guys have discipline and skill, but in my heart, I have to support the Bristol rep – Go Chris!
My initial reaction to my favourite of the three challenges, the Signature Bake, was “Two whole hours to make a fruity cake?!” Easy peasy, you’d think, but I like to think this is the challenge I’d rise to best of the three. However, some of the contestants clearly needed the time, binning their first efforts.
Julia (from West Sussex, born in Siberia) made a delicious looking Courgette and Lemon Sponge – I’d love that recipe, if she’s reading!! I didn’t catch who made the Bundt, but I thought that was brave, for the first cake. They are enormous and not the easiest to judge when properly cooked. And those who plumped for a sandwich sponge – good call, quick to bake!
The Technical Challenge was one I actually think I could, and will do; this is normally where I’d come unstuck on the show, not knowing what the finished article is supposed to look like or how any specialist ingredients may behave. It reminded me I have a Swiss Roll tin I’ve yet to use, so watch this space!
I did wonder, during the Technical, why it was dark outside? Normally the show is filmed on Saturday and Sundays through the day…
Finally, the Showstopper. The contestants were set the challenge of creating an ‘illusion cake’ – one that didn’t in fact look like a cake at all, and some awesome ideas came forth. Considering it was the ‘toughest first Showstopper’ of a series ever, the bakers didn’t disappoint. I was impressed by the detail on Yan’s ‘Banana-Ramen’, despite my feeling she won’t last many weeks in the tent, wowed by Flo’s watermelon triumph, and double wowed by Steven’s BLT. AMAZING. Prue said exactly what I said (to myself, lonely in my living room – El Husbandio is NOT interested in that show!)… The taste buds would be fooled by what the eye could see. I don’t think I’d like to try the pork pie cake for that reason – ick, too confusing for my veggie pallete! – but Liam’s pancakes were perfect. They’d fool anyone!
Being able to skip the ad breaks is GOLD.
Favourite Quote: When Paul called someone’s chocolate rolls “Chunky Monkeys”.
In the end, the right person was crowned Star Baker and the right person had their oven gloves removed.
The show is said to have given Channel 4 its highest audience since the Paralympic opening ceremony in 2012. Well played, Channel 4, well played, but you still have a way to the 8 million GBBO viewer record set by the Beeb.
I look forward to Biscuit Week next week – I’m sure I’ll be as addicted as every other year by then!
Owner, 280 Bakes
Cake Friday, someone's birthday... there's always a reason for cake at work, but which office cake are you?!
So, the Royal College of Surgeons has warned us off cakes at work. They encourage overeating, tooth decay and are a contributing factor to obesity. Who’d have thought?
“I’m not saying we need to ban such treats. But we do need a change in culture. When people are going out to the shops and buying cake and sweets they should at least consider buying smaller quantities and making them available only with lunch meals” says Professor Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery.
So could the great tradition of the office charity day bake sale, the routine of 'Cake Fridays', and in-office birthday celebrations really be threatened? I doubt it! Cakes have been a pick-me-up in every office I've ever worked in, and everyone enjoys a little treat. Some have more will-power than most, for sure, but everything in moderation, I figure.
In honour of this 'terrifying' announcement from the Docs, we're asking today,
Which office cake are you?
Low Fat, Low Sugar Chocolate Cake
- Rich and velvety smooth
- All your colleagues seem to like you
- Efficient, no indulgent extras, slim line
- A little nutty...
- Better in bite sized portions
- Melts under pressure
A Victoria Sponge
- You have it together, you can be relied upon
- A classic, you've been around a long time
- A fan of fresh raspberries
- You're the one always offering to make the next brew
- A caffeine hit gets you going in the morning
- You start to 'flag' a little around 3pm... time for another strong coffee!
- You're the best dressed in the office
- You enjoy making people smile
- You pay attention to detail
I'm a mixture of Coffee Cake and A Showstopper, I think.
Cake in the office: Does it get much more 'Friday Feeling' than that?!
'Friday Fruit' just doesn't have the same excitement as 'Cake Friday'. Keep eating, cake lovers!
Mention this blog post when you order your next office birthday cake and receive 10% off! Offer ends 31st September 2017.
Louise @ 280 Bakes
Same day delivery applies on request (CakeOD) including the Cherry Cake, a special addition for today's offer. Feel free to order for a date in the future though - you can still cash in on our offer! Vegan and gluten free options are available. Promotion closes 7pm tonight, 23rd August 2017.
