French Cannelés...

3 weeks at college, 3 nights in a proper restaurant style kitchen and finally I've regained my mojo.
A lot can be said for jumping head first out of your comfort zone...

Several months ago now I promised a recipe for French Cannelés and its been sat in my draft box since they came out of the oven.

I think its about time I let them out of the box, don't you?

So "what are Cannelés?" I hear you ask! Well my friends, I shall tell you. They originate from Bordeaux in France and are one of the best known sweet treats of the region. The recipe resembles that of a crêpe, but the finished items are pure perfection. Typically they have a rich caramel coloured exterior with a beautifully fluffy interior.

You will need:

500ml Full fat milk.
50g unsalted butter.
1 vanilla pod worth of beans. (Or cheat like I did and you paste)
100g plain white flour.
250g icing sugar.
1stp salt.
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks.
60ml of rum.

To start, Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan with the
vanilla (pod and beans or the paste if you too are a cheater...). Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once its boiling remove from the heat and allow to cool a tad.

Next place the flour, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl and then lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

Once the milk has had time to cool slightly, add it along with the eggs to the dry mixture (Remove the pod before hand if you used one). Stir gently until it all comes together, but don't worry to much about lumps at this stage. Grab your trusty sieve and strain the mixture into a clean bowl, pushing the lumps through until you have a smoothing mixture. At this stage, its party time. Add the rum, give it a stir and then cover with cling film and pop it into the fridge. (You can add the pod back in at this point if you used one for added flavour)

This is where the difficulty starts... You have to use will power and leave it there...

...For 2 days...Minimum...!!!

Doing this not only allows the flavours to get to know each other but it also allows the gluten to relax causing a fluffier interior.

One key point though, give it a stir every now and then to allow the flavours to really get to know each other.

Now, there are several different pieces of bake ware you can use to bake these. But which ever piece you choose to use, you need to get it preheated before you add the mixture. This helps to create that crisp exterior.

Preheat the oven to 240°C and when the pan/silicone has preheated (This should only take a few minutes) pour the mixture into each hole roughly three quarters of the way up.

Place into the hot oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 190°C and continue baking for another hour.

When the hour is up, remove from the moulds and allow to cool on a wire rack.

As they begin to cool the exterior will being to develop a crisp caramel coloured exterior, with a pale and fluffy interior.

These sweet little treats really have the wow factor and are beautiful paired with a freshly brewed pot of coffee.

So go on...treat yourself this weekend!

Blogs Birthday Give away!

A year ago today The Broke Boy was born! Where has the time gone! It is scary to think that 365 days ago I sat down in front of this computer and thought "Right...Lets do something!".

It's even scarier to think that i've stuck to it!

The past year has been a great one for me. I've met some amazing people, I've pushed myself, I've taken risks and I've achieved a lot.

The biggest thing of all is the self confidence that all of this has given me. A year ago I never would of seen myself attending an audition for the Great British Bake Off, let alone getting to the top 250 out of 15,000.

The kitchen has become my new home. I love spending time creating yummy goodies and practicing different techniques. Those of you that have followed the blog since the beginning will hopefully have seen how what I make has improved. Last week someone told me that my Oreo cupcakes were "The best cake they had ever eaten" which put a massive smile on my face.

To celebrate the blog turning one, and also to start my own birthday celebrations early, I made some Dunkin cupcakes! Earl grey sponge with an earl grey and digestive frosting, topped with a biscuit fit for dunking.

Ive also set up a Facebook page!

The main thing I have been wanting to do for a while is to do a give away. When better to do one than on the blogs birthday eh?

To celebrate i've put together a collection of bread baking equipment. Everything you need to make a loaf bar the actual ingredients, i'd made to poison you.

To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter widget bellow! The more you tweet the better your chance of winning.
The closing date for the competition is the 27th of march. An email will be sent to the winner 48 hours after closing time.

Good Luck everyone and Thank you for making this a great year!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My biggest fear... the world of baking is bread! Don't ask me why, its probably because I have never spent the time practicing it.

2014 so far has been brilliant for me, and its only the 21st! That being said though, I have come to the conclusion that I need to try and conquer to fears when it comes to the kitchen.

