Cooking is my passion

This weekend, I finally found an excuse and the time to do some ‘non’ Slimming World baking.  Its been a while and it reminded me so much of how much I miss it.

There must be nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread or cakes in your house.  Since my hubby has stopped eating Carbs during the week, the opportunities for this have been dramatically reduced.  I don’t eat cakes anyway and on Slimming World, the lovely baked white loaves I used to make would be a no no.

My stepdaughter was over this weekend, so I had the perfect excuse to bake.  I had some lemons that needed to be used up, so a Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake it was.  I went to my favourite baking book for cakes – Mary Berry Easy Cakes.  I’ve had it for around 30 years.  It is full of so many amazing recipes that don’t take long to throw together!

https://youtu.be/33038fcXl0A

It is funny really when you think of my other favourite baker – Paul Hollywood.  I loved them both individually. In fact,Mary Berry’s cookbook was purchased at a time I didn’t really know who she was.  They both went on to great success working together.

I am not sure if it is the fact that I turn 50 next week, but I’m beginning to get really nostalgic.  In my grandparent’s day and even during my childhood, you would make a lot more cakes than you would ever buy.  Who remembers the good old Victoria sponge?  We would even make our own sponge to use in the trifle.

When I was first married in the late 80’s, every weekend I would make batches of cakes to keep us going through the week.  My best ever was a chocolate cake for an Easter party I was hosting.  

If people popped round, you always had something in to offer them with a cup of tea.  Cakes weren’t the only thing I’d make – biscuits and sweets too.  It is a bit sad to think that these days, it is a treat rather than the norm.

I know I blame my hubby and my eating habits for this, but the reality is, I just don’t have the same time as I used to.  The 3 hour a day commute certainly eats into my weekdays.  Walking the dogs and cooking meals from scratch every evening leaves me with only an hour a night to relax or catch up with any other jobs I need to do.

My blogs are written during my train journey.  Multitasking is the only way I can get through the mountain of tasks I have each week.

As time is limited in the week, we tend to leave all our jobs for the weekend.  That then means again that having the odd hour to spare is limited.

Hubby and I were talking recently about what our ideal future would be.  We would both love to work together in a joint business venture.  Doing something where you produce a dish, whether a savoury or sweet would be my ideal.  Hubby said he would be the delivery man!  It’s only a pipe dream, we both know that, but it’s funny how something I really enjoy features so little in my life!

That said you never know. If we won a million our idea may become real, and I do have an idea and a name ! So watch this space !

In the meantime I’m going to keep cooking!

Maybe that is why I love my vlogging.  It forces me to think of new recipes or make the effort to cook something that will help me on my own Slimming World journey, but also inspire others.

I’d like to say I am going to make sure I find the time to do more.  I know the people I work with would welcome some home cooking.  Sadly, I am not sure I would be able to stick to it.  In the meantime, I’m going to embrace every opportunity I can to get into the kitchen.  I have a great platform in my Youtube Channel.  I will ensure I keep motivated each week.  So don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to see what delights I come up with.

 

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An apology to Paul Hollywood!

Anyone who knows me, will know I have a celebrity crush on Paul Hollywood!  It’s been going on for many years.  I’m not sure if its the beautiful blue eyes, the cheeky smile or just his rugged good looks that attract me too him, but I also think he is an brilliant baker too!

Before anyone worries, I also think he has a look of my hubby too!

So anyway, back to Paul! 

I’ve been a massive fan of Paul as I said for years.  I have many of his cookbooks.  In my old house, a couple of them were pride of place on my kitchen top.  Everyday, I would get my Hollywood fix!  Sadly, in my new house, I don’t have the same work space, so he is now on a book shelf in my hubby’s study!

Whenever I need to bake, I first go to Paul for inspiration and direction.  Whether it be from one of his many books or online! So when we arranged a GBBO mince pie competition at work, there was only one man to help me!

I wanted to stand out, and Paul didn’t disappoint with his recipe.  The filling took a normal jar of mince meat, and turned it into something special.  By adding chopped apple and satsumas, it was delicious.  The problem for me was the pastry!

I can make bread, but for some reason pastry just doesn’t go right for me!

My mum bakes regularly.  As we were to make vegetarian pies, I asked her for advice.  She suggested Trex!  So I substituted butter for Trex.

As my Youtube video will show, it all went a bit wet at first, but with a bit of flour I got it sorted. 

I decided to not do a full lid, but be creative with a star!  Hum!  Maybe I didn’t think that through, as the filling leaked over the edge!  Now I couldn’t really tell if they were fully cooked or if it was the juice catching!

I finally pulled them out of the oven and left them to cool!

They certainly didn’t look anything like Paul’s would!   In fact I’m a bit embarrassed, but as I had run out of ingredients, they had to do!

I brought them into work and placed them on the plate with my name on the underside.  We had 4 staff blind judging them on taste and look!  As I expected, I didn’t win!  Apparently, they tasted good, but I had a soggy bottom!!  

I mean, what would Paul say to a soggy bottom!

I suppose I should be grateful that my other colleagues got comments too like, the filling was missing, the pastry wasn’t good enough or the filling was too sweet!  

Oh Paul, what did I do wrong?  I’m so sorry that I took one of your amazing recipes and turned it into a complete disaster!

I’m not going to be beaten though!  I’m going to keep going until I can master the pastry!  Or if Paul is out there and wants to show me where I’m going wrong, of course I wouldn’t be offended!!

Happy baking!!

The Great British Bake Off

So last night saw the winner of the 9th series  of Great British Bake Off (GBBO) crowned the king/queen of baking!

