Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Something Savoury?

You've probably seen this blog before and if you have then you'll know that I don't ever make anything savoury. The title of the blog says it all "Sugarbomb Bakery, An explosion of sweetness". You couldn't confuse that amount of sugar with anything else!

When I was asked to audition last week I had to take an example of savoury and sweet baking with me. I racked my brain and I realised that over the last two years I haven't made anything savoury. I have in the past but sweetness has taken over my life recently. So I made some sun-blushed tomato, basil and cheddar muffins.

2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
1½ cups grated mature cheddar cheese
½ cup drained sun-blushed tomatoes, coarsely chopped
½ cup torn basil
1 cup milk
80g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4

Mix flour and salt together into a large bowl. Stir in cheese, sun-blushed tomatoes and basil. Beat together the milk, butter and egg.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix lightly, until just combined.
Spoon mixture evenly into 10 muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked and golden on top. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sugarbomb's Adventure in the Big City

Friday was a big day for me. I had an audition for a baking show in London. The Great British Bake-off is a new show that is being filmed by Love Productions.

I had a surprise email on Tuesday from a lady called Madeline who is one of the producers. She'd seen my blog and invited me to take part. To be honest I had to read the email a couple of times, I didn't actually believe it.

  • Is baking your hobby?
  • Do you enjoy making special food?
  • Can you turn out a great pie, a lovely cake or a tasty loaf?

Would you like to spend some time baking with some of Britain’s best bakers?

BBC2 are making a new series about amateur bakers which will be judged by some of Britain’s baking heroes. ‘The Great British Bake Off’ is looking for amateur bakers who are talented but can show the rest of Britain what great food can come from their region.

We hope it will be a lot of fun and in the end one baker will be crowned the UK’s best amateur baker.

So, I rang her and had a brief telephone interview. Next day there was an email asking me to come down to London on Friday with sweet and savoury baked items. I was at a loss as to what I should take with me. Something complicated? Or something tried and tested (and more importantly - loved!)? I had a look over the last two years oh my baking life and I realised I hadn't made anything savoury for ages.

In the end I went for cheese, sun-blushed tomato and basil muffins and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting.

I had a brief interview that went over the questions that I'd already answered on the telephone. Then there was an interview about my skill level when it came to baking different items. My cupcakes and muffins were taken to a judging area and that was it.

I received a call later on in the evening telling me I hadn't got through to the next round. Of course I was gutted but I still had the chance to try out for it. I would never have guessed that my week would end with a visit to London.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Luscious Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars aren't something generally found for sale in the UK. I've always been curious about them and I love lemon so I decided to give them a go.

They are a sort of shortbread with a set lemony custard topping. You can see the layers in the pictures.

I lovelovelovelovelove lemon bars. To be honest this isn't the first time I've made them, I made them last week and they were so good that I didn't even get to take pictures, they disappeared too quick!

Luscious Lemon Bars

150g/5oz/1¼ cups plain flour
90g/3½oz/7tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and diced
50g/2oz/½ cups icing sugar

Preheat the oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4
Line the base of a 20cm/8" square cake tin with baking parchment and lightly grease the sides of the tin.

Process the flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor until the mixture comes together as a firm dough. Press evenly into the base of the tin and spread smoothly using the back of a tablespoon. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden. Cool in the tin.

2 eggs
175g/6oz/scant 1 cup caster sugar
finely grated rind and juice of 1 large lemon
15ml/1 tbsp plain flour
2.5ml/½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Icing sugar for dusting - optional

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until frothy. Add the caster sugar a little t a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the lemon zest, juice, flour and bicarbonate of soda. Pour over the cookie base. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and golden.
Leave to cool slightly and cut into squares and dust lightly with icing sugar if required. Leave to cool completely.

Friday, 2 April 2010

So Vanilla... Extract

I've spoken before of my loathing for vanilla. Unfortunately vanilla goes into pretty much everything I make.

Behold Nielsen Massey Vanilla Extract.

This little bottle holds just under 24 teaspoons of precious vanilla extract and costs about £5.00

I was browsing the fabulous Joy The Baker website a couple of months ago when I stumbled across this:
So I decided to give it a try.

You will need a 70cl bottle of vodka or brandy and 10 vanilla pods that have been purchased on ebay for not much money.

Split open the vanilla pods by cutting almost to the top with a sharp knife. Feed vanilla pods into bottle of vodka. Leave for 3-4 months shaking it occasionally.

Vanilla extract 6 months on. I made two bottles and filled up my old empty Nielsen Massey bottles and gave them away for Christmas.