So I decided to take bread head on.

You will notice from previous posts that I have attempted this before but things have either gone horribly wrong OR my overly picky side screamed at me and said it looked rubbish.

Just before New Year I ordered some books on bread from Amazon, one being Dough by Richard Bertinet and the other being Brilliant Bread by James Morton.

If you are like me and have a fear of bread, get these books! They are both brilliant, one starts from the beginning and explains every little detail about the ingredients, the method and the different outcomes. The other comes with a DVD that gives you a step by step guide on how to work the dough and get the best results.

This was my first attempt at a plain white loaf. Bare in mind at this point I didn't have the "Basic Equipment" the books said would help. At this point I wasn't so much worried about the working of the dough I wanted to concentrate on the outcome, the shape, the bake etc. I used the dough hook attachment on my mixer to speed up the process and focused solely on the shaping and baking. 
Although this loaf turned out ok, I wanted more from it!

For my next attempt I decided to go for the same dough as the bake itself was lovely. But I decided to attempt a different style of outcome.
This time I decided to create some baguettes in the form of Epis. The shape is formed by shaping the dough into a baguette shape and then taking a pair of scissors to the dough and snipping at intervals down the length. For a second attempt I was chuffed with these. They were yummy as well, perfect for sharing as its a bit like a tare and share loaf.

For this next batch my equipment had arrived and I was ready to work the dough by hand. Rather than using the traditional english method of kneading, I went for Richard Bertinet's method. At first it seemed a little alien but once you get into the swing of it you realise just how easy it is. I decided to try adding some flavouring to my white loaves buy adding Cumin and Gruyere cheese. To me these are a thing of beauty, look at the cheesey crust! For my first hand worked dough the crumb was brilliant and the flavours were spot on. I will making those again soon!

And finally my favourite of all, The pizza dough!
Never before have I stuffed a pizza so quickly down my neck. Good lord it was glorious!
The first picture was from my first attempt. It was slightly rushed as the weather took a turn for the worst whilst trying the recipe, causing my dad to get home later than planned with the ingredients. However the base was beautifully crisp and so flavourful. 

The second picture was my second attempt. I started this dough earlier on in the morning and decided to prove it in the fridge. Apparently this allows the dough to rise slowly which creates more flavour and also gives it a touch of acidity which will help create a crisp outside and a slightly chewy center.
I really don't see myself buying a pizza any time soon, I mean really, why buy when you make your own!?

Anyway, thats enough mouth watering food for today. My fear of bread has been conquered and I am now ready to tackle my next challenge...The sour dough starter! 

Wish me luck!

Happy New Year...

...Happy new year everyone!
I hope you have all had a brilliant Christmas and are enjoying 2014 so far...

2013 was a year of change for me. It started off pretty average, but starting this blog was one of the best things I have ever done. When I started out I remember thinking "I'll never keep this going, I can't even keep a diary!". But here I am 10 months later and i'm still posting, even if isn't as often as originally intended.

The blog has opened so many doors for me, i've met some amazing people...From John Whaite to Larkin Cen and not forgetting the fellow bloggers! It's made me push myself in the kitchen, I've tried foods that I wouldn't have dared eat before. I've consumed some damn good burgers and chicken wings.. I've baked my ass off and most of all I have loved every single second of it.

I have a few new years resolutions for 2014, some I am going to stick to, some will last a month or so..some may not even begin. But I will share it all with you.

The first is to eat healthier food that isn't as boring as sin! Every year I promise myself that I will try and lose weight and every year I get to the end of the first week and then stuff my face with every burger in sight. Blogging has shown me that there are some seriously tasty meals out there that are good for you and don't taste like the underside of muddy boot.

The second is to join the gym, as of the 5th of January this is still yet to happen but its having the time at the moment. I will do this though as I need to swim! 

The third is to give less F•cks... I get myself in to quite a state sometimes with the smallest of things. But this year I'm taking the attitude that people do what they want, it's not my problem.

The fourth is to update the blog more regularly and give it a make over.

And finally the fifth is to continue saving and do new things! 

All together I think I can stick to most of these...With a little help from you guys!

