The Hungry Dog...

...Recently there has been a flurry of activity on Twitter surrounding this lovely little box of joy. John Whaite recently released his new book which is full of great recipes, he also finished his time studying at Le Cordon Bleu (JEALOUS!) and has now moved on to something new...


The Hungry Dog is his new baby. Each chocolate is created by hand by John himself, packaged up and sent off to those lucky enough to succeed in "the hunt".

Each box contains 8 beautiful chocolates with their own delicious flavours. 20 boxes are sold each week, making them a truly special gift....Or a really naughty treat!

The website itself describes the experience best...

"This is a chocolate shop like no other. Every week just 20 boxes of 8 assorted chocolates are made. No more and no less. When the chocolates are ready the shop opens. Once the 20 boxes are gone, the hunt begins again a week later. 
To get a box you have to channel the hungry dog. Be driven by that desire and hunt the best. "

On bank holiday monday after a long day at work, I decided it was time to open the box and cover my face in glorious chocolate.
First out of the box was this little beauty...
I've been waiting for this single chocolate since John originally announced his new venture...The passion fruit frolic!
Biting through the dark belgian chocolate shell to find a passion fruit infused white chocolate ganache...

The noises coming from me were all kinds of wrong! but so so right!

Then onto the Forbidden Fruit..

"A beautiful pink strip on a 53.8% finest Belgian dark, hand moulded shell represents the simplicity and beauty of a Japanese cherry blossom tree. Inside though, lies a black cherry ganache, using that same dark chocolate and a 100% fruit black cherry purée." 

I love the thought behind all of the descriptions. They really make you feel like you are on an adventure...Hunting down the best of the best!

The Hazelnut Elixir... "For those who love a a nutty, caramel indulgence, and of course, gold." Who doesn't love gold!? 

The Black Dog. Dark chocolate, Guinness and blackcurrant..What more do you need to know! My tongue tingled after every flavour hit it. So scrummy!

The STP (Sticky Toffee Pudding).

"A chocolate truffle like no other. Inside this 53.8% finest Belgian dark chocolate, hand dipped truffle lies an intense mixture of Billingtons unrefined dark muscovado sugar, butter, dried dates and 33.6% finest Belgian milk chocolate. 
A chocolate to fulfil the deepest, darkest desires. For those who relish the dark, treacly tones of dark muscovado sugar. "

Its like reading food porn! 50 shades of chocolate!

Merrick the Shepherd. This little chocolate really carries the ethos of The Hungry Dog..The description tells you more..

"Inside this hand dipped 53.8% finest Belgian dark chocolate shell, awaits a water ganache using that same dark chocolate, laced with cinnamon and a delicate hint of Monkey Shoulder whisky. 
This is named after the Shepherd in the ethos and origin story, and the silver stars are to wish his soul well, wherever it may lie; hopefully in a field of sheep beneath a starry sky, accompanied by his trusty dog. 
This is the chocolate for those who aren't afraid of the heat of whisky and cinnamon. "

The Plain Jane was an unexpected treat! No cream is used to make the ganache so the chocolate flavour is pure. I wasn't expecting the core to be so fluid but it was heavenly! I had to take a picture of it before shoving it in my gob.

And last but by no means least...The LMP (Lemon Meringue Pie)

This is one for those who love lemons...The thought of it 2 days on makes my mouth water. The perfect balance of sweet and sour.

I had planned on having one chocolate each day to extend the enjoyment...But that went out of the window on first bite!

I would seriously recommend trying a box if you like chocolate (and if you can get your hands on one). 

This weeks box is a little different...

This week only 10 boxes will be made. Limited edition white and gold boxes will be sent out containing limited edition salted caramels.
They go on sale at 8pm tonight (Wednesday the 7th) and will be signed by the man himself, John Whaite.

Get on over to The Hungry Dog early and keep refreshing the page for your chance to complete the hunt.

Trust me! you won't regret it for a second!

Well Done John! Now hurry up and organise some more blogger days! Chocolate creation please...!


Bread...a baffling thing...

