Monthly Archives: September 2015

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