Frightfully good fun

Frankenstein pop It’s October, the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in earlier. That can only mean one thing….Halloween is on its way. Whether you are a fan of guts and gore or tend to lead more towards a ‘Casper the friendly ghost’ type of celebration, Halloween can be fun for the whole family.

We think these spook-tacular Halloween pops are a great way to get everyone involved this year. Depending on how much time you have, you could opt for either the simple Frankenstein marshmallow pops or push the boat out with the Pumpkin and Ghost cake pops. We had some leftover cupcakes from a recent bake session which worked perfectly to make up our cake pops so gave these a try first.

A brilliant, kid-friendly task would be to get hands on and crumble the cakes up into a large bowl. Next add the buttercream and mix together until it begins to form a big ball, then it’s time to roll up those sleeves and get stuck in again rolling your cake pops. A good tip is to use an ice cream scoop to get an even sized ball each time – if you don’t have one of these to hand though don’t worry, you can always use a teaspoon. Cake pops stand

It’s important to leave your cake balls to chill in the fridge and firm up. This will make them much easier to stay in shape when you dip them in the chocolate coating.

There are many brands of coloured chocolate that you can use, such as Candy Melts and these can often be found in cake and craft stores. Be careful not to overheat them though as they can become congealed and difficult to work with. A handy tip if this happens is to drizzle a very small amount of oil into the chocolate to loosen it up again. Decorating cake pop

Sometimes the trickiest thing when making cake pops is to find somewhere to dry them. I used an empty, fairly shallow cardboard box and punched small holes in it using my leftover cake pops sticks. Make sure that the holes are at least an inch apart as cake pops like to lean a little when drying and you don’t want them to stick together.

Once dry, the fun part can begin…decorating. You can be as creative as you like and if you go wrong, don’t worry simply eat the cake pop and no-one will ever know!!

If you don’t have any spare cake to make the cake pops you can dip marshmallows and follow the process in exactly the same way. This works perfectly for the freakish Frankenstein pops and tastes just as yummy. Pumpkin pops

So what are you waiting for? Gather together your little ghosts and ghouls and get creative with our Halloween treats.

To try our BakingMad.com recipes click here.

Happy Halloween!!!

Bye bye bake off

So the Great British Bake Off came to an end last week (sob sob) and what a fabulous series it has been. Our emotions have been up and down more often that Luis peering into his oven – we have had the fresh young face of Martha, who taught that age is just a number, right through to good old Norman, who taught us that lavender and meringue should never appear together in a dessert!!

There was drama and scandal with the infamous ‘bin gate’ which we are sure will go down in Great British Bake Off history, as well a triumph as Richard smashed the ‘star baker’ record. But above all that, how amazing was the standard of baking this year?? The final three bakers fully deserved their places after their consistent performances throughout the show. The creativity expressed by some of the bakers was purely remarkable – who could forget Luis’ 3D dragon, Richard’s polka dot Entremets and Nancy’s exquisite mini jaffa orange cakes in the very first week.

We also loved the ingenious kitchen gadgets the contestants had brought along – who would have thought of cutting small cakes evenly with a guillotine?

Prinsesstarta The show has also sparked many a debate in the BakingMad.com HQ and I am sure across the nation, such as the pronunciation of ‘Bak-lava (or was it ‘Baklaaaaava’?) and how acceptable is the ‘oops I’ve dropped it’ 3 second rule when serving a dropped cake on the show.

You can’t deny the personalities this year were great as were the cakes and bakes. My personal favourite were the creative Swiss rolls in week one and the Prinsesstårta ‘Swedish Princess Cake’ technical challenge that Mary set. The cakes looked almost too beautiful to eat and we just simply had to have a go at our own showstopper version. Give our recipe a try here.

