Cornflake and Almond Tart

I managed to get myself, somehow, hired to make a couple of new twists on some old classic desserts. I took the opportunity to widen my baking repertoire and delve into the world of 1980s school dinner desserts. I came across a cornflake tart which I’d never heard of before. As I read the recipe, I read it and knew that it was something that would not only fit the brief I was given by a family friend but I could make in a day.


As I read multiple recipes, and literally I must have visited 20 websites, it seemed the ratio of golden syrup to cornflakes would create a sickeningly sweet dessert, and this was understandable, but wouldn’t really suit the people I was making it for, so I found the recipe with the lowest amount of sugar and went from there.

Most of the recipes stuck to just cornflakes, golden syrup and butter, but a few had the addition of flaked almonds which I thought would be great. Not only does it add another dimension, but they look similar to the cornflakes so blended in well. Many went for raspberry jam but I stayed with the jar of strawberry in my fridge.

So here’s the recipe for my Cornflake and Almond Tart. It requires the use of a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin.

175g plain flour

75g Stork, cubed

40g caster sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp cold water

2 tbsp strawberry jam

115g golden syrup

55g Stork

25g caster sugar

A pinch of salt

130g cornflakes, unsweetened and plain

50g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the flour into a medium bowl and add the cubed Stork. Rub them between your fingertips until it reaches a breadcrumb consistency. Add the sugar, egg and water and using one hand, bring the pastry together into a ball.

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is 5mm thick – it will become thinner when we work it in the tart tin, so don’t worry if it’s slightly thicker but do not make it thinner or it will be hard to handle.

Remove the base from your tart tin and lifting up the pastry without breaking, slip the base underneath the pastry. Fold the edges into the centre and place the base with the pastry on it back into the tin and unfold the edges.

Make sure that the pastry is tucked neatly into the edges. Take the rolling pin and roll the flutes so the pastry cuts off. Using the scraps, fill in any gaps in the base and sides. Then slightly press the pastry in the flutes so it sits proud by about 2mm around the edge.

Take a large square of foil and place into the tart tin, making sure it touches the edges. Pour in your rice, or ceramic baking beans, and spread out so it evenly covers the foil.

Filled Pastry Shell

Bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and rice. Return to the oven to bake for a further 5 minutes until the base is crisp and dry to the touch. It should be slightly browned.

Blind Baking

Whilst blind baking, prepare the filling. Over a medium heat, combine the golden syrup, Stork, sugar and salt together until the sugar has dissolved, stirring continuously.

Pour in the cornflakes and the flaked almonds and mix until all the cornflakes are coated in the syrup mixture.


Spread the jam on the base of the baked pastry shell so it creates an even but thin layer. Spoon over the cornflake mixture and use a palette knife to level out the cornflake mixture.

Return to the oven for 5 minutes just to set it slightly.

Remove from the tart tin immediately and serve with custard or cream.

Simple Bakewell Tart

Simple Bakewell Tart

There’s something so magical about the Bakewell Tart. Its essence is a shortcrust pastry case topped with a layer of jam, usually strawberry or raspberry, and a frangipane style sponge mixture and it just works.

Simple Bakewell Tart

I’ve used frangipane before and the cake batter was a lot wetter this time, so I blind baked the pastry, which I don’t normally do for frangipane. Blind baking is a part baking of the pastry shell to dry and colour the pastry so the pastry doesn’t absorb the moisture from the filling and create an undercooked pastry shell and the dreaded soggy bottom.


Whilst you can use ceramic baking beans to blind bake, I prefer using rice. It’s a lot cheaper and gets into the corners of the tart tin better thereby giving you a more even blind bake. Just set aside a container of “blind baking rice” to reuse over and over again. I’d replace it every year, and when the rice starts to burn, you know it’s gone its course.

Filled Pastry ShellBlind Baking

For this recipe, I’d advise using a 23cm loose bottomed fluted tart tin.

175g plain flour

75g Stork, cubed

40g caster sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp cold water

2 tbsp raspberry jam

4 eggs

100g granulated sugar

125g Stork, melted

125g ground almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the flour into a medium bowl and add the cubed Stork. Rub them between your fingertips until it reaches a breadcrumb consistency. Add the sugar, egg and water and using one hand, bring the pastry together into a ball.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is 5mm thick – it will become thinner when we work it in the tart tin, so don’t worry if it’s slightly thicker but do not make it thinner or it will be hard to handle.
  4. Remove the base from your tart tin and lifting up the pastry without breaking, slip the base underneath the pastry. Fold the edges into the centre and place the base with the pastry on it back into the tin and unfold the edges.
  5. Make sure that the pastry is tucked neatly into the edges. Take the rolling pin and roll the flutes so the pastry cuts off. Using the scraps, fill in any gaps in the base and sides. Then slightly press the pastry in the flutes so it sits proud by about 2mm around the edge.
  6. Take a large square of foil and place into the tart tin, making sure it touches the edges. Pour in your rice, or ceramic baking beans, and spread out so it evenly covers the foil.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and rice.
  8. Whilst baking, prepare the filling by beating the eggs and sugar until they are slightly lighter and thicker. Add the melted Stork and ground almonds and whisk until it is well combined.
  9. Spread the jam over the base of the blind baked shell, working from the centre outwards. Pour over the liquid frangipane batter and then bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the frangipane is set and is a nice golden colour on top.
  10. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before taking the tin off and removing the tart from the base. Serve with hot custard or cream.
RH Ginger and Fudge Cupcakes

