Richard Burr – All about Great British Bake Off

Guest blogger, 2014 Great British Bake Off finalist, Richard Burr reminisces about last year’s final, reveals his favourite baker and shares what he has been up to over the last 12 months. Grab a cup of tea and put your feet up it’s a great read…

richard signing books

“With this year’s Bake Off final fast approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about my time on the show and looking back on the year I’ve had since. It’s been terrific and I still have to pinch myself when I think of everything that’s happened. I’ve written a weekly blog for the past year at, which has acted as a bit of a diary for me to keep track of everything I’ve been up to.

gorilla cake From making cakes for gorillas at London Zoo to meeting heroes like David Tennant to writing my own recipe book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, and having it published, it’s been a mad but an entirely positive experience. If anyone is even considering applying for the Great British Bake Off I’d say to jump in feet first – you have nothing to lose and so much potential fun to have.

One of the most special things for me has been meeting the 11 fellow bakers from my series. We are all really close. The first day we met, we set up a Whatsapp group and ever since, we’ve been in touch on a daily basis and meet up as often as possible. I’m catching up with Iain, Chetna and Luis tomorrow in fact! To find out more about what everyone has been up to, on Sunday 4 October on BBC1 is the Bake Off Class of 2014 programme. They took us back to the tent to interview us about the year we’ve each had, which made us all very nostalgic. It felt great to be back at the magnificent Welford Park.

2014 contestants

Writing my recipe book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, was a massive high for me. I was pretty green about the process and it was a steep learning curve, but I reckon it turned out pretty good! As a builder, I’m used to spending most winters out in the cold – digging foundations, fixing roofs, unblocking drains, etc. This was the first winter in about 15 years where instead of freezing my fingers off I was shacked-up in my warm kitchen writing, testing and developing my favourite recipes. My book covers many different baking techniques but grades each recipe for difficulty as level 1, 2 or 3. This means there’s something for everyone; from people who have never made a Victoria sponge before to those who are keen to try their hand at entremets. I’m really proud of the book and I worked with a great team at Quadrille to produce it. We shot the book at my house in February and March of this year, which meant that I could use my own oven to prepare all the food featured. It became a real family affair, with both my daughters and loads of my building materials featured in B.I.Y. The styling and photography are really original and complemented my recipes perfectly.

GBBO tent I wondered whether it would feel weird watching a new batch of bakers in the tent this year; all rattling around with my pots and pans, but I’ve loved it. This series has shown that the popularity of the Great British Bake Off is unlikely to wane any time soon, with viewing figures consistently high. I’ve watched the series really closely as I’ve been reviewing it for the Radio Times so I’ve seen every episode at least three times. It makes me feel like I’ve got to know the bakers very well and I’ve been in touch with most of them on Twitter too. Stu and Ian even made it along to my B.I.Y. book launch party. Frances, Kimberley and Ruby – the Bake Off finalists from 2013 – were really generous with their advice to me in the lead up to my final last year and it’s been good to pay that forward to this year’s semi-finalists. I was so nervous in the run up to the final being aired last year as there was such a weight of expectation on my shoulders after winning Star Baker five times. I didn’t want people to feel I’d let them down. Thankfully, even though everything that followed has been quite unpredictable, people have been so warm. No one ever comes up to you and says “I hated you on the Bake Off”. It’s not that sort of a show.

Paul Hollywood In this series of the Great British Bake Off, I’ve particularly enjoyed the humour of Sandy and Mat, the level headedness of Paul, Ian’s delicate and unusual flavours and pretty much everything Nadiya has made! She’s been my favourite from early on and I really hope to see her in the final. Some of the challenges this year have been extremely difficult. For example, the Religieuse a L’ancienne showstoppers in the quarter finals looked almost as complicated as what we faced in our finals. Quite a few of the technical bakes this year have been things that none of the contestants have heard of. On the positive side, this puts them all on an even keel in making them. However, it’s often meant that for viewers at home, we’re not quite sure how they’re supposed to turn out either, and therefore whether the bakers are getting it wrong! I am very excited about what we’re going to see from the bakers in the final stages and I think they’ve got even more up their sleeves to wow us. If you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have, put your money where your mouth is and apply for the next series. I promise you won’t regret it!”