GBBO 2014 It was great to catch up with the Great British Bake Off contestants of new and old at the Cake and Bake show a few weeks ago and cannot wait to hear what they get up to following on from the show. We are off to start our countdown to next series …

You can try our showstopper swiss roll recipe here

Behind the scenes with Eric Lanlard

Sam clapper clapper lou

We were really excited to go behind the scenes this month with Eric Lanlard whilst he was filming some yummy new ‘How to’ videos for us.

All attempts of any summer holiday diets went out of the window when we saw what was on the cards for this shoot; Comté cheese and ham savoury muffins, heirloom tomato tatin, cinnamon and banana flapjacks, pain au chocolate, salted caramel jumbo macaroons, red velvet ice cream, the list goes on…

As ever, Eric was full of beans and super excited to get ‘Baking Mad.’ The smells that were coming from the kitchen were so amazing it was times like this that we wish our ‘how to’ videos had smell-o-vision to share with you.

tomato tart

It was difficult to decide what our favourite dish was as every time we tried something new our minds were changed. The dishes looked really impressive when finished and were so simple to make. The heirloom tomato tatin was definitely top of our list of must-try recipes when we get back to our kitchen. Fresh tomatoes, wholegrain mustard, pastry…what more could you want for an alfresco summer lunch or a weekend treat?

We also enjoyed the perfect pain au chocolat. Although a lot of effort is required to make the wonderfully buttery flaky pastry you will be glad you have given it a try when you enjoy the indulgent gooey chocolate centre, still warm from the oven. Perfect with a nice hot drink – they were so moreish the crew were fighting each other for the last one.

eric shot

As you can imagine not everything runs smoothly on a video shoot – having to contend with low flying airplanes, builders drilling in the streets outside and the odd mix up of words is par for the course and today was no different with plenty of footage for the blooper reel.

In between takes we particularly enjoyed taking turns to work the clapper board. ’Action!’ We even added little dance moves to each one to keep the baking mad energy going.

bobbi

After a fun, yet tiring day (even Bobbi had to have little power nap) we were so full of delicious cakes we practically had to roll home.

The new videos are now available in our ‘How to’ section so pop over and give them a watch. We hope that you enjoy them as much as we did filming them.

Here are a selection of the videos

Cinnamon and banana flapjack

Upside-heirloom-tomato-tatin

Raspberry Paris brest

Happy Baking!

food shot food shot 2 food shot 3
food shot 3

The Cake and Bake show rolls into London

Earls court

Almost the weekend and what better way to celebrate than a visit to the Cake and Bake show in Earls Court to eat my body weight in yummy cupcakes, brownies and bread! Good job I wore my stretchy jeans!

NM bottle As soon as I entered I was in awe of the gigantic Nielsen-Massey (headline sponsors) bottle on display in the foyer – I wish I had a handbag big enough to bring that home with me. Think of all the cupcakes you could make with that.

There was a whole variety of fascinating stands offering all things baking ranging from tools and ingredients to the baked delights of cookies, marshmallows, fudge – even a gormet sausage rolls and pies stand! I know what I am having for dinner tonight…

I made a beeline for the Nielsen-Massey emporium (it would be rude not to) which was beautifully filled with stunning arrays of lemon and orange trees, orchids and roses representing their range of delicious extracts. Visitors were taken on a journey to discover the many scents and flavours available. I particularly enjoyed the individual scent tests – peppermint was my favourite as it reminded me of Christmas.

NM Emporium nm emporium 2 NM EMPORIUM 3

bakeface2 After discovering Nielsen-Massey, I headed over to the Billington’s stand to share my #bakeface. There was a super fun photo booth set up inviting visitors to try a Billington’s brownie or cookie and take crazy photos of their #bakeface with their friends and family. I must say I got a little distracted with the wind machine when mine was taken (rabbit in headlights springs to mine) but it was a great momento of the day to take away.

The demonstration stages were brimming full of talented chefs and bakers that would appeal to all; Eric Landlard, John Whaite, Frances Quinn and Simon Rimmer just to name a few.

unicorn One of my highlights had to be the outrageously fabulous (and slightly bonkers) cake on display of Queen Mary Berry riding on a majestical unicorn – if you are visiting the show over the weekend this is a must!

