We're loving 2018 Great British Bake Off, and We love a challenge!
Week One: BISCUIT WEEK
Traditionally the first week is Cake Week, but this year it went biscuity. The signature bake challenge was to bake a batch of a 'regional biscuits', so Louise baked Bristol Biscuits.
These raisin and cinnamon biscuits need cassia oil, which was ordered from Health4All if you need your own supply. Make sure you get the edible version and not the massage oil!!
Cassia oil has a lot of health benefits, apparently, including being an aid to circulation, an anti-depressant, and something which supposedly helps with diarrhoea and sickness. Essentially, it's a Chinese cinnamon oil, distilled from the steaming of the leaves and bark.
The biscuits were easy to make (recipe available here), but it was quite a wet mix, not great for shaped cookies. The biscuit fingers came out best. They are soft, not a crunchy biscuit, quite like a light shortbread. Bristol Biscuits are also called 'Easter Biscuits' so Louise made them extra Easter-like by drizzling some green icing on top.
As for the taste, they're just like a cinnamon biscuit, but without the colouration the powdered spice can bring. Louise says "I'm glad I've finally be able to bake them - living in Bristol, if felt like I really had to sometime!"
Week Two: CAKE WEEK
Our favourite week! This week saw traybakes feature as a signature challenge. Louise has baked a cherry tray bake, and made it a little fancier. They're named 'Patricia's', after her Grandma, who loved cherry cake.
Don't they look delicate?
Week Three: BREAD WEEK
Always a good week in the tent, this series saw a signature bake of Chelsea Buns. Criticism from the judges on the show were things like 'over baked', 'under proved' and 'not enough filling'... Louise says she sympathises with all of these!
Her first ever attempt at Chelsea Buns wasn't bad at all, but she rolled the dough too thick so they took longer to bake, the dough didn't rise when proving, and Louise ran out of currants - but saved it with some cherries, yay!
What do you think?
Week Five: SPICE WEEK
Spice week's signature bake was a ginger cake.
"This one was a lot of fun," says Louise, "and I love a spiced cake! My hand slipped on the cinnamon, but the cake wasn't any worse for it." She admits the photo's not great - tiredness and being sick of cleaning up sloppy buttercream to blame! - but you get the idea. The cake was moist and sticky, definitely one we're adding to our repertoire at 280 Bakes.
Bake the cake Louise did by following this recipe - with or without the extra cinnamon! Louise doubled the recipe to make a three sponge tower, and made the caramel buttercream a toffee flavour instead - warning, it was a bit sloppy. Top tip is to make the buttercream as thick as possible but still spreadable to get defined butercream filling and tidier outside decoration (butercream and crumbed ginger biscuits).
Week Six: PASTRY WEEK
Now, this was always going to be interesting. Louise has never (!!) made pastry before, and certainly not filo pastry. The veggie samosa recipe from BBC Good Food looked good, so she went with that one... Delicious, but definitely not fine filo pastry!
Batch two, Louise used shop-bought filo for apple pie samosas. Trading the raisins for super seed mix (chia, etc.), they were a great pudding last night. You can see the difference in pastry!
"I'll be much more likely to make my own shortcrust pastry in the future now, having seen how easy that type can be," says Louise, "but I'm definitely still going to buy ready-made filo!"
Next week is VEGAN WEEK - stay tuned for an update on Louise's challenge!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
In today's blog post we'll be showing you how to recruit a baker!
Much of this will apply to another and many other job vacancies, and having been on the end of some very poor recruitment practices in my time, I thought it would be an interesting blog to post.
Why post this now, you ask? Well, we've just opened recruitment for our Stroud Baker position! Find out more about the vacancy here, and let us know if you're interested in applying to join our merry crowd of home bakers!
What will you be buying the baker in your family this Christmas? What would YOU like, as a baker?
The Team @ 280 Bakes
It's Black Friday! *groan*
Avoid the queuing and the mayhem brought on by mass consumerism today, and enjoy a quiet day with our top three recommended things to do today.
It had to be our top recommendation, of course! Baking is fun, you can bond with your kids over it, and the Gods are in your favour if you follow one of our amazing recipes:
Seasonal pumpkin bakes are some of our favourites
Tres Leches - if you fancy something creamy
Try Bread Pudding for a squishy, fun time!