...the next bake on my list was bread! now rather than following the technical challenge of the GBBO i felt i needed to do something much simpler.

i have never tried to make bread before but have always wanted to give it ago.

my first attempt was a successful failure. the bread itself was baked perfectly and the flavour was amazing BUT the ruddy thing stuck to the paper... i blame Paul Hollywood as it was one of his recipes and he didn't tell me to grease the paper...rude!

so this time i decided to stick to the baker that i knew would give full instructions *cough*

i went for John Whaite's "perfection in a plain loaf" recipe.

for this you will need:

500g strong white flour
10g salt
20g sugar
10g fast action yeast
100ml milk
240ml tepid water
40g unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil

start by mixing the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl.

next add the yeast and mix it through...

as this was my second attempt at bread i decided to use my mixer with a dough attachment. (follow your mixers instructions if also planning on using the dough hook as it does say a maximum speed)

stir together the milk, water and butter in a jug and then turn on the mixer to the required speed. slowly add the liquid and allow the mixer to knead the dough for 6 minutes.

place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with cling film, place to one side to rise for one hour or until doubled in size. (or if you are lucky like me, shove it in the oven with the prove function on..who knew it had that! not me!)

as you can see, after an hour it is a beast! tip it out and knock the dough back (this delates it so don't worry if it looses some of its beastliness!)

roll the dough into a sausage shape the size of the loaf tin you own. i only had 2 small tins so split the dough in half at this point...i made a bit of a mess also...

cover the tin(s) with cling film and set aside until doubled in size once again. 

Preheat the oven to 200ºc/Gas 6. once the dough is risen pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tipped out and tapped on the bottom.

and there you have it, a lovely white loaf!

what ever you do, do not ask me any questions about i really have no idea! its baffling!

Multi bake day part 3...the final chapter...

so the weather didn't stop and my room/blogger den has been like a sauna, i haven't even really wanted to enter it to sleep!

its gone slightly cooler tonight though so i stole the fan from downstairs and have plonked it in front of myself to get this lovely little post done!

the final part of my day with the lovely bloggers...oh..and John of course haha!

the workshop itself is situated in greenwich, about a 10 minute walk from Cutty Sark station. as you peer out of the front door to the building you are greeted with an amazing view of the Thames, the O2 and the city.

anyway! back to the backing!

we removed the pastry from the fridge and rolled it out again but because it was so hot outside we had to take drastic action and shove it in the freezer for a little while, this helped firm the butter back up which allowed us to carry on with the final roll.

for the final roll rather than using flour we used golden caster sugar. this is what gave the palmiers the sweetness and also helped to make them golden when baking.

once we had all rolled out our individual pastry john came round with a sharp knife and chopped off any uneven edges, i squirmed at this, having a very vivid flash back to the bake off!

He's coming to get you!

after we had all been trimmed, we folded the pastry in half length ways and then flattened it back out again, this gave us a guide for folding.
we then folded the edges over and repeated until both sides met in the middle.
after slicing them with a sharp knife we placed them on a baking tray and popped them in the oven.

i was very impressed with how they came out! beautifully golden and puffed up yet keeping the glorious shape.

they tasted beautiful, the buttery pastry and the sweetness of the golden sugar was perfect. i have to say i think i prefer the savoury variety but i am more of a savoury person (even if i do bake a lot of sweet stuff!!!)

this really brings an end to a brilliant day, it was the most fun i have had in a long time and it was so nice to meet new people that had similar interests. i went feeling quite nervous but came out feeling extremely confident and ready to give lots of new bakes i had previously been scared to try a go!

John has something about him that really made the experience, he was so down to earth and a genuinely nice guy!

he kindly personalised his book for me and presented us all with some goodie bags...

the bags contained 2 types of vanilla (paste and extract), 4 flavouring extracts (Lemon + Almond extract, Rose + Orange Blossom water) and 4 types of sugar (dark muscovado, light muscovado, golden caster and golden icing). the bag also had a le creuset bake wear guide and a signed recipe.
i was not expecting this kind of generosity, although i did have my eye on one of the mixers...*cough cough*

finally here are the rest of the questions i asked John during the Q+A:

me: What are your favourite flavour combinations?

John: That's too tricky a question. My flavour combination always depends on my mood, but I've just done a recipe for a fig, 
stilton and quince pizza which really is delicious.

me: If you were to be stranded on a tropical island which was equipped with a fully functioning kitchen, what one item would you take with you from your own and why?