Another great show from the Cake and Bake team and it is only the first day. If you have tickets for the weekend get there early and take advantage of all the great activities – and don’t forget to share your #bakeface to be in the chance to win a fantastic prize.

Happy Baking!!

bakeface

Here comes the bride

As a BakingMad.com bride-to-be, the thought of having a go at baking my own wedding cake both excited me and terrified me at the same time. I originally thought “so much to do, so little time” and had visions of me on the morning of my wedding adding final touches to my cake with rollers in my hair! Naked wedding cake

I have felt much more at ease though since I went behind the scenes of our latest BakingMad.com ‘how to’ video shoot with Juliet Sear. Juliet, is renowned for her gloriously stunning specialist wedding cakes available at her Fancy Nancy shop and throughout the shoot showed us some simple and beautiful decorating tips that I cannot wait to put in to practice.

The showstopper for me though was the three tier naked wedding cake that Juliet created. The tiered triple layered sponge cakes, filled with vanilla bean and strawberry and raspberry buttercream and decorated with fresh seasonal berries looked so picture perfect that I couldn’t believe just how simple it was to construct. Juliet piping

Juliet shared great tips on how layer the cakes, pipe the filling and securely stack with dowels. I particularly loved the tip to ensure an even flat cake when the sponge has baked into a dome shape in the oven. By removing the cake from the tin, then placing a thick small cake drum in the base and returning the cake inside, the sponge was then lifted above the level of the top of the tin allowing a knife to trim the excess sponge using the tin as a guide – this left me wondering why did I not think of this before?

Despite having fallen in love with the idea of a naked wedding cake, I then was swayed once more when I saw Juliet’s royal icing and buttercream piping skills. She showed us how to pipe buttercream ruffles and roses, an amazing royal icing floral lace effect and how to create realistic sugar paste roses. Now I am completely spoilt for choice with inspiring cake ideas for my big day. Lace cake

If you are looking to make a showstopper celebration, anniversary or wedding cake then all of these videos are a great place to start. Juliet really makes the unimaginable achievable – I am already planning to marry off other members of the BakingMad.com team just so that I can try out all of these cakes!

All of Juliet videos are available to watch in our how to sections or via these links.

How to make a naked wedding cake
How to decorate a wedding cake
How to decorate a cake with a buttercream effect
How to make sugar paste roses

An ice cream baked in the oven?

Baked alaska web

There are many great baking partnerships that go hand in hand -Paul and Mary, bread and butter, jam and sponge … I have always considered ice cream and ovens to not be one of these! Yet the Baked Alaska is a classic dish adored by masses?? So, I set myself the challenge to create a Baked Alaska showstopper dessert.

I think there must be a tiny part of every baker attempting this dessert that holds their breath and squats by the oven ‘Great British Bake Off style’ watching for any sign of ice cream leaking through when baking. It just doesn’t seem logical that an ice cream can bake in the oven without melting, but if you follow these foolproof steps I assure you it does!

You can make the Baked Alaska as simple or complex as you like – make your own ice cream, use shop bought, bake you own sponge or use premade flan bases. If you want to make a real showstopper try mix and matching different flavoured ice cream and sponges too.

Ice cream moulds

I chose to make my own vanilla ice cream, using vanilla bean paste which gave the most delicious rich vanilla flavour and had gorgeous vanilla flecks running through it. I filled this in small pudding moulds (you can also use ramekins) and left to freeze.

Once solid, I carved out a dip in the centre (sneaking a cheeky teaspoon of the leftover ice cream for myself – obviously for tasting purposes!) I filled the hole with a teaspoon of raspberry jam, covered in cling film and popped back in the freezer. The beauty of this is that it can be made days in advance saving you time.

egg whites egg whites 2I then made the meringue using a super clean bowl (this is important in order to achieve the best meringue) and added a touch of cream of tartar to stiffen it up. Using a pastry cutter I cut out circles of sponge, the same size as my ice cream moulds and began to assemble.

