The Bake Off Bake Along: Bread Basket

Oh, Prue. Prue. I sympathise, I really do. We’ve all had that heart-shrinking, teeth-grinding ‘Nooooo!’ moment when we realise we have sent a message about a person to that person, or misdirected a work email, or foolishly texted an ex when drunk. You try, desperately, to recall the message you’ve put out into the ether, but it’s too late. Everyone has seen it. What is done cannot be undone.

I happened to be on Twitter when Prue casually revealed the winner of the Bake Off about nine hours before it actually aired, so I was ‘spoilered’ immediately. I didn’t really mind though. As anyone who knows me will know, I always want to know the end of everything. And I was glad that Sophie was our winner. It definitely seemed like the right choice out of the final three bakers.


I can’t quite believe I’ve managed to make it all the way through this year’s bake off bake along. It has involved a lot of rushed early morning baking in a panic. I’m glad I’ve limped through to the finish line, though, because it’s given me some very good weeks. Let’s not talk about the bad weeks. My particular favourites have been the peanut butter fondants and the cannoli. Happy days.


Fittingly, finals week was actually the trickiest week for me in terms of choosing a challenge. I didn’t have the kit (and I’m not sure I have the skill, to be honest) to go for an entremet. I wasn’t feeling inspired by the technical challenge. Ginger biscuits are fine, but very fiddly icing is not up my street – all about the look, not at all about the taste. So, somehow, making twelve loaves of bread started to seem like the sensible option.


I could have made my life slightly easier and done three full size loaves, or one batch of four small ones. But, in the end, I decided to make a proper go of it, safe in the knowledge that it will be at least a year before I put myself through this process again.

And actually, it went surprisingly well.


When you put your mind to it, it’s quite astonishing how much bread you can make in a morning. And because I was bound by the constraints of the Bake Off challenge – i.e. I had to make one spelt bread, one filled bread, and one shaped bread – I ended up making up some new recipes. Which I am often too lazy to do.

My final loaves were spelt boules with almonds and dates, wholemeal walnut loaves filled with blue cheese, and simple white plaits. I’ve never actually made a plaited loaf before, and even though it seems a bit pointless – since the fancy shape doesn’t in any way make the taste more interesting – I admit it was quite satisfying. I don’t think my bread would have been accused of being underproved or overworked. The walnut and blue cheese bread was stupidly delicious: James and I ate an embarrassing amount of it very quickly. And I’ve always liked baking with spelt, and fruit and nut bread is very satisfying. So, three thumbs up. If I had three thumbs. You know what I mean.


I’m not going to post the recipes here because three recipes in one post would be a bit much. Also, I was kind of winging it. But if you are particularly interested in any of the three, do let me know and I will send a recipe your way.

Goodbye for now, Bake Off. See you next year. I hope. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all my free weekend time now. I mean, probably still baking, to be honest. But in a less structured way.



The Bake Off Bake Along: Berry Cheesecake Choux Buns

The semi-final has come and gone, only the final remains and, if we’re honest, we’re all a bit surprised that it’s come to this, right? I sort of lost faith in the show after the Julia – Yan – Liam triple blow eviction debacle. But I continued watching because, really, I have nothing more entertaining to be doing at 8pm on a Tuesday night. Also, there’s the bake off bake along to consider. And I can’t really complain, because I never thought to make berry cheesecake choux buns before this. And I’m really quite glad they exist in my life now.

So I’d never even heard of craquelin before this week. And I did an entire culinary diploma. Also, it looks kind of like an odd skin-complaint, no? Anyway, I did this bake along at 6am on a Saturday morning because that was literally my only free time during the weekend. There was no way in hell I was going to make two different types of choux buns. One type was as much as I could be bothered with. Clearly I was not going to be making Les Miserables cake before sunrise, and I have made my feelings on insane technical challenges that take six hours and look impressive but taste only of sugar perfectly clear. So choux buns it was.