You may have noticed I've been a little quiet on here recently, Christmas is the busiest time of year for me at work. That and all the time spent in the kitchen at home creating Christmas bakes has really stopped me from having a moment spare to post. So I thought I would do a little round up of my lead up to Christmas now.

Christmas for me started with a solo visit to London. I decided to go with no plans and just explore, get some shopping done and enjoy myself. It solve involved some eating (standard) but I'll save that for a separate post.

London truly is beautiful at Christmas, the lights really give the festive feeling and a smile as wide possible.

The next part of Christmas is obviously the food...The glorious food!
This is the first year that I have actively wanted to take part in creating the food for the big day. I started with a Mincemeat Streusel, making everything from scratch. I've got incredibly warm hands so can struggle with pastry but this was BEAUTIFUL. Buttery pastry that makes the mouth water. This is probably the best bake I have ever done and it makes me sad that its a Christmas bake...I need it all year round!

The next bake was Raspberri Cupcakes Christmas tree meringues. I've never had much luck with meringue but was determined to push myself and they turned out beautifully. A gloriously goey center meets the tongue as your teeth break through the outer wall.

I even went as far as cooking a turkey! My first ever bird went down a storm, I stuffed it with a whole lemon and basted it with lashings of butter, white wine and water. It was beautifully moist and made some great left over dishes including a turkey and ham pie, Turkey curry and tons of soup!

I also attempted my first flap jack! Nigel Slater supplied the recipe and I have to say, they were bloody lush! Buttery goodness followed by sour cherries dancing on the tongue.
I also made some edible Christmas tree decorations for my colleagues at work.

Anyway enough about food, I'm sure you all have similar resolutions to me so I best stop talking...

My family were incredibly generous this Christmas, they have obviously noticed I like to bake, everything was baking related!

But I'd like to say one special thank you on here, and that thank you goes to Rosie over at The Londoner.

I received this little beauty after entering one of her give aways. Its possibly one of the nicest things I have ever received. If I knew you in person not only would you be receiving a massive bunch of flowers but you would receive the biggest hug ever. Its a lovely watch and I am going to wear it proudly.(but not to work, don't want it getting scratched to buggery!)

I hope you all have a fantastic year! Heres to 2014 and all it brings our ways!

Happy New Year!

Alex aka The Broke Boy

Stir up Sunday...

...for years my family has had a lovingly prepared christmas pudding. it started with my grandma who had one of Delia Smiths first books. the spine hangs from the book and the pages look like a treasure map for a deserted island. notes in pencil cover every bit of free space from where my grandma had tweaked things to suit her style of cooking.

we all used to be invited round to stir the pudding and make a wish on it. i have very fond memories of this and i really do miss the excitement.

when my Grandma passed away my Auntie took over the role as head christmas pudding maker. the book is still in use and creates an amazing pudding that i look forward to each year.

this year i've decided to have a bash at making a pudding myself but i've decided to stay away from the family recipe and make something slightly different.

John Whaite posted a recipe for his exotic christmas pudding and i thought i would give it a bash...

i struggled to find the toffee vodka (there is a brand called "Thunder" but my local shops don't sell it) so i substituted it for amaretto.

you will need: 

Billington's Dark Muscovado Natural Unrefined Cane Sugar 110g
Billington's Light Muscovado Natural Unrefined Cane Sugar 100g
Billington's Natural Glacé Cherries 200g
dried apple 150g, roughly chopped
plump raisins 150g 
dried apricots 150g, roughly chopped
dried mango pieces 100g
cherry cola 300ml
1 orange juice and zest
1 lemon zest
Amaretto 4tbsp 
orange blossom water 1tsp 
rose water 1tsp 
vegetable suet 200g 
breadcrumbs 200g 
plain flour 100g 
toasted pecan nuts 150g 
ground clove 1tsp 
ground ginger 1tsp 
ground cinnamon 1tsp 
ground nutmeg ¼tsp 
4 eggs beaten 
milk 6tbsp 
black treacle 1tbsp

place all of the dried fruits into a saucepan and pour the cherry cola and orange juice over them. 

cook over a medium heat and allow the cola to boil. stir and continue to heat until the liquid has mostly soaked into the fruit.