Work quickly to assemble your pudding as you don’t want your ice cream to begin melting before being baked, I learn this the hard way with one of mine. I was really generous with the meringue coating and made sure that it was spread right to the bottom meeting the baking tray and covering the base, sealing in the ice cream.

I then baked the meringues, sitting with my nose pushed against the oven door and my fingers crossed. They came out …. perfect!

baked alaska out of oven

I went for the more rustic approach with my meringue but you could pipe it on for a most spectacular showstopper.

So there you have it. Ice cream and ovens can work together and boy did the results taste yummy!!!

Try this Baked Alaska recipe for yourself here.

Bread glorious bread

Who doesn’t love fresh homemade bread? The smell! The taste! The happy feeling when you enjoy the first warm bite smothered in creamy butter…. mmmm!! So imagine our delight when we discovered Lets Cook’s super-sized loaf tins.

‘Lets Cook’ handcraft a selection of non-stick bread tins which range in size from the standard 2lb tins increasing up to the super large 5lb loaf tins, ideal for big farmhouse and extra large loaves, similar to the kind that you would find in a traditional bakery.

Loaf tins

I simply couldn’t resist the thought of a jumbo loaf of bread so I decided to give the 3lb and 4lb loaf tins a try.

Finding a recipe big enough to suit these tins proved to be a bit of mission so a little bit of a trial and error experimenting might be necessary for you to find what works best for you and your oven.

That didn’t stop me though as I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck into channelling my inner Paul Hollywood. In hindsight, on a warm August afternoon, I may have been smarter using a dough hook than working up a sweat kneading by hand!! (Phew!)

When the dough was ready, I lightly oiled the tins, popped the dough inside and left to prove whilst I slipped away to put my feet up for a bit!

Bread dough bread prove

As the tins were deeper than a standard 2lb tin I had to jiggle around a few of the oven shelves to accommodate them, but once in, the loaves baked beautifully – crusty on the outside and delightfully soft on the inside.

I particularly loved the easy release of these tins, the loaf simply tipped out – no coaxing with various random kitchen utensils required. I was also impressed with sharp neat corners that these tins gave my loaves, forming the perfect slice of bread.

baked bread

These tins are so versatile you could even use them for baking pies or as a mould for terrines or ice creams. If you would like to purchase them, please follow the links below. They are currently on promotion until 30th September.

For the 3LB Traditional Farmhouse Loaf Tin, Heavy Duty Non-Stick, Hand made: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00CD0IUA2

For the Extra Large Loaf Tin 4lb+ capacity, Heavy Duty Ideal for Farmhouse & Large Loaves: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B009QZH3JQ

For the Super Large Loaf Tin 5lb+ capacity, Heavy Duty Ideal for Big Farmhouse & XL Large Loaves: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00I5MEIMQ

Five lucky winner can also get their hands on a set of these tins by entering this month’s BakingMad.com competition so what are you waiting for…enter now and get you bake on!

Great British Bickies

Crunchy, chewy, jammy or dunkers you can’t deny that us Brits love a good biscuit with a brew. With the Great British Bake Off contestants tackling biscuit creations in the big white tent this week, it got us thinking at BakingMad.com what our favourite bickies are?

Everyone has a childhood favourite and in my opinion you can’t beat a retro classic, in particular the Bourbon. Delicious chocolate biscuits sandwiching a rich and sweet chocolate filling….mmm, what more could you want?

So I whipped out my apron and set about creating my own handmade classics. The dough was really simple to make and used a blend of unrefined golden caster and light muscovado sugar to give a rich chocolate flavour and a soft chewy texture.

With the dough chilled in the fridge, I rolled and cut into rectangles and used a skewer to mark the traditional Bourbon design. A good tip is to keep the biscuits pushed together on the baking tray so that they remain uniformed when baked.