Actually, I’m so used to profiteroles that I’ve never really thought of doing anything different with choux buns. Other than filling them with cream and covering them in chocolate, I mean. Which is a perfectly delicious thing to do, so I shall continue to do it. But now a whole world of choux bun glory is open to me! Why I never thought of filling a choux bun with cheesecake before I do not know. Thank you, bake off bake along, for inspiring me. These were majorly tasty.



I went for a mixed berry cheesecake filling here and topped the buns with raspberries because, er, that’s what they had at the shop. But obviously you can use whatever berries you like or have.

Unfortunately, although these aren’t difficult to make, they don’t keep particularly well. As soon as you’ve filled your choux bun with cheesecake filling (or with anything, really), you’re working against the clock. Your beautiful crispy pastry will start to soften fairly fast. It’ll still taste excellent after a couple of hours even if it’s gone soft, but you won’t really have the textural contrast you’re after.

On the Bake Off they always make out like choux is really hard. I don’t know why, because it’s not. If anything, I actually find it easier than most other pastries, because you don’t have to faff about with resting it. Or keeping it cold. Or worrying about overworking it. Or rolling it out without cracks. Or any of that stuff, really. This recipe looks long but it’s not because it’s complicated. It’s because I am trying to carefully explain how to make choux in case you’ve never done it before.

This recipe will make around 25 choux buns, although obviously it depends wildly on how big you pipe them.


for the choux

220ml water
85g butter, cubed
105g plain flour
Pinch of salt
3 eggs, at room temperature

for the cheesecake filling

300g full fat cream cheese
50g icing sugar
150ml double cream
150g mixed berries, mashed with a fork

to finish

150g icing sugar
juice of a lemon
drop of purple food colouring, if you like
raspberries, or berries of choice, to top choux
around 3 biscuits, crushed to fine crumbs, to top choux
edible glitter, to finish (I did this because I have a cupboard absolutely crammed with baking decorations, but it adds absolutely nothing in terms of taste – I just like shiny things – so do skip it if you want)


  1. First, make your choux. Preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 6 – and you really do need a hot oven to make these puff up properly so if you know yours runs cold then maybe give it an extra 10 degrees. Put your water and your cubed butter into a medium saucepan on a medium heat and cook until the butter has melted, but don’t let it boil. Meanwhile, sieve your flour and salt together.
  2. When all your butter has melted into your water, turn the heat right up and bring it to a rolling boil – you’ll see the butter solids start to collect in the middle of the pan. Take it off the heat and, as quickly as you can, whack all your flour in at once and beat like mad with a wooden spoon until it’s all incorporated and shiny and pulling away from the sides. It should naturally form a kind of ball of paste. This is called your panade. You need to let the panade cool down a bit now, until it’s about skin temperature, otherwise it won’t absorb the egg properly. I normally move mine into a cold mixing bowl to speed this up.
  3. While your panade is cooling, crack your eggs into a jug and beat them lightly. When your panade is cool enough, start beating in the egg, a little at a time, until you’ve used 2/3 of it. This is really hard work with a wooden spoon but works completely fine with an electric whisk so that’s what I always do. When you have 2/3 of the egg in, check the consistency. You want a ‘reluctant six second dropping consistency’ (I know it sounds weird, that’s just what we were always taught at culinary school). All it means is that when you take a decent scoop of the mix onto a wooden spoon and hold it up the mixture should fall off, but quite reluctantly. After about six seconds, in fact. If you use large eggs, like I do, you probably won’t end up using them all.
  4. Pop your choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe it out onto baking trays in rounds. If you have good non-stick trays you don’t have to bother lining them – I never do – but if you’re worried them use baking paper. With a damp finger, press down the peaked tops of the buns (to stop them burning) then put the trays into your hot oven for 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes, your choux buns should be gloriously brown and puffed up (if they’re not, give them 5 minutes longer). Take out the tray, turn them all over, and use a skewer or a sharp knife to poke a little hole in the bottom of each bun, then put them back in the oven. This is to let the insides dry out a bit. You want to take them to what probably seems a bit darker and firmer than you would naturally. You need them to be crisp and strong because they are going to have a wet filling.
  6. While your choux is baking, make your cheesecake filling. Beat your cream cheese and icing sugar together briefly until smooth. Add your cream, and beat for a minute until your mixture thickens up a little. You want it firm enough to pipe into the buns. Fold through your berries. You have to mash them to make sure they’re not going to clog your piping bag later. Pop this mixture into the fridge until you need it.
  7. Prepare your icing. Mix your icing sugar with your lemon juice. You want a fairly thick icing so it doesn’t just fall off the choux buns, but if it looks too thick add a drop of water. Colour it, if you like.
  8. When your choux are baked, let them cool completely. This should only take ten minutes. When they are cool, put your cheesecake filling into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Using the nozzle to enlarge the steam holes you made in the base of the buns, pipe them full of cheesecake mix.
  9. Spoon a little icing onto the top of each bun. Finish with a berry, a sprinkling of biscuit crumbs, and glitter if you’re going all out.