Richard’s new book, “B-I-Y Bake It Yourself” is available for purchase now and if you would like a sneak peek at one of his delicious recipes, head over to his Blackcurrant Macarons recipe on by clicking here.

Luis Troyano Q&A

Luis With the latest series of Great British Bake Off in full swing and the nation going bonkers for baguettes, biscotti and Berry (Mary Berry that is) we caught up with last year’s finalist Luis Troyano to find out about life after GBBO…

What inspired you to apply for The Great British Bake Off?

I thought it would be fun and a change from my everyday life. To be honest, I never ever expected to walk into the tent and actually take part. The first day there was really surreal, almost dream like. I learnt so much from the experience, it was simply amazing and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is considering taking part.

What were Paul and Mary like to work with?

Their knowledge in all things baking is simply mind-blowing. I often thought there were hidden cameras as I couldn’t get my head around how they knew what we had done without actually seeing us do it. They were a real pleasure to get to know and work with. The key was listening to their feedback and taking it on-board.

What was your most embarrassing moment during GBBO?

Definitely self-saucing puddings. I knew I had a dodgy recipe and I’ll never forget Paul just staring at me whilst dribbling the horrible thin sauce off a spoon in front of me. I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.

Were there any bloopers that happened in the bake off tent that didn’t make the final cut?

Lots! I remember the semi-final in particular. Nancy had made a really thin chocolate ganache and was pouring it over some cakes. It was also pouring all over her bench, down the sides, all over the floor. We were absolutely wetting ourselves. I actually went over to help catch it some of it.

What was your favourite moment of the bake off experience?

I have so many fond memories. But if had to choose just one, bread week. Paul Hollywood said he had never tasted anything like my rye rolls and shook my hand. I was blown away.

luis book If you could summarise your bake off journey in 3 words what would they be?

Terrifying. Fun. Friendships.

What do you love most about baking?

I love baking. It ticks so many boxes for me. I love the chemistry and experimentation, the creativity and the opportunity to be artistic. Most of all though it’s the perfect thing to give family and friends, it always makes them smile.

What is your all-time favourite type of cake/pastry?

Definitely a Bakewell tart! It’s my absolute favourite and the recipe is firmly memorised. Crisp thin short crust pastry, almond and lemon frangipane topped off with a thick layer of fondant icing. Magic. There’s so many disciplines covered in making one that I think it taught me how to bake.

What is your favourite ingredient to work with and why?

I suppose it would have to be flour. The possibilities of what you can make are endless, in-fact it’s mind boggling when you think about it. It’s such a core staple of baking that changed the world. There’s nothing better than handling perfect bread dough, so so satisfying.

We love your new book ‘Bake it Yourself’. What is your favourite recipe from it?

Wow that’s a really difficult question. If I was looking at it sentimentally, I would choose my mum’s Spanish Roscos de Anis. They are a deep fried doughnut, nothing like our traditional version. They are heavily flavoured with aniseed and extra virgin olive oil and are my earliest memory of baking as a child. If I was to choose one of my own recipes it would have to be a tart, probably the raspberry, pistachio and white chocolate one.

What is your fail-safe recipe that you turn to when you need a last minute bake?

Definitely my Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes. I have probably made thousands of these by now. Quick and easy to make, incredibly moist and taste delicious. They are topped off with a layer of Amaretto icing and look great too.

We love baking hacks at what are your top 3 baking tips?

Firstly I always leave a little tab sticking out on the non-stick paper disc under a tart; you can then just grab it and slide the tart off. Secondly, test your oven temperature with an oven thermometer; you will be surprised how out it can be. Thirdly, when making bread, always make the dough the day before and prove it in the fridge for up to 24 hours, it really does make for a better end result.

