It's NationaL Baking Week! From 14-20th October, the nation shall celebrate/Bake/Eat cake (even more)!
This week is great. I am not going to pretend it's 'just another week of...' national campaign. Baking is fab, and we should celebrate it!
1. Home baked cake tastes AMAZING.
2. Baking makes your house smell DIVINE.
3. It's a form of therapy (for me, at least!)
4. Baking is creative - sprinkle, shape, flavour away!
5. It can be experimental - why not try something new?
6. And above all, baking makes other people happy - when you share!
So what do I personally plan to do to celebrate this diary date?
1. I am going to give 2020's Bake Off the benefit of the doubt and try an episode or two. I don't like Matt Lucas in many things, but a friend assures me he's not in it that much really, so I may survive an episode! I watched last year, but I felt a bit 'over it' to be honest... life just feels weird without it!
2. I'm going to be baking for you guys, of course! This week I have already got some cupcakes, a birthday cake, and a carrot cake booked in, with more orders sure to follow. Most orders come in with around 3-5 days notice, but take note, I can often do next day, so don't despair if you've forgotten someone special!
3. I'm going to be practising my Halloween cake themes - stay tuned for the first photos from tomorrow!
4. Friday I'm off to a pumpkin patch with friends, so I may well be baking my first pumpkin pie. National Baking Week doesn't have to be just about cake! If you have any fail-safe recipes for this, do send them over...
Do you have any exciting baking plans for this week? Let me know in the comments below!
We're loving 2018 Great British Bake Off, and We love a challenge!
Week One: BISCUIT WEEK
Traditionally the first week is Cake Week, but this year it went biscuity. The signature bake challenge was to bake a batch of a 'regional biscuits', so Louise baked Bristol Biscuits.
These raisin and cinnamon biscuits need cassia oil, which was ordered from Health4All if you need your own supply. Make sure you get the edible version and not the massage oil!!
Cassia oil has a lot of health benefits, apparently, including being an aid to circulation, an anti-depressant, and something which supposedly helps with diarrhoea and sickness. Essentially, it's a Chinese cinnamon oil, distilled from the steaming of the leaves and bark.
The biscuits were easy to make (recipe available here), but it was quite a wet mix, not great for shaped cookies. The biscuit fingers came out best. They are soft, not a crunchy biscuit, quite like a light shortbread. Bristol Biscuits are also called 'Easter Biscuits' so Louise made them extra Easter-like by drizzling some green icing on top.
As for the taste, they're just like a cinnamon biscuit, but without the colouration the powdered spice can bring. Louise says "I'm glad I've finally be able to bake them - living in Bristol, if felt like I really had to sometime!"
Week Two: CAKE WEEK
Our favourite week! This week saw traybakes feature as a signature challenge. Louise has baked a cherry tray bake, and made it a little fancier. They're named 'Patricia's', after her Grandma, who loved cherry cake.
Don't they look delicate?
Week Three: BREAD WEEK
Always a good week in the tent, this series saw a signature bake of Chelsea Buns. Criticism from the judges on the show were things like 'over baked', 'under proved' and 'not enough filling'... Louise says she sympathises with all of these!
Her first ever attempt at Chelsea Buns wasn't bad at all, but she rolled the dough too thick so they took longer to bake, the dough didn't rise when proving, and Louise ran out of currants - but saved it with some cherries, yay!
What do you think?
Week Five: SPICE WEEK
Spice week's signature bake was a ginger cake.
"This one was a lot of fun," says Louise, "and I love a spiced cake! My hand slipped on the cinnamon, but the cake wasn't any worse for it." She admits the photo's not great - tiredness and being sick of cleaning up sloppy buttercream to blame! - but you get the idea. The cake was moist and sticky, definitely one we're adding to our repertoire at 280 Bakes.
Bake the cake Louise did by following this recipe - with or without the extra cinnamon! Louise doubled the recipe to make a three sponge tower, and made the caramel buttercream a toffee flavour instead - warning, it was a bit sloppy. Top tip is to make the buttercream as thick as possible but still spreadable to get defined butercream filling and tidier outside decoration (butercream and crumbed ginger biscuits).
Week Six: PASTRY WEEK
Now, this was always going to be interesting. Louise has never (!!) made pastry before, and certainly not filo pastry. The veggie samosa recipe from BBC Good Food looked good, so she went with that one... Delicious, but definitely not fine filo pastry!
Batch two, Louise used shop-bought filo for apple pie samosas. Trading the raisins for super seed mix (chia, etc.), they were a great pudding last night. You can see the difference in pastry!
"I'll be much more likely to make my own shortcrust pastry in the future now, having seen how easy that type can be," says Louise, "but I'm definitely still going to buy ready-made filo!"
Week Seven: VEGAN WEEK
We've been hoping for a vegan GBBO week since we've been in business - yay! Louise said her heart sank a little when the signature bake was pastry for the second week in a row, but she rose to the challenge of baking a vegan shortcrust pie.