The Bake Off Bake Along: Cumberland Rum Nicky

Is there even any point in talking about the baking this week? I know it’s the bake off bake along, and I do have some pictures of a Cumberland Rum Nicky to show you, but really, who cares about that now? I know I was cross last week, but that’s nothing compared to how I feel today.

We were sad when Julia left. We were shocked when Yan was sent home. But when Liam was booted off the Great British Bake Off, the nation agreed that it was the absolutely last straw and we were done, done I say, with the Bake Off. I mean, obviously we’re still watching it next week, but we won’t be bloody happy about it.

Honestly, I don’t want to be one of those people who is nasty about other people who are in the public eye on the internet. I really like Kate. She’s funny and interesting and obviously has a lot of baking knowledge. Of course, you only ever see the edited version of what’s actually happened when you watch something on television, and perhaps the impression the public are getting is incorrect. But it really did seem like Kate should have left the week Julia left, the week Yan left, and definitely the week Liam left. I mean, she dropped her Bedfordshire Clanger on the floor and then served them raw and she’s still in. And that’s on top of having several bad weeks. I mean, it’s just weird, isn’t it? I literally gasped in shock when Liam’s name was announced, and then I watched Twitter go absolutely mental.

Now that all my favourites have left the tent, I don’t even know who I’m rooting for. Sophie probably? She’s good. I like her. But I don’t know anymore. I feel like if I decide to like someone they are immediately going to get chucked out.


The Recipe

I was really quite tempted to give the Bedfordshire Clangers a go for this bake off bake along, but, as usual, I didn’t have time to do anything fancy. So I went for the Cumberland Rum Nicky. And you know what? It’s quite nice. It feels like a very Christmassy recipe for some reason. Actually, that reason is probably because I used spiced rum. Anyway, please ignore the fact that my lattice work looks like it was done by a particularly incompetent four year old child. I’m not great at intricate fiddly things at the best of times, especially when I’m rushing, and it seems like baking pastry only amplifies imperfections that don’t seem so bad when it’s raw.


Of course, it was only right and proper that I used Paul’s recipe for this Cumberland Rum Nicky. I mean, to be honest, I don’t think there’s another version I can use in any of the recipe books I’ve got knocking about. No complaints. It’s all pretty simple. It seems a bit odd that the pastry isn’t glazed in the recipe, particularly because it looks glazed in the photo, but not the end of the world.

Liam leaving though. That was the end of the world.


The Bake Off Bake Along: Cannoli

I have very strong feelings this week. Some of these feelings are related to the fact that Yan definitely should not have left the tent. I adore Yan and I would have been very happy if she’d have won. I really like Kate too, but I think she was weaker than Yan for Italian week and has been struggling for a little while, as has Stacey. It seems ridiculous than Yan went out, so much so that I got quite cross with Paul and Prue. But the bake off bake along must go on, and cannoli are happening.