Swiss Roll - for something a little more challenging
2. Go on a leaf hunt
The leaves are all pretty much off the trees, so head up to your nearest park and send the kids on a leaf hunt. Look for a) the most symmetrical leaf, b) the best colour leaf, c) the biggest leaf. You could even download a leaf identification app (this one's from the Natural History Museum) to help them learn something on your Autumn stroll. It'll keep them occupied for a while, at least!
3. Visit someone you've not seen for a while
Bring a smile to a relative or old friend who lives nearby. Walking there could even link in tip no.2, if you see enough trees. And don't show up empty handed - they'd love a piece of your cake from tip no. 1!
Wishing you all a calm Black Friday,
The Team @ 280 Bakes
Over 65% of our customers are vegan. If you're a fan of celebrity culture or not, you may be surprised that there is a growing 'celebrity' population who are becoming more aware of their diet's impact on the planet, too.
If you're vegan, why not try one of our vegan-friendly cakes for your next party or visitor popping in? We'd love to bake for you and get your feedback. If we've not baked the recipe you want before, you'll get 10% off!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
As the Great British Bake Off returns, our Louise shares a review of the first episode of this new look programme favourite.
I watched the first episode of my favourite BBC programme with a serious sense of nervousness as Channel 4 took the reins last night… I wanted to hate it, groans of “it’s not the same”, ready on my lips…
However, I was genuinely relieved to see not a lot had changed, despite the new presenters and judges at the helm. The innuendoes were ever-present, the contestants seemed familiar yet new, and the baking standard was impressive to say the least (from most!). For some reason I’d expected a new theme at the opening credits, but I reminded myself it was still the same show, just refreshed. Even the gingham alter still had a part, hooray!
Here are my thoughts – what do you think?
Judges & Presenters – the new line up
I wasn’t expecting a lot from the show, and in particular, the new judges, to be honest. And as you can imagine, Twitter was rife with people mourning the loss of Mel and Sue. One viewer said: "Mel and Sue were like the fun aunties that make family gatherings more entertaining, I miss them so much #gbbo". Someone else wrote: "1 minute in and I feel like I'm cheating on Mary, Mel and Sue. #GBBO2017". I hope the three of them were watching the first of the new shows together, with lots of gin and sponge cake!
I don’t like either Noel Fielding or Sandy Toksvig from previous things they’ve done, but they didn’t repel me half as much as I’d imagine they would. Prue, I’m not convinced about. Some of her comments were a bit, well, “duhh…” I mean, she’s never heard of a cake with no fat or eggs in it? Hello, she’s obviously never tried our vegan cakes! A cookery writer and restaurateur, but with bread-bonkers Paul and two presenters who don’t have anything foodie about them (Noel has refused to eat any cake this series, for goodness sake!), surely we needed a cakey bod as the second judge. She has yet to impress me, but some have hope she’ll reinvent Bake Off… Saying that, I did like the little nods to the history of the show Noel and Sandy did. It brought a bit of cosy nostalgia to the show – hope it continues.
There’s a classic line up of someone who looks like they were put in to have an easy choice for the first loser, a homosexual, a baker with international heritage, an older ‘experienced’ lady, ethnic minority representation and a young one who looks like he’ll win hearts (Liam). I’ve yet to see anyone in a wheelchair… maybe next year.
I don’t think Stacey will last long, personally, having failed in the Showstopper with her cakey handbag, and binned a previous bake, and Yan won’t go far, having forgotten to turn on the oven in last night’s episode… My personal tips for the top, based on a whole three bakes so far, are the two Scousers (Flo – the oldest ever contestant at 71 years old – and Kate), Steven (rightful Star Baker for episode one) and Sophie. These guys have discipline and skill, but in my heart, I have to support the Bristol rep – Go Chris!
My initial reaction to my favourite of the three challenges, the Signature Bake, was “Two whole hours to make a fruity cake?!” Easy peasy, you’d think, but I like to think this is the challenge I’d rise to best of the three. However, some of the contestants clearly needed the time, binning their first efforts.
Julia (from West Sussex, born in Siberia) made a delicious looking Courgette and Lemon Sponge – I’d love that recipe, if she’s reading!! I didn’t catch who made the Bundt, but I thought that was brave, for the first cake. They are enormous and not the easiest to judge when properly cooked. And those who plumped for a sandwich sponge – good call, quick to bake!