remove from heat and stir in the zests and amaretto, along with the dark and light muscovado sugar. leave to macerate for 1 hour.

transfer to a large bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. this is the point where "Stir up Sunday" really comes into play. get your family to help you with this part as it does take fair amount of mixing.

scoop the mixture into the prepared pudding mould (you will need a 1.5-litre pudding basin, greased and lined with a circle of baking paper) and cover with a greased double sheet of baking paper. Tie cooking string tightly around the baking paper and under the lip on the pudding basin to seal then cover well with foil.
i found that i had quite a lot of mixture left over so it might be worth arming yourself with a smaller pudding mould to create a second pudding.

place into a steamer filled with a good few inches of simmering water and close the lid to steam. keep it over a low heat and check the water level every 45 minutes to make sure the pan doesn't boil dry.
if you don't have a steamer, put the pudding on a mug in a deep saucepan with a good few inches of simmering water, close the lid, and keep simmering as above, checking the water level. steam for 4½ to 5 hours. at this point remove from the steamer and allow it to cool completely.

remove the pudding from the basin and inspect the creation of all your hard work! i'm very impressed with mine and it was touch and go as to if it would actually last until christmas day, as dad wanted to scoff it.
wrap your pudding in a double layer of cling film and a double layer of tin foil and store in a cupboard until the big day. 

to reheat on Christmas day steam for 2 hours as you did first time round.

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!

Sinfully delicious chocolate cake...

as i mentioned earlier i'm trying to bake along side the GBBO series, partially as i would be baking something any way, but mostly to practice as i hope to enter into next years competition.

week ones episode was all about cake. i started by baking a victoria sandwich and it went down so quickly that i didn't even get a picture... apparently they liked it!

so the weekend after i finally managed to come true on my promise by making Emma a birthday cake, a belated one at that!

i decided to go for a chocolate cake with a white chocolate ganache filling. it really is an easy cake to make and i think it is probably one of the nicest i have made! 

you will need:

for the cake:
190g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
2 level tbsp cocoa powder
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 level tsp baking powder
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 free-range eggs
150ml sunflower oil
150m milk

for the icing:
200g white chocolate
150ml double cream
125g full-fat cream cheese

the method really is simple...
pre heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 then grease and line your chosen tins. i used 2 8inch loose bottom tins.

simply sift all of the dry ingredients together and then make a well in the center. Add the syrup, eggs, oil and milk into the well and mix.

separate into 2 tins evenly and then bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when you poke it with your greedy little finger!

remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the pans and placing on to a wire rack.

to make the icing simply break the chocolate into a bowl and then heat the double cream in a pan until its very hot (just don't let it boil).
pour the cream over the chocolate and stir, the heat from the cream will melt the chocolate. Set the mixture aside and allow it to cool slightly.

place the cream cheese into another bowl and gradually add the slightly chilled chocolate mixture. mix well until combined and then set aside to firm up.

once the icing has thickened up, build the cake...

and finally..


cake wednesday transforms into bake off wednesday...

as you may well know every wednesday Fran and i battle it out at work with baked goods, filling the stomachs of our colleagues after a long evening.

the bake off has recently started and its taking the nation by storm once again. this in all honesty is the first year i've actually set it up to record, the other series i've watched snippets of...but shhhhhhh don't tell John! (i did watch that series the night before the bloggers bake day!)

i've been thinking about entering the competition myself for a little while now but i've always been a little concerned that there would be a lot of stuff i wouldn't have tried before, but as everyone at work is hooked on the show we decided to turn cake wednesday into bake off wednesday!

every tuesday night i watch the show and attempt to create something from the show on the wednesday morning to take in for my shift.

so far its going really well! the victoria sponge went down a storm,sadly i didn't get a picture of went that quickly! But never fear i made another cake to show you for Emma's belated birthday. i've also tackled 2 types of bread and i have just finished a batch of madeleines.

i'm going to sort out the recipes and get them on later on today.