This is the other thing I have strong feelings about this week: what they made in the tent. I felt like it wasn’t a great episode and the challenges didn’t hang together very well. Sfogliatelle didn’t seem like a great showstopper assignment, really, because most people don’t know what they are and don’t have a chance of making them, and because even when they’re made correctly they just don’t look very interesting. Pizza is too simple and dull for a technical challenge, especially when you have the bakers just make a margherita. I mean, pizza is great, but I’ve made it so many times that it’d be no fun for me to do as a bake along. And there didn’t seem to be much leeway given for the fact that it was stupidly hot in the tent. Also, with the budget for this show, surely they can afford to air-condition the marquee? Or put in big fans? Or even just open the sides?! It’s almost like they’re trying to make the bakers suffer.


But. But. The thing that redeemed this episode for me is that it included cannoli. I love cannoli. I have said it before and I will say it again. They are one of my absolute favourite desserts. But I have never made them before, because they look really hard. I don’t have a deep fat fryer. And you have to have cannoli tubes, and who has those?

Well, me. Now I have those. I purchased cannoli tubes for this bake off bake along. Which is nuts. But this felt like the time to finally bite the bullet and do it, because I have always wanted to be able to make cannoli myself.

Not going to lie: making cannoli is fairly labour intensive. It also requires quite a bit of kit. The dough itself isn’t too hard to put together, but then you need a pasta machine to make it thin enough to work with. As with fresh pasta, yes, you could use a rolling pin, but it would take a lot of time and effort to get the dough as thin as it should be. You’d then have a much easier time of it if you had a deep fat fryer. I don’t, so I just deep-fried my cannoli tubes in a pan of oil on the hob, and kept an eye on the temperature with a sugar thermometer, but it was quite hard to regulate and a fryer that kept a consistent temperature would have been so much easier. Finally, you do need cannoli tubes. Luckily they’re really cheap, but I did have to go to the effort of actually ordering them online.

So, all in all, this was a stupid thing to do. But they were so tasty. I was very proud of my little cannoli shells, which bubbled and went golden and crisp, exactly as Paul and Prue had said they should. I feel like making cannoli in and of itself was enough of a challenge, so I haven’t made three different types. I sort of intended to, but when it came down to it I just ran out of time. I stuck with classic flavours: ricotta; mixed peel; dark chocolate. Happy days. They were really delicious, and I was actually quite proud of myself, which I’m not usually after these bakes!


The Recipe

Obviously I didn’t have a clue what I was doing here, so I slavishly followed this recipe. It all seemed to work without any issues, although I did end up adding some extra flour to the dough, because it seemed a bit too sticky and difficult to work with at first. I also dipped the ends of the cannoli tubes in chocolate because… well, because dipping things in chocolate means never having to give a reason.

Sadly, cannoli don’t keep very well, because as soon as you pipe the ricotta mix into the shells they start to soften and go soggy. It just means you have to eat them all very quickly. Which is tragic, obviously.


The Bake Off Bake Along: Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastéis de Nata)

Whoa, that’s a long blog post title. On the plus side, I have had to write out the phrase ‘Portuguese Custard Tarts’ so many times this week that I can finally spell Portuguese without second-guessing myself. Thank goodness for the bake off bake along, eh? I (along with the nation, I imagine) was really sad to see Julia go this week. She was so awesome and, although I admit she had a bad week, I didn’t think it was going to be her in for the chop. Even though we’re well into the competition now, I still wouldn’t like to place bets on who is going to win. I quite like that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious front-runner anymore.

Is it just me, or does ‘make four separate but thematically connected savoury pies elaborately decorated with intricate shortcrust pastry designs’ seem more like a showstopper than a signature challenge? I mean, what? And although the the showstopper itself was right up my alley, I couldn’t quite find the time this week. I had a very busy weekend so, as usual, I was planning to take the path of least resistance with the bake off bake along. Which seemed like it would be the technical challenge. I know, I’m a fool.


I realise I sound very lazy in these posts. Don’t get me wrong, I am joining in… I’m just not making the maximum level of effort. I even (whisper it) bought my puff pastry this week instead of making it myself. I know. But, in fairness, I was planning to make it myself, until I looked up recipes for Portuguese Custard Tarts, and every one of them included some variation on the words ‘unwrap your package of pastry, roll it out…’. Who am I to argue?


