As the Great British Bake Off returns, our Louise shares a review of the first episode of this new look programme favourite.
**SPOILERS ALERT **
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?!
So, the Royal College of Surgeons has warned us off cakes at work. They encourage overeating, tooth decay and are a contributing factor to obesity. Who’d have thought?
“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?
Low Fat, Low Sugar Chocolate Cake
- 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
A Victoria Sponge
- 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!
We've opened our Wimbledon sweepstake this morning - place your bets!
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
Our customers are all about good food (and quite rightly so!). With this in mind, we've paired up with the Bristol Food Tour (tBFT) this month to give our customers free vouchers to put towards an amazing foodie city walking tour with tBFT.
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.
Tell me more about tBFT...
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
Some recent reviews...
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!
Louise is going camping next weekend, and she will baking for the occasion. Any excuse… A tenuous link to cake, you may think, but we’ve got a blog out of it!
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
This Saturday, 280 Bakes will be out in Bristol litter picking to help improve the state of the street our HQ is located in. This is part of a community scheme called the 'Great British Spring Clean', run by Keep Britain Tidy. Community groups, workplaces, schools and individuals can sign up to litter pick a street near them, and to promote a healthy, clean neighbourhood.
Read more about the 'Great British Spring Clean' here.
You're invited to join us - and there will be free cupcakes for the first 12 people! Find out more about our event here, along with other forthcoming events you can join us for.
Saturday 4th March, 2-3pm
Meeting at the junction of Stile Acres and Broadlands Drive
Please bring hi-vis jackets if you have them, and hard-wearing gloves. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Bin bags will be provided.
See you there!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
We are so proud to announce that...
We have baked our 280th cake order!
Since 280 Bakes opened officially in June last year, we have baked and delivered 280 orders (which means many more than 280 cakes when you count events and individual cupcakes) to homes and businesses in the Bristol and Portishead area. Celebrating 280 orders may seem odd, but not when you have a name of 280 Bakes!
To mark this 'once in a business lifetime' occasion, the team has had a lot of fun this week.
We were tasked to bake one of the digits of '280!' for a grand photo of cake - see above. Baker Emma was unfortunately unable to join us for our *glam* photo shoot (thanks to Central Library for hosting!), but Destiny, Debbie and I met to show off our individual cakes. And my, were they individual!
I went with a favourite of vegan apple cake (gluten free, with my new salted caramel topping) for the number '2' we needed, Emma baked the number '8' in Madeira sponge with our logo on top, Destiny's '0' was a vanilla sponge colour splash of flowers and butterflies, and Debbie iced her way to a delicious '!' shaped apricot jam sponge. Thanks for being so game, #Team280!
Definitely an excuse for a team photo (minus Emma, sad face).
Big thanks goes to Claire Ayres who placed the 280th order - a Cookie Monster birthday cake for her husband. Enjoy the wine, Claire, on us!
We'd like to say a HUGE thanks to ALL our customers over the last nine months, who have helped us get to the auspicious number of 280 orders so quickly. Without you, our business wouldn't exist!
Well done team, and thanks for your hard work and enthusiasm! You rock!
500 orders would probably be the next significant milestone... Any guesses to when that might happen?! Leave us a comment below, and order a cake to help us get on the way!
Owner, 280 Bakes
It seems a lot longer ago to our Louise than just three weeks that she was sunning herself in Mexico.... Sunbathing, eating local seafood, swimming... she even found time to send us some cakey holiday snaps!
Take a look at what Mexican cakes typically look like - which do you fancy?
They all look delicious - we'll have to do a 'work trip' to Mexico sometime to taste for ourselves!!!
That's our 'confused pondering' look too, Nadiya!
Can anyone help with these Bake Off related questions for us? We'd love to know the answers!
1. Do they actually film only on weekends, or is the series made over a few weeks?
2. How do camera operators not get get in shot? The show is shot from the left of the tent, we get that, but there must be a degree of long-lensing for the contestants on the far side. How do the bakers know they're being films?
3. Which country house estate is this series at? They should totally use the fact they're the Bake Off tent location to attract more visitors!
4. Where do the ingredients come from? Is there a local Sainsbury's?!
And finally... Who will be presenting next year on 'that other channel'??
You know you always fancy a slice of cake or a munch on a brownie while watching the Bake Off... We can help! Place your orders for home made cake by Tuesday 6pm and we'll make sure it's with you in time for the final episode on Wednesday night. Name your cake! (Bristol, UK, only)
The Team @ 280 Bakes
We, as we know you, have been glued to the Great British Bake Off, this year more than ever. Tissues at the ready - it will no longer be the same, alas, when it moves to Channel Four next year - without Mary, Mel and Sue!
Apart from the fact that the British public love tragedy in fanship of entertainment (Louis coming back to X Factor, Angus Deaton being replaced on Have I Got News For You etc.), it got us wondering why we love the institution of the Great British Bake Off.
Bake Off is so real!
These people are 'normals', pure 'muggles' on spectrum of TV cookery stars. They triumph sometimes, grimace often, fail occasionally, and cheer each other on unashamedly - and we love them for it!
The Great British Bake Off makes it ok to cry about cake.
It's emotional viewing. Louise, 280 Bakes owner, openly admits she 'yelped' during this year's semi-final! We challenge you to get through a whole final without a lump coming in your throat...
It's British and proud!
Everything from the language used, the jokes made, the contestants and the tension - so British!
The show inspires us to improve our own baking and to try new recipes!
What better result of the show for the cake-loving nation is that?
It's so safe!
You can watch it with your gran or your grandchild. Some of the bakes may be a little... suggestive... (see Andrew's 'rude' bake from last week!), but even the strongest euphemism will go over the wrong person's head. No one is humiliated or made cruel comments at, and it's still entertaining *sarcastic shock*.
Everyone wants Mary Berry for a Nan!
Good luck to you, Channel 4, you have some seriously big cake tins to fill.
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!