Total Saving

a foodies dream...

something is seriously wrong with this weather...i mean its been constantly hot for over a the world ending?

anyway! this lovely weather was just what was required for a beautiful day full of food and fun!

as i mentioned a week or so ago, i was given some tickets to go to the Bristol Foodies festival! the parents and i along with my friend Fran descended upon the harbour shortly after it started!

as we entered we were greeted by a massive queue for the demonstration tickets, luckily though the people giving out the tickets were incredibly organised and we didn't have to wait long at all. we managed to get tickets to see Manisha Parmar from the great british bake off and Larkin Cen from master chef. this made me VERY excited!

the food adventure was then ours to be had! we started by wandering the entire festival to get an idea of size and what kind of stalls were about. we were greeted by glorious cakes and slices by The Ginger Bakersdelicious smoked cheese, flavoursome fudges and some vibrant macaroons which made me very jealous! (by Dimkins)

we then ventured down the steps and were greeted by pots of glorious food just waiting for us to give in to our lunch time urges, there was so much of it i don't really know where to begin.

chinese, japanese, mexican..the choices were endless! 

we decided to have a refreshing glass of pimms before deciding what to eat, as it was literally to hot to think! 

i love almost everything about pimms, i love the cooling first sip, the juicy fruit swimming around the straw and the feast that happens when you finish drinking.
the only thing i am not usually keen on is the mint. i love mint with most things but it seems wrong with seems to over power the drink.

HOWEVER! the girls that whipped this little beauty up for me must have magical powers! the mint ramped all up the flavours and made the drink incredibly refreshing. 

note to self - smash all the fruit together with the ice before adding the booze!

i have to laugh at this sign! when we arrived the festival had only just opened so it wasn't that busy (outside of the ticket line). maybe the pimms went to our heads...but Fran and i both posed by the sign at the same time doing an erotic pose... childish...NAH!

as the day went on we caught more and more people posing next to it clutching their junk... haha!

there were literally hundreds of flavour combinations on this fudge stall. Fran just couldn't resist.

had it not of been so hot i think i would of spent more time shopping for ingredients. vast amounts of salami stacked up high tempted my taste buds but the heat stopped me.

it was then time for the first demo of the day with Manisha and special guest Ryan Chong.
i don't think he expected to be called up on stage as he was stood at the back to begin with! 

they whipped up some quick scones and we all got to have a taste.
(i think Ryan was feeling the heat a little...)

after the first demo we decided we couldn't fight our urges any longer and popped down the steps once again for lunch.
we decided to go to The Quack Shack. serving up delicious duck dishes with a twist, our mouths were watering firstly from the smell and secondly from the amazing menu.

we started with some quackling, crispy duck skins...need i say any more than that? 
actually was INSANELY GOOD! i could of gone back and ordered 5 more bags, perfectly crunchy and porn!

we both then went for the shack burger. i have to say this wasn't the best burger i have ever had, but it was great to see something different!
the burger itself had an amazing flavor, the orange really complimented the burger. topped with the onion jam which gave an added sweetness to the stack and at the bottom...well... the beetroot slaw! that was something to behold! may have to give making that a go!


after the salty quackling we naturally needed a drink.. so we decided to get a pitcher of the good didn't last long!

time flies when you are having fun! next up in the demo tent was Larkin Cen, finalist on master chef 2013. i was particularly excited about this as i've grown a bit of an addiction to asian inspired cooking.

i hadn't watched much of master chef so didn't really know who he was but quickly came to realise just why he was in the final. he was a genuinely nice guy with a wicked sense of humour and a real talent in the kitchen.

he prepared two dishes in the 45 minute demo.

first of all he started with seabass topped with wontons, served in a mushroom and lemongrass consommé. the smell was divine! i wanted to face plant the dish and scoff the whole thing!

secondly he prepared lamb shoulder with a home made BBQ glaze. i had never considered mixing those 2 flavours but after seeing this i cant believe i haven't seen it before!

the glaze was quick and easy to make, light soy, ketchup, worcestershire sauce and a little bit of brown sugar. when i got home i quickly whipped up a batch and smothered it on some chicken! YUM!

after the demo he let everyone go to the front and take pictures of the food and get a picture with him. i opted to stay out of the picture (i'm not photogenic on the best of days, let alone when i'm sweating like get the idea!)

bravery came over me and i gave him one of my newly printed business cards! after that i threw them out left right and centre...if i can give one to him i can give them to anyone!