The Technical Challenge was one I actually think I could, and will do; this is normally where I’d come unstuck on the show, not knowing what the finished article is supposed to look like or how any specialist ingredients may behave. It reminded me I have a Swiss Roll tin I’ve yet to use, so watch this space!
I did wonder, during the Technical, why it was dark outside? Normally the show is filmed on Saturday and Sundays through the day…
Finally, the Showstopper. The contestants were set the challenge of creating an ‘illusion cake’ – one that didn’t in fact look like a cake at all, and some awesome ideas came forth. Considering it was the ‘toughest first Showstopper’ of a series ever, the bakers didn’t disappoint. I was impressed by the detail on Yan’s ‘Banana-Ramen’, despite my feeling she won’t last many weeks in the tent, wowed by Flo’s watermelon triumph, and double wowed by Steven’s BLT. AMAZING. Prue said exactly what I said (to myself, lonely in my living room – El Husbandio is NOT interested in that show!)… The taste buds would be fooled by what the eye could see. I don’t think I’d like to try the pork pie cake for that reason – ick, too confusing for my veggie pallete! – but Liam’s pancakes were perfect. They’d fool anyone!
Being able to skip the ad breaks is GOLD.
Favourite Quote: When Paul called someone’s chocolate rolls “Chunky Monkeys”.
In the end, the right person was crowned Star Baker and the right person had their oven gloves removed.
The show is said to have given Channel 4 its highest audience since the Paralympic opening ceremony in 2012. Well played, Channel 4, well played, but you still have a way to the 8 million GBBO viewer record set by the Beeb.
I look forward to Biscuit Week next week – I’m sure I’ll be as addicted as every other year by then!
Owner, 280 Bakes
Cake Friday, someone's birthday... there's always a reason for cake at work, but which office cake are you?!
“I’m not saying we need to ban such treats. But we do need a change in culture. When people are going out to the shops and buying cake and sweets they should at least consider buying smaller quantities and making them available only with lunch meals” says Professor Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery.
So could the great tradition of the office charity day bake sale, the routine of 'Cake Fridays', and in-office birthday celebrations really be threatened? I doubt it! Cakes have been a pick-me-up in every office I've ever worked in, and everyone enjoys a little treat. Some have more will-power than most, for sure, but everything in moderation, I figure.
In honour of this 'terrifying' announcement from the Docs, we're asking today,
Which office cake are you?
- Rich and velvety smooth
- All your colleagues seem to like you
- Efficient, no indulgent extras, slim line
- A little nutty...
- Better in bite sized portions
- Melts under pressure
- You have it together, you can be relied upon
- A classic, you've been around a long time
- A fan of fresh raspberries
- You're the one always offering to make the next brew
- A caffeine hit gets you going in the morning
- You start to 'flag' a little around 3pm... time for another strong coffee!
- You're the best dressed in the office
- You enjoy making people smile
- You pay attention to detail
I'm a mixture of Coffee Cake and A Showstopper, I think.
Cake in the office: Does it get much more 'Friday Feeling' than that?!
'Friday Fruit' just doesn't have the same excitement as 'Cake Friday'. Keep eating, cake lovers!
Mention this blog post when you order your next office birthday cake and receive 10% off! Offer ends 31st September 2017.
Louise @ 280 Bakes
Join our Wimbledon sweepstake and win!
All you have you need to do to enter is email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message via our contact page with your name, phone number and chosen MIXED DOUBLES couple (the number is fine, list below). Entry costs £2, payment is via Paypal only to the above email address.
All profits will go to one of our chosen charities, Macmillan Cancer Care, so your money will go to a worthwhile cause.
The Mixed Doubles Wimbledon Teams
(from today 6th July - 1 day in so a couple of teams have already been knocked out)
1. J.Murray & M.Hingis - claimed
2. N.Skupski & A.Smith
3. J.Salisbury & K.Dunne
4. S.Darcis & E.Mertens - claimed
5. L.Broady & N.Broady
6. R.Jebavy & L.Hradecka
7. M.Mirnye & E.Makarova
8. A.Molteni & X.Knoll - claimed
9. P.Petzschner & K.Flipkins
10. D.Sharan & Z.Yang
11. K.Skupski & J.Rae
12. E.Roger-Vasselin & A.Hlavackova
13. L. Kubot & Y-J.Chan
14. S.Lipsky & A.Kudryavtseva
15. J.Peers & S.Lisicki
16. J-P.Smith & S.Stephens
17. M.Demoliner & M.Matinez Sanchez
18. M.Matkowski & K.Peschke
19. J.Cabal & A.Spears
20. N.Monroe & A.Muhammed
21. A.Sitak & O.Savchuk - claimed
22. M.Pavic & L.Kichenok
23. M.Daniell & D.Jurak
24. R.Klassen & K.Srebotnik
Teams need to be claimed by participants (including payment) by the 7pm on the evening before the final: Saturday 15th July 2017. The sweepstake is open to anyone in the UK, so please do share this blog or our posts on Facebook. Brownies will be posted to any UK address, and Macmillan will receive a cheque the week following the final. If the winning team is not picked, we will make the donation but no brownies will be baked.