John: My KitchenAid - I can beat, mix and knead with one machine. But I'd have to be able to fashion a baking sheet from some scrap metal.

me: Other than writing the second book, what are you currently working on?

John: I'm currently on a six month break from Le Cordon Bleu so that I am able to concentrate on the second book. But I'm also doing baking classes in Greenwich, and bits of TV work here and there.

me: Cronut or Dosant?

John: Cronut sounds better. 

me:You mentioned that you are on break from Le Cordon Bleu, How are you finding the experience and what exactly are you doing there?

John: Le Cordon Bleu is fabulously French. We learn the fundamental French techniques of Patisserie and Baking, and then we can apply those to our own experiments and our own baking. It is intense and heavy going, but I really do love it.

me: People often talk about the science behind baking but i prefer to think of it as "the magic of baking". Are there any books that you recommend to get a real understanding of the art other than the usual recipe books?

John: The best books that I use are: Ratio by Michael Rhulman, and On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.

me: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

John: Hopefully having written a good number of cook books, and with a successful patisserie. Touch wood.

me: What can you tell us about The Great British bake off application process?

John: It's long, intense, nerve wracking. There are a number of stages, from phone calls, to interviews, and even a Psycho analysis!

me: Do you require a personal assistant/food taster? as I would be willing to do this for free...haha

John: HAHA. You'd get sick of my bossiness! 

I'd like to give John a massive round of applause for not only giving a great class and teaching us all something, but also for coping with a group of questioning bloggers. 

thank you so much for making it a brilliant day John and i look forward to booking more classes with you in the future.

a list of Johns classes can be found here. i would highly recommend them to anyone who is interested in baking, at any level! i plan on booking to go to the christmas ginger bread house workshop! sounds amazing!

as i mentioned before i will be going over each recipe in detail on the blog over the next few weeks. 

i hope you have enjoyed reading!


Multi bake day...part two...

where was i....ah yes!


so next we moved onto the macaroons! for health and safety reasons John prepped the italian meringue and divided it up between the class.

we started off with ground almonds and icing sugar which had been blitzed together in a food processor.

we then added the italian meringue and began to fold the ingredients together(the french call this macaronage). one of the tips given by John was that folding ingredients doesn't have to be a slow process, its actually better if you are quick. once the ingredients came together we added the colouring of our choice. i tried to go for orange to match the top of the blog, but sadly it turned out more peach than orange!
we then continued to fold until the mixture fell of the spatula like "magma".

we then popped it into a piping bag and snipped off the end.

after piping out blobs of the mixture we went crazy and slammed the sheet down on the unit a few times! (this helps remove any large air pockets within the meringue..we didn't do it because we were drunk...although i did giggle..) next you dip your finger in a little water and push down any points that may of formed from the piping..or as John said.."Are you going to come over here and tweek your nipples?"...i had heard he had a wicked sense of humour but i didn't realise it was almost identical to my own.

they took roughly 12 minutes in the oven, opening the oven rapidly every 4 minutes to release some of the heat.

once they were done we removed them from the oven and allowed them to cool. mean while we put together a buttercream and flavoured it to our liking, i decided to go for orange blossom and it was very tasty!

a tip John gave me for butter cream was to use the K beater on a free standing mixer to bring the icing sugar and butter together, and then to switch to the whisk attachment to really whip the icing! i will have to give this a go when i make a birthday cake on thursday.

once the macaroons had cooled we peeled the paper away from them and placed them in pairs, matching the size and shape.

we then piped a small amount of butter cream onto one half of the macaroons and then gently sandwiched them together!

this was the one item i was most nervous about, they are notoriously difficult to make and i have never attempted them before. thankfully they turned out really well and i was so pleased with them!

there is something highly satisfying about making macaroons...i cant quite put my finger on what that is but i think its because they are well known for being difficult, when they turn out right they are really worth the effort! i look forward to making them again this week (so much so i have already been to the shop and stocked up on ingredients).

heres a line up of the different colours, sizes and shapes from the class, not bad eh?!

rather than posting in depth recipes with these posts i have decided to do them separately over the next few weeks, otherwise i could be sat at this computer for hours and with this heat...i dont think i can bare it!

part 3 will be up over the next few days so keep checking back! 