Tell us a bit about your bee keeping? Do you use the honey a lot in your baking?

I’m very lucky to have a constant supply of honey on hand so yes I use it lots. In fact there’s a whole chapter of recipes dedicated to it in my book. Beekeeping is the most amazing hobby; they really are fascinating creatures and a complete joy to keep. I find it really relaxing when I go out to inspect the hives and you just forget everything else going on around you.

What have you been up to since Great British Bake Off?

Wow, where do I start? My life has been turned upside down in the most amazing way. I gave up my old day job and now focus on baking activities. I was very privileged to get the opportunity to write my own recipe book so that took quite a lot of time to do. The book is called Bake It Great and is published by Pavilion. I also hold afternoon teas at the Farmers Arms in my home village of Poynton on a regular basis, I make all the cakes. I have a really full diary teaching people how to bake at Seasoned Cookery School and Cheshire Cookery School as well as working at many of the food festivals around the country this summer and autumn. You can view my schedule of where I’ll be on my website,
Long term, I would love to have my own bakery, something I’m currently investigating.

Thanks so much to Luis for the great answers, we can’t wait to try more recipes from ‘Bake It Yourself’(Published by Pavilion. Photography by Clare Winfield)

Luis has kindly shared his Carrot and Cardamom cake, Raspberry, Pistachio and White Chocolate tart and our favourite, Bakewell Tart – check them out on

Behind the scenes with Juliet Sear

camera We are so excited to take you all behind the scenes for a sneaky peak of our recent video shoot with Juliet Sear. Juliet kindly shared four recipes from her brand new book, Cakeology (available in all good book stores) and we cannot wait to share the finished videos with you.

We love the buzz of a video shoot; cameras, lights and microphones at the ready, the aroma of different smells floating around the kitchen and watching a baking pro first hand showing just how simple decorating cakes can be.

dog The first recipe of the day was adorable woodland creature cupcakes, which in our opinion were almost as cute as Juliet’s dog, Dougie who was patiently catching some rays in the garden whilst we were all busy in the kitchen.

Juliet also effortlessly produced two showstopper cakes; a stunning three tier ombre cake, which features on the front cover of her Cakeology book, and a vibrant piñata cake filled to the brim with every sweet imaginable. (Confession: there wasn’t too many sweet left by the end of the shoot.)group

We picked up some great tips from Juliet during the filming, our favourites being that it’s all about the wiggle (someone better tell Megan Trainor) when piping your piñata cake and that air-bubbles are the enemy…we won’t spoil anymore for you, so make sure you watch the videos.

The recipes were so straightforward; we left the shoot planning to recreate the piñata cake for an upcoming birthday party.

For the final recipe, Christmas fever took over the kitchen, despite the glorious sunshine outside but more to come on that later in the year…Ok, here is a sneaky photo to tickle your taste buds. snowman

It was so much fun shooting with Juliet and we cannot recommend her book enough, so what are you waiting for grab your copy of Cakeology now!

Also why not follow Juliet’s blog on her new website here


How to make pinwheel decorations

pinwheelWe have recently added a brand new summery sandcastle cake recipe to which is decorated in bright vibrant pinwheels. These are super simple to make so why not give it a try following our step by step guide.

1. Roll out x2 small (50g) balls of coloured flower paste icing

2. Roll out the yellow icing into a 4mm thick square. Split the pink icing and roll half of it into a 2mm thick square. Slice the pink square into thin strips.

3. Space the pink strips on the yellow icing approximately 10mm apart. Secure in place with boiled water. Roll out the remaining pink icing to a similar sized square and fix to the back of the yellow icing with water.

