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: 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.