And the recipe?

I am not going to recreate the recipe here, because I didn’t change it at all. It would seem a bit disingenuous to put it on my own blog. I worked from this. Portuguese Custard Tarts didn’t really seem like the kind of thing you can mess around with to add your own individual twist. Also, I had no idea what I was doing.


By the way, these are actually quite difficult. I thought this would be pretty simple (I mean, I’ve made regular custard tarts! They were fine!), but they were a bit of a nightmare. Maybe it was the recipe I was working from, but this was the faffiest custard I have ever made. Also, perhaps you just need to have a very particular type of oven, but mine didn’t bake up quite as they were supposed to. I didn’t get the perfect blistered dark spots on the top of the custard. I wish I had a blowtorch. My pastry was right on the edge of burning, though, so I couldn’t leave the tarts in the oven for longer in the hope of getting that caramelised top.

Anyway. I’m feeling a bit ‘meh’ about this week. Not my favourite bake along ever, by any means. Still, next week is Italian week, so how bad could that really be?


The Bake Off Bake Along: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondants

Ah, pudding week. Always a great time for the bake off bake along, particularly as we come into autumn. The temperature outside is dropping, and staying inside with a fluffy blanket and a selection of puddings seems only right and proper. I am a big fan of the steamed pudding, and I was all set to make one of those. Until the technical challenge came along. And it was chocolate fondants. Or molten chocolate cakes, or whatever Paul is calling them these days. (We’re not even going to talk about the showstopper, obviously).

Anyway, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to make a chocolate fondant. They are one of my absolute favourite things. And filled with peanut butter? Does life get any better? Don’t answer that. If sitting cross-legged on the living room floor in my pajamas eating chocolate fondant for breakfast at 9am on a Sunday morning is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.


I’m becoming pretty attached to this year’s crop of bakers now. Sophie is adventurous and awesome. She was in the Army and she’s training to be a stuntwoman! Who wouldn’t want to be friends with her? Liam is adorable and funny, and I’m always rooting for him to do well. I adore Julia and I love the unique perspective she brings to things, having been raised in Russia. Yan’s flavours always sound great and I really admire her scientific approach to everything. James seemed like a lovely guy, and I was sad to see him go, but it did feel like his time.


But on to chocolate fondants and the bake off bake along. Sometimes people make a big fuss about chocolate fondants being difficult (especially on MasterChef), but really, they’re just undercooked chocolate cakes. As long as you’ve got a good recipe and you know your oven, you’re golden.

On the show, they made their cakes with peanut butter centres, which I am all for. Chocolate and peanut butter are a winning combination. However, I also had some salted caramel left from last week, so I thought I’d do half the fondants with peanut butter and half with salted caramel. I did not regret this decision. I also added some simple berries to bring a bit of contrast and sharpness to the dessert.

Happy, happy days, my friends. Happy days. It’s times like this when I love the bake off bake along.



My favourite recipe for these is from the great Nigella, and I’ve not changed a great deal because her ratios are perfect.


You can skip the contrasting centres and the berries if you like, but both are excellent if you have them lying around

You will need 6 individual pudding moulds, or darioles, for this recipe. It’s really not a tricky thing to bake, but I appreciate that not everyone has darioles. Sadly, I don’t think normal ramekins would work for this, because they’re not as deep, so the puddings would be likely to cook through and you wouldn’t get the molten centre. Darioles aren’t expensive though, if you’d like to have a go at this recipe and you don’t have any to hand…

You can also serve these with cream or ice cream, but honestly, with the liquid centres I don’t think you need anything extra.

This recipe makes six individual puddings. If you don’t need six at once, keep the spares in the fridge until you want to eat them, and cook when you’re ready.