Bourbon dough

Back in the fridge they went to chill for a little longer. In my opinion the longer you chill them the better as when baked this will prevent the frustration of your biscuits spreading and mis-shaping.

These little gems only took 25 minutes to bake, which was just as well as the delicious smell coming from the oven was proving difficult to resist!

Bourbon cooling

I left them to cool whilst I made the filling. The inclusion of custard powder and unrefined golden icing sugar gave the chocolate filling an extra chocolate caramel twist. As delicious as this is, it is important not to get too carried away with the amount that you pipe on to your biscuits. Nobody wants a Bourbon with filling oozing out of the sides!

Due to the moisture from the filling, it is best to eat these biscuits within 2 days of baking, otherwise they may become too soft…not a problem with these ones though as they were soon gobbled up by the BakingMad.com team.

Join the Great British Bake Off contestants and have your own biscuit bake off with this yummy recipe:

http://www.bakingmad.com/bourbon-biscuits-recipe/

Happy Baking!

Finished biscuits

Great British Bake Off recipes 2014 – BakingMad.com

The Great British Bake Off is back!

We are all giddy with excitement in the BakingMad.com offices that The Great British Bake Off is back! Find out how to replicate the recipes from the 2014 Great British Bake Off series, from cakes to bread, from showstoppers to technical challenges – let BakingMad.com guide you through them all. We are also here for support to stop you getting that dreaded soggy bottom, so check out our ‘How to’ video section as well as our FAQ’s and tips for extra support.

Throughout GBBO, we will be adding recipes here for you to try. We are told that tonight’s episode is all about the Great British cake, including cherry cake and a Swiss roll. So here are a few of recipes to get you started.

http://www.bakingmad.com/cherry-cake-recipe/

http://www.bakingmad.com/cherry-cakes-recipe/

http://www.bakingmad.com/cherry-and-pistachio-cake-recipe/

http://www.bakingmad.com/jam-filled-swiss-roll-recipe/

http://www.bakingmad.com/chocolate-and-vanilla-swiss-roll-recipe/

Our Rosemary Shrager road trip

We were very excited to receive a personal invitation from Rosemary Shrager to visit her delightful cookery school. Nestled in the adorable Lower Pantiles, in Royal Tunbridge Wells her school is set in a beautiful three storey Regency building. Rosemary also has her elegant ‘Shrager’s Patisserie’ just across the square, with display windows filled with the most delicate pastries and cakes imaginable.

Rosemary’s infectious personality and passion for food was evident as we were taken on a guided tour. Unlike other cookery schools, this one has two very distinct functions; a shiny, high tech professional kitchen and a warm, chic domestic kitchen. We were particularly in awe of the array of state of the art baking kit pristinely sat waiting to be used!!

Rosemary has filled her cookery school with a fantastic team of skilled chefs and we were privileged enough to have a Chef’s Table prepared for us by Executive Chef, John Rogers.

The six course menu was indulgent and innovative, not to mention truly delicious!!!!! Each dish had been personally created just for us and was inspired by Billington’s unrefined sugar; from the wheaten bread starter, the refreshing halibut with cucumber and cheeky hints of mojito, right through to smoked duck with carrot and orange.

As we are of course baking mad, our favourite dish of the day had to be the dessert; a deconstructed Black Forest pudding, consisting a beautiful array of cherry and chocolate components.

Pudding

The layout of the Chef’s table allowed us to watch each dish being cooked, assembled and meant that we could interact with John as well. He had used ingredients in such inspiring ways that we were just bursting to get back to our kitchen to try out what we had learnt.
Rosemary was the perfect host and we had a wonderful day out exploring her cookery school and tasting the great food on offer.

The cookery school is taking 2014 bookings for Chef Table experiences, One Day, Half Day and Masterclass courses. Further information can be found on www.rosemaryshrager.com

Rosemary will be appearing at the Cake & Bake Show 3-5 October at London’s Earls Court.