4. Gently roll over the top of the icing and trim into a 3 inch square. Cut diagonal lines towards the centre of the square.
pinwheel 1

5. Fold over each corner securing in place in the centre with edible glue or royal icing.

6. Stick a small ball of icing in the centre to hold the icing in place.

7. Use edible glue or royal icing to secure a flattened straw to the back of the pinwheel.

8. Leave to dry.pinwheel 1-4

S’more campfire cone

campfire coneWe have already shared with you earlier this week our campfire cupcakes and we couldn’t wait to show you our delicious campfire cones. Think soft and sticky marshmallows, summer fruits covered in melted chocolate and encased in a sweet crisp ice cream cone and that is exactly what our S’more campfire cones are.

They couldn’t be simpler to make either, just grab a pack of cones (Askey’s waffle cones work particularly well for this) and begin to fill the insides with as many yummy treats as you can get your hands on. Broken up chunks of chocolate bars and mini marshmallows are perfect as they will melt and coat all the other ingredients.

campfire step by step Once your cones are filled, wrap them up in tin foil and throw on to the campfire (or pop in the oven on a low heat for 5 minutes if your inside!) Carefully remove from the fire after 3-4 minutes using heatproof utensils and peel off the tin foil coating to reveal the most indulgent gooey filling and enjoy!

Camping will never be the same again once you have tried this hack!

Campfire cupcakes

campfire cupcakeThe school holidays are here and the sun has got it’s hat on (well, some of the time) so we are heading out to enjoy ‘The Great Outdoors’ Whether it is music festivals, trips to the seaside, camping jaunts or simply just sunbathing in the garden with a BBQ you can add a little creativity (and cake) to your day.

Camping is a great childhood memory for many people, from Brownie and Scout camps toasting marshmallows on the campfire to family holidays. We wanted to capture all the fun memories of camping with a few kid-friendly baking ideas. The first, being our yummy chocolate campfire cupcakes (try saying that really quickly!)

We used a really simple classic chocolate cupcake recipe to bake our cupcakes. They only take 20 minutes to bake too, meaning that you won’t have to have your oven on too long, adding extra heat to your kitchen.

Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled the fun really begins. Whip up a basic vanilla buttercream by simply blending icing sugar, softened butter and vanilla extract, then colour orange to create the flames on your cupcake. A good quality food colour gel will give a really vibrant colour to your buttercream, however, if you cannot find any gel, liquid food colouring will also work. As orange is not one of the common primary colours that are sold in supermarkets you could create the desired colour by blending yellow and red food colourings. Add the food colouring in small amounts until you reach the colour you want. You might also find it easier add the yellow first then making it darker with drops of red. When stirring the colouring into the buttercream, only partially stir in to create a flame coloured effect.

Using a star nozzle in a piping bag held vertically, quickly pipe a small amount buttercream randomly across the top of your cake to create the flames. Then crush up some flake or grate some chocolate and carefully stick to the buttercream flames to create the firewood.

All that is left to do now is pack up the cupcakes for your camping trip!

The Scoop with Eric Lanlard

RED VELVET ERICWe caught up with master patissier, Eric Lanlard recently to get the ‘scoop’ and chat all things ice cream in celebration of National Ice Cream month.

Most of us have fond childhood memories of enjoying an ice cream in the sun, what has your favourite ice cream experience been?
It has to be visiting the ice cream parlour in Harrods. Simply the best combination & presentation, if you visit skip lunch and have ice cream!

What would you say your favourite ice-cream flavour is?
It’s got to be chocolate & “proper” pistachio (not the green one!)

How do you like to eat your ice cream – by itself or dressing up a dessert?
Hot French apple tart and vanilla ice cream is such a great combination.

We know that you love experimenting with different flavours, what’s the most inventive ice cream that you have created?
My Red Velvet ice cream! Ice-cream made with cream cheese and cream and big chunk of broken up red velvet sponge folded in … Red Velvet heaven!! red velvet ice cream

To watch how to make Eric’s Red Velvet Ice Cream click here.

Are you a one scoop or two man?
Always Two!