350 grams good dark chocolate (I like Green & Black’s 70% for this)
50 grams soft butter (plus more for greasing)
cocoa powder, for dusting
150 grams caster sugar
4 large eggs (beaten with pinch of salt)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 grams Italian 00 flour if you have it, or plain is fine if you don’t (I have tried both and prefer the texture from pasta flour)
6 tsp smooth peanut butter or salted caramel (or both!)
a handful of fresh or frozen mixed berries


  1. Pop your chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water to melt, and stir it occasionally. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and pop a baking sheet in there to heat up (unless you are cooking the puddings later). Butter your six darioles, line the base of each with a little circle of baking paper, then dust them with cocoa powder and tap out the excess.
  2. When your chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the heat to cool a little. In another bowl, cream together your butter and sugar until well-combined. Gradually beat in your eggs and salt, and then your vanilla. Sprinkle the flour over the batter, and then mix again until well combined. Add your melted chocolate, then mix again until well combined and smooth – you should have a fairly thin, glossy batter.
  3. Divide two thirds of the batter between your six darioles, until they’re each around two thirds full, then add a generous teaspoon of peanut butter (or salted caramel) to each. Divide the remainder of the batter between your darioles, covering the filling, and smooth the tops.
  4. If you’re cooking them later, pop your moulds into the fridge until needed. If you’re cooking right away, pop them in the oven for 10 minutes (12 if cooking from the fridge). If you’re serving with frozen berries, just microwave them for one minute until they’re warm and releasing their juices. To serve, turn each pudding out onto a plate, top with a spoonful of berries, and eat immediately.

The Bake Off Bake Along: Chocolate & Pistachio Caramel Cake

I was embarrassingly excited about caramel week from the moment I heard of its existence. ‘Now that’, I thought, ‘is going to be a fun bake off bake along week’. I mean, who doesn’t love caramel? People who are wrong, that’s who.

Stroopwafels are one of my favourite things ever… but I don’t have a waffle iron. I was very torn. There was a serious moment when I considered buying one (I got to the ‘looking up prices on Amazon’ stage), but it seems a bit too insane and profligate to buy an expensive bit of kit just for the sake of making one bake off bake along technical challenge. Even on caramel week.

Realistically I would never use it again, and in my teeny tiny kitchen every single bit of kit has to be there for a good reason. It’s a bit rubbish, actually, for them to set a technical challenge that requires an obscure bit of equipment, so people at home generally can’t join in. Also, considering that every single person messed up the stroopwafel caramel, I reckon they were either given insufficient instructions or insufficient time. I mean, if half of them messed it up then fine – but all of them?


So, down to a choice of two things. I absolutely love a millionaire’s shortbread, but since I have done the signature challenge every single week for the bake off bake along so far, I thought this was perhaps my one chance to give a showstopper a go. You know, when it wasn’t something insane, like a biscuit board game or a bread sculpture. A caramel cake seems pretty reasonable. I make stupid huge cakes fairly often.

It felt like cursing myself to think this, but I have never been particularly scared by the concept of making caramel. One of the things I bake most often is salted caramel brownies, so I make caramel for those all the time. And it hasn’t gone wrong yet. Cue targeted lightning strike from the heavens directed at my kitchen and everything blowing up.


It was actually fine. But I did cheat slightly in that I didn’t use a spun sugar decoration. I’ve done spun sugar at culinary school, and I love playing with it, but… well, to be honest, it’s an absolute and total pain cleaning up little bits of spun sugar when they are scattered and hardened all over your kitchen, and now that I’m working full time I have to cram these bake along sessions into sneaky little grabbed hours.

So here we have it: a chocolate brownie and pistachio cake, sandwiched with a salted caramel layer and a pistachio buttercream, decorated with raspberries, homemade honeycomb, and pistachio caramel shards. It’s not the prettiest thing ever. It’s fairly messy, and I was rushing. But it was tasty. And it has caramel, chocolate, and pistachio. And those are three of my favourite things.


So where’s the recipe?

This might be a bit of a cop out, but I’m not sharing the recipe, because it would be incredibly long and complicated. Two different types of cake, salted caramel, pistachio buttercream, honeycomb, pistachio shards… I am assuming no one is going to be casually making this! Do let me know in the comments if you’re particularly after the recipe for any of the elements of the cake and I will happily provide it.