Call 07835 882817, email email@example.com or simple use our 'contact' page!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
So, we've baked hundreds of cakes for you guys, but which are our all time favourite orders? Let's find out!
Birthday cakes are regularly ordered by our customers, and these two are our favourite so far. Emma (who's since left our baking team *sad face*) made the Cookie Monster cake, which hit the nail on the head for Steve's 40th - he loved it! The Chicken Cake was baked by Debbie, who was tasked with a poultry theme for a leaving do in Lawrence Weston. Still makes us laugh, when we see this clever, cute cake!
We are known for our home baked cakes, so no 'top cakes' blog would be complete without some of our traditional loaves and rounds appearing. You can't beat a Victoria Sponge for when the family pops over for the afternoon (available on CakeOD, our same day delivery service), and but our award-winning Fairtrade banana cake comes a close second - always popular at our events too, perhaps because it's low fat. What a cake!
As far as cupcakes go, we've done some amazing baking and decorating. Two that really stick in our minds, though, are our marshmallow cupcake and the ones we did themed on Aero chocolate bars. The marshmallow ones were for a customer's 40th birthday. The cakes were a surprise from his colleague and you should have seen his eyes light up - marshmallows are his favourite! The Aero cupcakes were a inspirational bake from Louise last weekend at the Viking Invasion event we went to. They came out particularly well, we think.
Both these cakes were Louise's. She used to dread doing cupcakes, but now has got really into the swing of them - even bought some new nozzles the other week for more design capabilities! Stay tuned to see more photos of her scrumptious cupcakes on our newsletter.
We've a good name for being vegan cake specialists, and, as 65% of our customers are in fact vegan, we aim to please! These two cakes are our best selling vegan cake, all home made of course, from scratch. You won't catch us using a cake mix any time! Here's our no.1 best seller, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (as featured on the Bristol Food Tour), and our vegan Carrot Cake. Just yum!
These are both available for a non-vegan diet too, but why not give them a try? Not only are they 'cruelty free', having no animal products in them, they are consequently better for the environment too!
And finally, let's bring in some gluten free cake to complete our top ten. We often get gluten free requests, from coeliacs and friends of gluten intolerant people, and we can bake vegan gluten free too - skills! These two are Chocolate Hazelnut Cake (as seen on Made In Bristol TV) and, a family favourite, Lemon Cake. And, as a bonus, we offer a low sugar lemon cake, too, if you're trying to cut down.
That's our top ten favourite cakes! What do you think? Would you add anything to the list?
Don't forget, all our cakes are available for standard, vegan and gluten free diets. Just drop us a line to order yours!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
There was a Viking re-enactment event yesterday in Burnham-on-Sea, just down the road from us. We popped down with some bakes, and, it turns out, historical actors lurrrrve cake!
Thanks to the organisers for 'inviking' us along - see you again we hope! Check out some of the photo highlights from the day below: *NEW* Aero cupcake, toffee cake, blackberry cupcakes, Viking buns (couldn't resist these toppers on Amazon!), coffee cake, homemade Blackberry Jam Sponge, and various Vikings and event staff enjoying our cake!
Our Louise, who was at the event, said "It was a great afternoon out - I actually learned a lot about Viking history too! Apparently our Viking buns were historically inaccurate as real Vikings didn't have horned helmets... I just told the customer his stomach wouldn't know the difference and to enjoy his cake!"
Keep your eyes on our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter for news of more events we'll be at this summer. You'll be the first to know!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
This week, 280 Bakes owner Louise is sharing a family favourite: A recipe for Bread Pudding. Why not try it yourself?
Simple is sometimes the best. This recipe for Bread Pudding reminds me of my childhood, when my mum would use up any bread which had gone stale, or the last of the milk. It's full of flavour, moist, good for any meal of the day, and I reckon it's good for you too, full of calcium from the milk and dried fruit. Come on, let me have that one, forget about the sugar this once! (If you can't forget, check out our Skinny Bakes!).
Here's the bread pudding recipe I use - it's worth bookmarking. Try it, enjoy it, and let me see your bakes!
Owner of 280 Bakes
Welcome to the 280 Bakes blog! Most posts are by myself, Louise, but if you fancy guest blogging, give me a shout!