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.

Nielsen-Massey have been confirmed as headline sponsor for The Cake and Bake Show

The Cake and Bake Show is back and this year Nielsen-Massey will be headline sponsor for their London show, from 3rd – 5th October at Earls Court.

The event is a must for any cake or bake lover with so many delectable bakes on display. The show received more than 30,000 visitors last year and has everything from baking demos, to cake decorating, plus of course some tasty treats and baking kits for visitors to purchase.

It’s also a fabulous chance to see some of the star speakers such as Eric Lanlard, Rosemary Shrager, Simon Rimmer, The Fabulous Baker Bros and Rachel Khoo.

If that has tickled your taste buds, they’re also offering £10 tickets (usually £14.50) until 14th July. Just follow the link and pop in discount code BM10 to claim.

http://cakeandbakelondon.seetickets.com/event/the-cake-bake-show/earls-court/771454

A Passion for Pâtisserie – Ten Top Tips from Master Pâtissiers William & Suzue Curley

Pâtisserie is what brought us together; it is what drove us to open our first shop in 2004 and it brings joy and happiness to our lives and, we hope, to our customers. As pâtissiers and chocolatiers, we feel that we have a duty to pass on the skills of our craft to the next generation and we take great pride in being able to provide the inspiration to do so.

Our main focus is, of course, to arouse and surprise the taste buds. A pleasure that we hope we can, in some way, bring to everyone, through the recipes in our new book Pâtisserie.  Through Pâtisserie we hope to prove once and for all that creating beautiful pâtisserie in the home kitchen is both achievable and hugely satisfying.

Here are our top tips for creating flawless pâtisserie at home:

1. When using butter in cakes in, allow it to come to room temperature, it will more easily become light and fluffy.

2. When adding eggs to any mixture, ensure you add them slowly, to prevent the mixture separating.

3. When melting chocolate, melt over a water Bain-Marie, with the water hot, but not boiling, as the chocolate will burn if it gets too hot.

4. When preparing pastry, it is important to let the pastry rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. This will prevent the pastry shrinking or changing shape upon baking.

5. A good set of digital scales is well worth the investment as precision is essential for successful baking.

6. Sieving dry ingredients is important, thus breaking up any lumps that have formed, when using baking powder it is advisable to sieve with the dry ingredients twice.

7. When whipping cream, insure you have a dry cool bowl, it may worth popping your bowl in the fridge in advance to keep it cool until you need it.

8. I love my chocolate, always pick good quality chocolate, but try use the flavour characteristics to match the flavour of dish/cake you are making.

9. Recipes can be adapted to suit different shapes and sizes of moulds and tins, you don’t always have to buy new equipment when you make something new.

10. Always shop around for good quality ingredients, ideally in season.

Happy baking!

William & Suzue Curley

frontcover

Pâtisserie by William & Suzue Curley is available to buy online and in all good bookshops now. The book is published by Jacqui Small www.jacquismall.com.

More information on the William Curley boutiques can be found here: www.williamcurley.com

A venture into bread baking by Dan

My 4 year old son is taking an increasing interest in what goes on in the kitchen, and I have been struggling with how to encourage this. I’m not the most confident person in the kitchen and my general clumsiness plus lots of sharp and/or hot things didn’t seem like the best mix with curious fingers. And then it hit me…. Let’s bake some bread! So a chair was fetched from the dining room, a bowl, jug and some scales were assembled and off we went.

Baking bread has everything that my little lad is interested in. First of all we used the scales and called out the numbers as they got close to the target. I like to weigh out all the ingredients, even the water as I find I get better results that way. When we poured the flour into a big bowl, he loved running some through his fingers and studying the ‘bits’ (We were using Allinson Country Grain), asking what they were. He also had a go at rubbing the butter into a little flour, but decided that he didn’t want to help with the mixing as it was all ‘a bit sticky’. I tend to rub the butter and mix with only one hand and that really came into its own on this occasion as the inevitable call for a cup of juice could be answered with the clean hand so I didn’t hand my son a doughy cup!

By the time the cup was empty it was time to knead. After a minute of watching, my son wanted to have a go so I broke of a small chunk for him to push about on the worktop. Of course it ended up on the floor, with much giggling about how it went ‘Splat’ so he wanted some more, but after 3 or 4 small balls the dough was ready to rest. We split what was left into balls and put the towel over it together. After an hour building train track he was amazed how it changed and then he kept coming back to the kitchen peering through the oven door (reminding me of a cleaning job I’ve been putting off!) to see how the shape and colour changed in the oven.

As kids do, he then moved on to the next exciting thing to do (usually lego, or turning sofa cushions into a den) but I’m pretty sure that when I pointed out later, that he had helped make the roll he was eating, it made his lunch taste that little bit better. It certainly did for me!

Eurovision baking by Katie

Katie

You make call it fickle, but give me a quirky or fun event outside of the norm and I’m racing to get on board. They’re exciting, creative and can be very inspiring.

Given this, Eurovision is the word on my lips spoken with excitement at least twice an hour (to the horror of the rest of the BakingMad.com team), and I think a little mention on the BakingMad.com blog is long overdue.

‘What has Eurovision got to do with baking?’ I hear you say. Only everything!

It doesn’t have to be just about watching a fantastic and engaging programme that unites the EU; it’s an opportunity to learn about other cultures and, most importantly, their food!

At BakingMad.com headquarters we’re asking the office to get their Euro-bake on by hosting a little continental sweepstake. The names of all the countries involved in Eurovision are folded and placed in a draw, the team blind pick a country, then we bake/cook something that represents our pick. Easy.

We can’t wait to share our recipes and photographs on Facebook with you, but until then we’re encouraging you to Euro-bake and would love to hear from you with your recipes and pictures!

Check out the links below for a little inspiration.

Will your bakes be more inspiring than the BakingMad.com team’s? Challenge accepted!

Greece:     Spanakopita                http://www.bakingmad.com/spanakopita-recipe/

Italy:          Olive Focaccia             http://www.bakingmad.com/olive-focaccia-recipe/

Germany:  Lebkuchen                  http://www.bakingmad.com/lebkuchen-recipe/

Spain:        Tarta de Santiago       http://www.bakingmad.com/tarta-de-santiago-recipe/