i never thought i would complain about finally getting some form of summer, but the heat really did make the day short lived. it was just to hot to stay much longer so we decided to quickly whip round the stalls and gather up some tasty treats for later.

i popped to the Dig in market stall and grabbed some peaches and plums. they were perfectly ripened and left me with a juicy face.

then it was on to the Ginger bakers. i decided to go for a delicious brownie and a scrumptious pecan and caramel shortbread!

these are the kinds of bakes i love! they have that fresh out of the oven home made feel about them yet pack a real punch in the flavour department.

if you ever see them selling there goods, don't keep walking...STOP and stuff your face..seriously you won't regret it!

i gave them a business card and asked them to let me know if they ever had any work experience available. worth an ask!

final stop was the Dimkin's Patisserie stall for some macaroons. the range of colours and flavours was insane, everyone that walked past this stall stopped and took in their beauty.

don't they look amazing?

sadly though i felt a little bit let down by them.

i went for 2 passionfruit, 1 raspberry, 1 champagne and 1 bubblegum flavour. the flavours didn't seem all that strong, there was a subtle hint but i was expecting an explosion. the texture of them was quite hard as well but this could of been because of the heat outside.

all in all it was a beautiful day and i was so pleased we managed to get there.

thanks again to the Foodies Festival organisers for the free tickets. 

if you are a foodie addict try and get to one of the events around the country. you will love it!

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!

Bristol Foodies Festival... things keep getting better and better!

i have been thinking about buying some tickets for me and the family to the Bristol Foodies Festival on the harbor side for a few months now but we were a bit unsure as to weither my parents would be in the area to go.

they have now decided that yes they will so i started looking into the different tickets.

i eventually decided that i would get a VIP ticket for myself and normal tickets for my parents are they weren't quite as excited for the chef theatre as i was.

this morning i turned on the computer to book the tickets but before i did so i decided to check twitter.

@foodiesfestival had tweeted asking any keen photographers to email them to get their hands on some free press passes.

i thought i would be a little bit cheeky and tweeted them asking if they were looking for any food bloggers and they asked me to email them...

...who knew my little blog could get me free passes!

its going to be a fun filled day full of food, drink and hopefully sun!

obviously my passion is baking and i am really looking forward to all the different cupcake stalls! hopefully it will be a really inspiring day and i hope to come back full of ideas and ready to try new things!


i'm really looking forward to some of the cake and bake theatre's including the chocolate truffle masterclass by Coeur De Xocolat and the Sugar craft demo by Ann Pickard

contestant of the great british bake off Manisha Parmar will also be at the festival and will be giving bakery hints and tips! 2 contestants in one week! what more could i want!

the festival runs in bristol from friday the 12th of july until sunday the 14th and the tickets are actually a really good price...

...£12 for adults and £38 for VIP.

the festival is also at different locations throughout the summer, check here for more info!
ill make sure to take lots of pictures and report back to you with what i find... if i take a minute to stop eating that is! 

Oui Oui...

in two days time i will be in london baking and making yummy things with John Whaites. i recently found out that Emily and Bea will be attending as well!

as i have never made any of the goodies before i decided it might be a good idea to give them a go!

i decided to try Madeleine's! the madeleine or petite madeleine is a traditional small cake from Commercy and Liverdun, two communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France, AKA yummy!

i stuck to Johns recipe for rose water but decided against the fondant. insad I went for a simple rose water icing using icing sugar, water and rose water.

considering i have never made these before im really pleased with how they turn out! they looked perfect and they tasted amazing!

in the morning i will be trying mushroom and parmasan rough puff pastry palmiers

on a slightly different note the final fundraising amount for cancer research was £266! id like to say a special thanks to all those who supported by buying the cupcakes and making the day such a success!


baking for a cure...

the bake sale was a success! took time to create all of the baked goods but was totally worth it.

in the end i decided to go for cherryade cupcakes, earl grey cupcakes and PB+J pinwheel cookies.

i nipped out tuesday morning and got all the ingredients today for a mammoth day of baking.

by the end of tuesday i had 72 cherryade made and ready to be decorated.