I’ve been a fan of GBBO ever since its first series.  The mixture of great baking challenges, creative cooking, individual personalities and of course, last but by nowhere near least, Paul Hollywood.

Paul Hollywood is the absolute ‘god’ of baking for me.  It helps of course that he has the most gorgeous blue eyes, cheeky grin, and is my celebrity crush!

I know there has been a lot of bad press about him over the years in his personal life, and yes he may be a ladies man, but a girl can still have those crushes.

The crush aside, I do also admire him as a baker.    He had a good start in life, with his own father having a bakery.  He then moved on to be head baker in a few hotels around the world.  One of those countries was Cyprus, where a friend of mine met him a few times, in a local bar.  I am not jealous of that at all!! Much!

His TV career includes The Generation Game, The Heaven and Earth Show, This Morning and other one with one of my admired men – The Alan Titchmarsh Show.  Yes I know, some people find that weird, but have you read his books?  If you had, you would see him very differently!

In 2010, Paul’s career really climbed, when he was chosen as a judge, along with Mary Berry, on GBBO.

He has produced many cook books of which, I think I have all of them!  It really motivates you to be in the kitchen when you can see his face staring back at you!

His books include Paul Hollywood’s Breads, Pies and Puds, British Baking, How to Bake and Weekender Baker.  I think my most used is the book on breads.  Sadly, since I moved, my kitchen work surface isn’t as big as it used to be, so I find making bread more of a challenge!  I have plans in my kitchen though to sort that out one day!  I just need to boost my savings first!

For the first 7 series, Mary Berry worked alongside Paul as a judge, with Mel and Sue as the presenters, on BBC.  In 2017, it was moved to Channel 4.  Sadly Mary decided to remain with the BBC, so a new judge was needed.  They worked so well together, I was worried it wouldn’t be the same.  Mel and Sue also decided to leave the show, so it seemed the whole dynamics was changing!

Some people I know didn’t want to watch it on Channel 4, as they felt it wouldn’t be the same, plus it now had adverts included.  I was always going to be watching it, just to get my PH fix!

So in 2017, the new series started, with Prue Leith as Paul’s side kick.  Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding were to present along with them.

I have to admit now, I loved the connection with Prue and Paul from the beginning, but I struggled with Sandi and Noel.  I can’t quite tell you why, but it took a couple of episodes for me to warm to them.  Now I have,  I love them both.

I do have a silent jealousy of those contestants on the show.  I would love to give it a go, but I know I’m nowhere near good enough!

Some of the creations they come up with are absolutely amazing.

If you have never watched it, each episode is made up of 3 challenges.  Each challenge tests the competitors baking skills.

Signature Bake

This tests their creativity, and gives them a chance to show off their individual personalities.    They know in advance what they are baking, so have the chance to practice it as many times as they can, at home.

Technical Challenge

This is the most difficult challenge I think.  The competitors are given a very basic recipe to follow, usually without baking times, temperatures,  etc, along with some ingredients.  They are given the name of the finished product, but most of them will not even know what it is supposed to look like!

The end product is then blind tasted by Paul and Prue, ranking them in order based on taste and how they look compared to what they should look like!

Showstopper Challenge

This is the final challenge of the round. This is where the competitors can really show off their skills, producing a show stopper to wow the judges, and us at home!

It has to not only look good, but taste good too!

All these challenges are carried out in a huge tent!  It is filmed in the summer months.  The temperature in the temp must reach huge heights, withl all the lights, camera equipment, ovens etc.  In some of the challenges, you will see the impact of the heat on their creations, especially when they are working with chocolate.

After the 3 challenges have been completed, the judges will pick a ‘Star Baker’ for that week.  This is the person who has impressed the most over the 3 challenges.  You receive a ‘Star Baker’ apron and the respect of the other bakers.  There is then sadly someone that has to leave the competition.

This continues week on week, until only 3 are left, to go into the final!

This years final had a bit of a twist!  For the technical challenge, they were taken out of the tent, to where an open fire was waiting for each of them.  Their challenge was to make 6 equal sized Pitta breads with 3 dips!  You have to love Paul’s creativity.  I think the viewers were as surprised as the finalists.

It’s true to say, that all 3 struggled with it, but I admire they way they just got in with it.

If you have never watched the show, I recommend you do!  If you have a love of baking, or even just eating, you will love it.  Or if you are like me, just for the weekly fix of Paul Hollywood!

Paul has inspired me to bake for many years.  I love making his breads and coming up with cake ideas for friends and family.  Here are just a few of my creations of the last few years.

This was for my nieces 4th birthday party.  She wanted butterflies on her cake so this was what I came up with.

My dads 70th birthday.  He is great at making and fixing things.  I felt this reflected him well.

A friends 60th.  The jockey was based on the birthday boy.  He doesn’t ride but loves horse raising and works for a trainer, so I based the horse and jockey on the actual racing colours and one of his horses.

A surprise 50th birthday for another friend.  The man and women are meant to be the birthday boy and his wife!  Thank fully they are still speaking to me.  If you look behind the 3rd photo, you might see a familiar face!!

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This was one of the first cakes I made, to take to my neighbours for a party to celebrate the final of the Rugby World  Cup.

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And my last cake, was for my mums 70th birthday meal.

I do love baking and creating.  I’m not fantastic at it, but its fun having a go.  Pininterest is a great place for ideas.  You can keep it as simple or as complicated at you like.

You just need a good cake recipe, a good imagination and a bit of time.

Watching GBBO inspires me to get back into the kitchen.  I hope it does for you too!