Multi Bake Day...Part one..

i am finding it very difficult to put into words just how amazing yesterday actually was, but i will give it ago.

for those of you that are not aware, yesterday i attended a food bloggers multi bake day with John Whaite (winner of the great british bake off 2012)

the day started off by getting up stupidly early to get the 7.32am train to london. i hauled myself out of bed and quickly remembered by my alarm was going off at an unearthly hour! suddenly the time didn't matter and i was ready to leave in what felt like minutes.

the train was on time (well...5 minutes late but thats good right?) and first class was almost empty. 

i arrived in london shortly before 10am and made my way to convent garden for an early lunch at the newly opened 
Shake Shack...but more on that tomorrow!

the class was held at the Vanilla workshop in Greenwich, this little gem of a kitchen is hidden away down an ally way with spectacular views of the thames and the O2.

i arrived just in time but lucky for me i was only the 3rd person to arrive! apparently following directions is not a strong suit of a food blogger! we all managed to get slightly lost.

John welcomed us all as if we were close friends, he seemed completely at ease and at home in the kitchen.

the others arrived and we had a quick introduction and then we got on with the baking! starting with the rough puff pastry for the Palmiers.

the heat in the kitchen was insane! we all began to melt simultaneously. 4 ovens on full whack and the amazing weather made it quite tricky to work with the pastry, we had to move quickly!

after rolling out the pastry for the first time we popped it in the fridge and cracked on with the madeleine mixture. for this we worked in pairs

this is Joanne. this lovely lady had a wicked sense of humour and was a pleasure to work with!

she got a new camera to bring with her and sadly hadn't read the online manual before coming! never the less the camera was brilliant and all she had to do was point and shoot! little bit jealous!

we mixed all the ingredients together in the correct fashion and proceeded to divide the mixture into 2 piping bags.

we then placed those in the fridge to thicken up a bit. according to John this is the french method and i would have to agree with him that it does make them a lot easier to divide amongst the tray.

it was then time for a little break and everyone got to talking about their own blogs and we all began badgering John with a relentless stream of questions.

most of the questions on the day were little things that came up in conversation and to remember all of it is beyond me! lucky for me though John held a Q+A via e-mail before the event, i think had we have asked all the email questions on the day he would of needed more than coffee!

me: If you could only bake one more thing, what would it be?

John: It would have to be something really indulgent, like croissants or my chocolate brownies (which are the best)

me: What was your favourite Bake off experience(other than winning)?

John: My favourite part was all behind the scenes: meeting up with my friends every weekend and going for dinner and drinks in Bristol. 

me: If there was one bake off challenge you could go back and redo, which would it be?

John: My Stollen - I couldn't get it right on the day, but I know it is so delicious when done right!

me: What advise would you give to someone who has completed a degree but wants to move into a career in baking without any qualifications in that field?

John: Experience - work in bakeries at stupid o'clock and see if you can get a real taste for it. You can never truly know what you want to do without experiencing it first.

me: What about baking tempted you away from Law?

John: I'm greedy! No, because I have artistic flair but can't express it in any other way than through food. And also because baking and cooking are the things I enjoy the most.

shortly after the break and the chatter a cork was popped and we all indulged in a glass of bubbly...i think John might have needed it!

once the madeleine mixture had cooled down we removed it from the fridge and pipped it down the centre of the tray. a little while later these little babies were pulled out of the oven, beautifully golden and the smell and taste of vanilla was out of this world!

Johns partner Paul was at hand yesterday to re fill our drinks and tidy up after us! he even popped to the shop for more bubbly! what a star!

this post is going to be a long one! its Pimms o'clock anyway now to celebrate Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, so part two will be up tomorrow...keep your eyes peeled!

Ask John a Question... saturday i am going to a bloggers multi bake day with John Whaite....

its a disturbing fact but i am so excited i could wee! the chance to see a winner of the great british bake off in action and the opportunity to ask questions!

the only trouble is...what do i ask???

whilst i bake myself into oblivion getting ready for thursdays charity bake sale why dont you leave some questions as a comment below for me to ask him, i can then try and ask him as many as possible for you!