Do you prefer a cone or a pot?
Cone, a proper good quality waffle one is the best.

vanilla ice creamWhat is your top tip to creating the ultimate ice-cream?
As ever I believe it is all about using the best ingredients. A good long gentle churning is essential to and will make a huge difference to the outcome of your ice cream, so invest in a good machine.

To check out Eric’s Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Ice Cream recipe click here. There is also a great ‘how to’ video, found here.

Game, set, match

tennis racket Wimbledon is here and we know what we will be munching on over the next few weeks along with strawberries and cream (obviously) these delicious tennis ball cupcakes.

I used a basic vanilla cupcake recipe and gave it an alternative twist by swapping out the vanilla extract with a teaspoon of Nielsen-Massey lemon extract (one of my favourite flavourings at the moment) The lemon flavour gives the cupcakes a real summery flavour and if that wasn’t enough they were made even zestier with a hidden teaspoon of lemon curd in the centre.

Recipe ingredients lemon curd

For the cupcakes:
115g butter (softened)
115g Billington’s golden caster sugar
2 eggs
115g Allinson self raising flour
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey lemon extract

For the filling:
Lemon curd sugar paste

For the buttercream:
80g butter
160g icing sugar
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract

Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I used a sharp knife to carve out a hole in the centre of the cupcake, this was then filled with a generous spoonful of lemon curd and the topped with the sponge that had been removed. To seal the sponge back in place a small amount of buttercream (I used vanilla, however, lemon flavoured buttercream would also work) was spread over the top. tennis cupcakes

I then thinly rolled out some yellow sugar paste and using a small circular cutter, stamped out 12 circles (enough for each cupcake) These became the tennis ball decoration.

Finishing touches were added by piping white icing on top.

And serve…. (no tennis pun intended!)

Lets get recycling!

watering can It’s National Recycling Week so we have been getting resourceful and recycling our unwanted kitchen junk into quirky household objects. Who knew our rubbish could be so useful??

We began with a simple milk carton. If like us, you get through carton after carton of milk per month, you are going to love this brilliant recycling hack. Summer is full swing now and our garden is full of a collection of vibrant flowers that need regular watering to maintain. If you don’t have a garden hose, constantly refilling your watering can sometimes become a bit of a chore, so why not transform your use milk cartons into additional watering cans, saving fewer trips back to the tap for refills?

Simply use a metal skewer to poke holes in the lid of your milk carton, give the bottle a few washes to get rid of any leftover milk and away you go.

askeys box Messy kitchen? Endless rolls of tin foil, cling film or baking paper? We have the solution, re-use old cardboard packaging – this Askeys ice cream cone box is the perfect size to hold 3 rolls. To beautify your tidy box, use up left over scraps of wrapping paper to decorate, or alternatively why not use pages from an old retro recipe book to cover your box to give it a lovely vintage theme.

ROSEWe get through a lot of eggs when baking so finding an alternative use for all our empty egg boxes seemed essential with this project. We managed to come up with two really useful solutions for both inside and outside the home.

Making sugar paste roses can be a fiddly and delicate process so the last thing you want to do is squash your beautiful creations. Why not store them in an empty egg carton until you are ready to decorate to keep their shape.

plantFrom sugar paste roses to homegrown roses – get green fingered and plant some seedings in your egg carton, the ideal size to start nurturing your little plants.

We would love to hear your recycling hacks – please share with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Happy Father’s Day!

“You only have one Dad…” (Lorna Slack)

“My husband is the best Dad…he has a giving nature and all the patience in the world” (Cate Burgon)

“He will always be my hero and hold a special place in my heart” (Jackie Heaton)

These comments from our Facebook members, show just how important Dads are to us all and why they should be celebrated this weekend on Father’s Day.

We have some fun and exciting recipes designed just for Dad so why don’t you check these out for some baking gift inspiration. Click here for Father’s Day recipes.

Here are a few of our favourites:

fathers day cake



cupcakes 2

cupcakes 3

cupcakes 4