This is a recipe from Coconut and Berries, a "Cheesy" Leak and Broccoli Pie. "I left out the arrowroot," says Louise "as I couldn't get any in time, and added some garlic onion granules for extra flavour. It was so yum, I love the creamed cashews!".
Week Eight: DANISH WEEK
Rye Bread - that was the signature bake this week. Louise says her bread never proves properly so this was always going to be a bit of a dodgy bake! The bread tasted good, but the open sandwich could have been more posh, compared to the ones on the show... Love a bit of jam! Here's Louise having brunch in her sunny garden.
Week Nine: PATTISERIE WEEK
"I don't have a Madeline tin so this one is on hold for the time being!" ~ Louise
Week Ten: THE FINAL!!!
Mmmm… Doughnuts! Stay tuned to see how Louise got on with making doughnuts from scratch!
Did you try any of the signature bakes from this year's Bake Off? We'd love to hear about how you got on!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
Today's blog is a personal blog from our owner, Louise Vargas. She's sharing with us a bake enjoys making, inspired by Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya's bake from 2015. Fancy a go yourself?
Baking, baking, baking. I'm going mad for it. Not only have I bought myself a posh new cake stand and a croissant cutting rolling pin, I now own a bundt tin. And what do I blame? The Great British Bake Off. The fantastic TV show gripped the country yet again this year, with a well deserved winner in Sophie.
Frankly, I love the Bake Off. And so do 9 million other people
Two years ago, the (now) nation's sweetheart contestant Nadiya baked something I needed to try: the icing pattern bake (I'm calling it).
The technique Nadiya used to pattern her sponge couldn't be simpler. Draw a pattern in icing on a sheet of baking paper (the more decorative the better), and freeze it in a tray bake or roasting tin. It doesn't take long.
Don't prod it when it comes out the freezer - it'll warm up and smudge.
Now comes the bake. Pour your cake mixture into the tray (I just used a simple tray bake recipe) and bake as normal.
When the cake it taken out of the oven, carefully turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and peel off the grease proof paper. Voila, your pattern is etched onto the sponge. I was amazed how clearly is came out, no smudging and the icing didn't grow or shrink in the temperature change.
I cut the sponge into 3cm (ish) squares and made a sandwich with them using a plain sponge (same recipe) and a honey mascarpone cream filling. Delish! They really were tasty ... I felt quite sick once the bake had finished, I ate so many off-cuts and smears of icing!
See below - my 'mini Nadiya cakes' are displayed on my new cake stand with a friend's brownies. Who's hungry?!
With hindsight, the pretty little pattern I made wasn't very visible once I'd cut the sponge sandwich into small(er) bites. I should have gone for larger slices - the leaves and swirls would work better as a tablet bake.
Thanks to Nadiya for her inspiration - check out more of our Bake Off inspired blogs here - the perfect lunch time read!
Louise, 280 Bakes
... Push her down a hill. Sorry, bad joke!
Especially since it's National Baking Week. Louise made her first Swiss Roll, and honestly, won't stop talking about it, so we let her blog about it. Maybe it's out of her system now?!
Doesn't it look just yummy?!
I filled my Swiss Roll with double cream and raspberry jam - a perfect compliment to the chocolate sponge. You could also do a classic vanilla sponge with jam, and I imagine one with desiccated coconut and jam would be a total delight. Might try that next time!
Honestly, making this cake didn't take as long as I imagined, it was easier and more fun than I thought it would be too. Why not have a go yourself?
Owner, 280 Bakes
National Baking Week kicked off today, and it's been trending on Twitter all day. Here are the top eight hashtags you should be following this week to join in the fun!
#ambaking - real time baking activities - we use this hashtag a lot when we're in the kitchen.
#BakingPorn - follow this one for when you need a fix but don't need the calories.
#NationalBakingWeek - see the cakey festivities from around the Twitterverse!
#BakingAddict - for the love of baking, and some top photos too.
#Cake - a bit obvious, maybe, but it's by far and away the most used hashtag in the Twitter baking world - great for browsing and inspiration.
#BakingQueen - top cake bakers and their adventures in flour.
#GBBOTwitterBakeAlong - see what bakers around the UK fare, copying the challenges on that week's Great British Bake Off episode - addictived Twittering, right here, by The Baking Nanna!
#BakingFails - just for giggles!
These are pretty active hashtags, it'll keep you occupied all evening!
Twitter analysis engine Rite Tag recommends...
Top Tip for Twitter Baking Hashtag Action:
Does 280 Bakes have any hashtags?
Check out ...
#team280 for news on the team and things we achieve together.
#280skinny to follow what's happening with our low fat and low sugar cakes.
#280spooked has a Halloween theme...
And don't forget #CakeOD for our same day delivery service.
Let us know if we've missed any decent ones and we'll add them to our list!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
As the Great British Bake Off returns, our Louise shares a review of the first episode of this new look programme favourite.
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
Welcome to the 280 Bakes blog! Most posts are by myself, Louise, but if you fancy guest blogging, give me a shout!
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