wednesday morning i made 2 rolls of pinwheel cookies and popped them in the fridge ready to be baked freshly shortly before the bake sale. i then made 32 earl grey cupcakes and began to ice them all!

thursday morning i was half expecting a mad rush to get everything decorated and finished off but it was actually very chilled. 

cookies baked, cupcakes decorated i made my way to work to begin the sale.

i decided the earl grey cupcakes (top) needed a topper, so i purchased a selection of miniature biscuits for people to select and put on top. the first bake sale go'er went for a jammy dodger earl grey cupcake and a cherryade cupcake (bottom).

the middle cupcake was made by my colleague pauline, vanilla topeed with a pink butterfly.

when i left after 4 hours the bucket was rammed with cash and we had made over £175 selling half of the cupcakes.

i'm not sure what the grand total is yet but i will find out tomorrow and let you all know.

i was so pleased to be part of such an amazing event, its a charity that is very close to my heart.

this one was for you both, Auntie Jean and Auntie Sue.

now its time to put my feet up and have a nice cup of tea!

p.s how appropriate is the t-shirt?! just had to buy it!

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!

a cause close to my heart...

last week i was asked to create some pink cakes for a fund raising event at work. the event is taking place as we have a colleague returning to work after being treated for cancer. all money raised will be donated to Cancer Research UK.

they asked me to think of some ideas for baked goods that i could sell, including a pink cupcake.
i've decided to go for cherryade cupcakes, they went down really well last time i did a charity bake sale. they have ordered 120 of these.
lucky for me they are paying me 50p per cupcake to cover the ingredient cost and they are also paying me to stay at home part of the day on Wednesday to give me some time to bake.

the plan is to bake all of the cupcakes on Tuesday ready to be decorated on the morning of the bake sale. hopefully i will be able to make some peanut butter pinwheels in advance as they are easily stored and can be baked shortly before the sale.


i also have LOTS of creme eggs left over from easter which i need to use before July so i hope to make some brownies if time allows!


in other news!
i have entered the above cake into a competition! i was wondering if you guys would VOTE FOR ME?

click on the Link and go to the facebook competition APP. the cake is titled "Mad Hatters Tea Party Topsy Turvy Birthday Cake"

the people with the most votes get to the next round of the competition and the judges then decide on a winner. the prize is a Kitchen Aid Mixer

thanks in advance guys!


....for the last couple of days i have been looking into different things baking related and otherwise.

after purchasing a copy of John Whaite's book in london (autographed as well) i decided to follow him on twitter (@Johnwhaitebakes).

shortly after following he sent out a tweet about a Food blogger multi bake day so i decided to take a look. at first i was a bit unsure because of the price and the date, i wasn't sure if i would be able to get the time of work in such short notice. however after a lot of thinking i decided i would look into going.

amazingly i found some train tickets for the total price of £59 first class return from my home town to London Paddington (booking first class singles rather than a return). I thought about staying over night on the friday and then returning home after the day of baking as it was originally due to run from 10am to 3pm.

today i had another look and sadly the hotel i usually stay in is fully booked BUT! the times had been changed to 1pm-6pm which ment i had time to travel up on saturday morning and return the same day, saving myself £65 on hotel costs.

i had gone over it all in my head and decided to go for it. 

as i went to click on the link that would take me through to purchase i realised that the price had gone down from £140 to £100! i transfered money out of my savings account instantly and clicked on the link!

you are now reading the words of the proud over of a place at a food bloggers paradise, a day with a Great British Bake Off winner!


shortly after this my phone lit up and i had an email. i recognised the name as one of my followers on twitter.

the email read as follows:

XXY magazine would like to invite you to this event we are hosting on tuesday next week, at Mahiki.
We hope to see you all there at the after party in collaboration with designers Joseph Turley and L.Lipop.
Also, we were wondering if you would want to collaborate as well with us making black cupcakes/or a cake with white icing spelling XXY.
Tell us if you're interested.

i feel completely honoured to be invited and so completely gutted that i cannot make it! what a great thing to be asked to do.
i had to email back and tell him i couldn't make it due to work and travel arrangements. 

kind of feels like one of those what if moments that i will probably regret for a very long time. 