Best of luck!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
How do I get hold of a Bristol Food Tour voucher?
Simply order a cake from us during May, and we'll drop round a voucher for you when we deliver your cake. Vouchers are limited to one per order. Tours must be booked for dates between May and the end of August. Please contact the Bristol Food Tour for any specific queries or bookings. Bespoke tours for birthdays or team 'away days' can be arranged.
The ladies who set up the Bristol Food Tour company in 2016 were inspired by foreign city food tours in India and the USA. They caught the bug, and have made a successful business from the idea right here in Bristol. The unique tours the team currently offer are vegan ones, the original Stokes Croft tour, Southville area, and 'South of the River' tours, with more themes to come later this year. The tours include stories about the local area and Bristol's history, an introduction to the city's independent food scene and - most importantly - sampling some of the finest food & drink the city has to offer. Hen Dos have proven a popular customer base, and you definitely get value for money, with around 10 eating establishments sampled over each tour
Tegan: Such a fun family day out, Jo was a fantastic tour guide, and even though I have lived in Bristol for about 6 years now, there were plenty of places I had never even thought to go to! The value for money is superb- endless treats.. Couldn't believe how much we squeezed into 3 hours!
Jenni: Can't recommend it enough and I think it would be a perfect idea for a team trip or to kick off a hen weekend!
Anthony: Whether you're staying in Bristol for any length of time or you're a local, if you like your food then this is a must to do activity!
The boss’s trip made us seriously consider… How can cake make camping even more enjoyable, and which type of cake to take? We have all the solutions you need!
Sticking to the diet
Maintaining a well-behaved nutritional intake can be difficult while camping; fish and chips on the way home to the campsite, a hearty fry-up in the morning, and convenient bottled sugary drinks over water when it’s a trek across a field to collect… However, our Skinny Chocolate Cake or our Low Fat Banana Cake would solve this problem. You can justify a slice or two of these bakes.
Food storage and animals
Louise is taking the dog along with her, and won’t have anywhere really safe to keep food away from curious little mouths, other than in the already full cool box. Given the lack of proper food storage, and the fact chocolate is poisonous to dogs, we suggest a zesty lemon cake. It doesn't need to be refrigerated, it'll stay together well, and there's no 'evil' chocolate elements.
Store precious cargo in the car’s glove box for extra security!
Location based cakes
Why not make your choice of cake relevant to where you're going camping?
If you're heading to the south-west, take in some local culture with a cider apple cake - it won't get you pissed, but it'll bring out your west country spirit.
Going to Wales? Take some Welsh cakes - they keep really well, as a bonus.
Roughing it in Ireland calls for a nice big Chocolate Guinness cake ...
How about some 'proper English' cake for when you're in Kent, England's Garden? We recommend a Victoria Sponge for here.
Camping in Scotland and a round or two of shortbread are a perfect pair.
Top tips for camping with cakes:
1. Pack a good knife for cutting decent slices.
2. Use a cake tin – you may think it’s overkill, but it’s great storage; dry, animal proof, easy to pack.
3. Plan ahead – vegan cakes often last longer than standard cakes, so take one of our vegan home bakes for later in the week, if you’re going for a longer trip.
When you’re sitting on a picnic bench, basking in the sunshine, enjoying a slice of home baked cake, you’ll be grateful for your cake-based forethought.
When the rain is hammering on your canvas overhead, you’ll be grateful for the little pick-me-up of a delicious slice of cake. Perfect with a cuppa!
Order a homemade cake for your camping trip now!
A little bird told us Louise will be taking a lemon cake with her this trip. Safe travels!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
Welcome to the 280 Bakes blog! Most posts are by our team, but if you fancy guest blogging, give us a shout!
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