Another week, another bake off bake along done, and enough caramel made to use up all the white sugar in my baking cupboard. And there was a really serious amount of sugar in my baking cupboard.

The story so far: bake along one, two, and three


The Bake Off Bake Along: White Chocolate and Apricot Spiced Teacakes

I was pretty excited for this edition of the bake off bake along, because I love bread. Completely love it. I bake bread quite a bit at home, and I always love bread week on GBBO. But was it just me, or was this a bit of a lacklustre bread week? In my head, a teacake is a biscuit chocolate marshmallow type deal. I have never even eaten a bread-style teacake, let alone made one. And the technical challenge seemed a little dull to me. I’ve never heard of or eaten a cottage loaf either, but isn’t it basically just standard white bread in an unusual shape? Bread sculptures are all well and good, but they’ve done that before. This isn’t even the first time someone’s made a bread octopus on the show. I didn’t think the episode as a whole was particularly exciting.

But still. Even an unexciting episode of Bake Off is enough to make me pretty happy. And the bake off bake along is a great excuse to try something new.


I’ve been making a real effort to actually, er, learn the bakers’ names this week (did not have that nailed last week), and I was very happy to see Julia get star baker. Probably because she’s from Siberia, so in my head she’s a kindred spirit (I used to live in Siberia, in case that connection wasn’t clear).

Also next week is caramel week!!! One exclamation mark was not enough to demonstrate my excitement. I cannot wait for that bake off bake along session.

Before that happy moment, however, we’ve got the bread week bake along to get through. I’ve gone for teacakes, mostly because I found them a more interesting prospect than a cottage loaf and obviously I am not making a bread sculpture. And you know what? They were bloody delicious.



It seemed sensible to start with Paul’s Hollywood’s recipe, for obvious reasons.


The recipe instructed me to make eight teacakes, so I obediently did so. But they were absolutely massive! Like pillows! I mean, worse things have certainly happened, but if I was making them again I’d divide the dough into ten pieces.


500g strong white bread flour
10g salt
60g golden caster sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
10g instant yeast
50g butter, softened
300ml tepid water
Flavourless oil for kneading, such as vegetable or sunflower
150g dried apricots, finely chopped
100g white chocolate, cut into small chunks
1 beaten egg, to glaze


  1. I made all this in a mixer with a dough hook, because I am lazy. Pop the flour, salt, sugar, allspice, and yeast into your large mixing bowl. Add your butter and roughly three quarters of your measured water, and either begin kneading by hand or turn on your mixer. Gradually add more water until you end up with a soft (but not too wet or batter-like) dough – I found mine was perfect with all 300ml, but you may need more or less, depending on lots of factors like the absorbency of your flour. If you’re kneading by hand, tip your dough onto a lightly oiled surface and go at it until your dough is beautifully silky and smooth, probably around ten minutes. If you’re using a mixer, just let it do the work. Either way, lightly oil your bowl, cover it (I use clingfilm), and leave your dough to rise until at least doubled in size – a long, gentle prove will give your a better flavour in your dough. I left mine for two hours.
  2. Get two baking trays ready, lining them with silicone or baking paper. Pop your proved dough onto a lightly floured counter, and pull it into a rough rectangle shape. Scatter your apricots and white chocolate over it, and then roll your dough up like a swiss roll – I find this helps to get an even distribution of fruit and chocolate from the off. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it feels like the extras are well distributed.
  3. Weigh your dough, then divide it into ten equal pieces. Shape each into a ball, then place it on your baking tray and press it down gently with the flat of your palm to flatten it a little. Brush each with beaten egg, then place the baking trays into plastic bags and leave the teacakes to prove until doubled in size again – at least another hour. Heat your oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6.
  4. Bake your teacakes for ten to fifteen minutes (mine took twelve), until risen, golden, and smelling amazing. Cool on a wire rack or do what I did and eat immediately with butter.

This bake off bake along is not particularly great for anyone trying to eat healthily. I think all my bakes have contained chocolate so far. Although admittedly that’s my own fault.