but thank you so so much Pierre

london : mother, the market and me. this weekend mother and i visited london, and i have to say i really enjoyed myself...even if we did reverse roles and i some how became the parent!

we arrived 10 minutes late due to signaling errors in swindon but thats nothing to get angry about. we clambered onto the tube and made our way to Portobello Market. i had read up before planning the weekend but i was not expecting this...

as we turned the corner onto the beginning of the market we entered a sea of people, so many faces eyeing nic nacs and enjoying the glorious weather.

of course my eye was instantly drawn to the hummingbird bakery shop but i was very strong willed and stayed away! partially because of the queue but manly because i am not a fan of the cakes from their bakeries.. 

don't get me wrong the recipes are amazing but they always taste better home made. something about the bakery made ones feels like it should be a long life product.

as i wandered down the market gazing at stalls i felt myself drift off into a harry potter inspired day dream, Diagon ally was calling my name!
at university one of my favorite lessons was the letter press and i stumbled across these beautiful sets! i don't know about you but i think there is something really special about these little gems. more to them than just a computer generated piece of type, a depth if you will...

i was very tempted to buy some but they would be wasted on me.

as if by magic the stalls then became a food bloggers paradise, the house elves of the market had been hard at work creating piles of doughnuts.... 

...breads and cupcakes...

i might get shunned for saying this but i always seem to find more fresh produce in london than i do anywhere at home in somerset! maybe its just because when i am home i'd either be working or recovering from working....who knows!

the vibrant colours were enough to get my creative juices (and my saliva) flowing. i wanted to grab everything and nibble a corner off.

had this of been on the second day or closer to home i think i would of been bankrupt within 10 minutes. my obsession with food and cooking is becoming more and more...well... obsessive...
i am constantly looking for ideas and ingredients and its getting quite costly haha.

maybe i chose the wrong career path?

mum got quite excited by all the olives, bucket after bucket of tasty little morsels that take you to a land far away where the sun is shining and the clear blue sea is lapping at the perfectly white sand.

did i mention the food? THE FOOD!

i love markets and i would recommend Portobello market to anyone visiting london. all i would say is make sure that you plan it so that you go near to the time you are going to be returning home as there will be things you want to buy but cant carry around london! we missed out on a very nice chilli plant sadly because of this.

more to come tomorrow!

mother, london and I...

...this saturday mum and i are going to london for the weekend, kind of a belated mothers day type thing!

we are traveling up first class on the train at 7.30 am and should arrive at 9.45 am.

we are going to start our weekend by hopping on the tube and visiting portobello market. this was more mum's idea that it was mine however i am really looking forward to it! i always enjoy markets are than i do being dragged around the shops. 

i am particularly looking forward to the fruit and veg stalls, it's just a shame that i won't be able to buy much because of staying in the hotel. never mind...i may sneak some fruit in!

after a busy morning of exploring the market we are heading over to Wahaca @ southbank.

i had lunch here with emma just before christmas and it was very nice! i'm looking forward to a nice beer or 6 here.

in the evening we are going to see Viva Forever. now i know what you are thinking..."haven't you already been?"...yes i have..but it was brilliant and mum wants to see it...ahem...

after a night in the hotel at Custom house we are planning on getting the Emirates skyline to the O2. we were planning on going on the London Eye but we have both done this before and want to try something new and the views from this are apparently brilliant.

we are thinking about visiting Greenwich market whilst over that way but thats not set in stone yet, there are a few other things that we want to do.

one thing that mum would really like to do is visit Buckingham palace and the surrounding area. as luck would have its the day for changing of the guard so we are going to plan on getting there around 11 am.

any recommendations would be greatly received as i can only think of things i have already done!

something i didn't have time to mention last week were these bad boys. i decided to stick to a simple recipe and make some vanilla cupcakes. the main reason was to practice pipping icing as i usually use a palette knife and swirl it.

i had lots of compliments about how these turned out but i wasn't 100% happy with them, i think its the perfectionist in me showing its ugly face again!

so... tomorrow morning before work i am going to make another batch of these but use some honey i purchased today (which has the comb inside the jar) as a sort of drizzle. i'm also going to break up the comb and put a little nugget on each cupcake...

i will update you all on how they turn out!