Guest Post: Ginger and Fudge Cupcakes by Rebecca Herd

Unlike my last guest post, you will not have heard of the author of this guest post. Rebecca Herd is a true foodie like me, as you’ll discover below. I met her on Twitter through Bakechat, a Twitter discussion organised by the 2013 bakers from GBBO in which we, as a baking community, asked (and answered) baking queries. I contacted Rebecca knowing that she would not only help and produce a great post (as you’ll read now) but she loved food and could share her passion with others. Hopefully there will be more collaborations with Rebecca in the future because I look forward to see what else she will bring to the table.

Chocolate Fondant Wedding Cake

You can follow Rebecca on Twitter: @beckyh12

When I was asked to write a post for this blog I didn’t really know where to start as it is hard to describe my passion for baking and food in general but I’ve had a go and hopefully it will inspire you to try my recipe and maybe  you’ll find it as great as I do!

I have always had a passion for baking and just food in general. Coming from a family of foodies, I was surrounded by food, both savoury and sweet. My parents own a butchers shop which introduced me to the savoury side of food but my true passion lies with cakes and pretty much any form of patisserie. The majority of my family are bakers, so much so that we have a tradition that over the years has grown to consume the summer months, of entering handicraft and produce shows. Now being the fourth generation to enter these shows is quite an accomplishment but to be able to say that you not only enter but are successful in winning prizes and trophies is something else. When you are surrounded by baking from an early age, it is more than likely that you will develop an interest and when the baking is of trophy winning standard, the skills and techniques you learn are second to none. In a way I have always taken baking, and cooking in general, for granted until I started secondary school. I took any opportunity to cook or bake as it was a way to expand my knowledge and skills further.

By GCSE I had started to gain a reputation for my work and when it came to the coursework I thrived. Many people believe I am slightly crazy when I say I enjoy doing my coursework but the opportunity to make something, that maybe I would not usually, and then be given praise for my work is something special. As the year went on, what I created in these lessons grew and towards the end I was creating complex products, often of my own design and pushing myself as far as I could to create the most in each possible lesson. The hard work clearly paid off as I achieved an A* for my food technology GCSE (only dropping 3 marks for my coursework!). However the grade means little compared to the comment received off my teacher. I was delighted that the hard work I had put in had paid off as I was told that it was “astounding what I could achieve in an hour and 15 minutes”. This deepened my interest and made me truly realise that I was actually really good at baking!

The success of GCSE made the decision to do A-Level the easiest of my life. I knew for sure that I wanted a career in the food industry and I was determined to succeed. My passion was not always recognised by teachers and my school in general. I was lucky enough to achieve a place at a grammar school which is one of the greatest achievements of my life. However, this also meant that the focus on subjects which are not necessarily academically based was often negative especially for A-Level. After a hard campaign, it was accepted and, although there is a large amount of practical work, I can confirm that A-Level food technology is as hard (if not harder) as any other A-Level subject.  With more freedom, A-Level food has enabled me to create food that I want and take my project in the way I wish. It has also made me realise that a career in product development is want I want to achieve.

The decision of what recipe to include in this has been very difficult. I have an ever increasing list of favourites so to choose just one is nearly impossible. However I did come to a decision. I wanted to include something of my own, something original. Therefore I have chosen to include the recipe for my Ginger Fudge Cupcakes. Believe it or not, this actually originated from a cream scone but I believe the final product is much better.

Inside of RH RH Ginger and Fudge Cupcakes



55g butter

225g granulated sugar

100g evaporated milk

50ml of water


50g butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

120ml milk

65g sugar

130g self-raising flour

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 egg


1 egg white

50g sugar

  1. Grease and line a 15 x 10cm tin
  2. To make the fudge, place all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and stir over a low heat till the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (116oC if using a thermometer).
  3. Remove from the heat and dip base of the pan in cold water. Leave for 5 minutes.
  4. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture loses its gloss.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to cool. When cooled, cut the cooled fudge in to 4cm circles using a biscuit cutter.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  7. For the sponge, heat the syrup, butter, sugar and milk in a pan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Sift in the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda and mix. Add the egg and beat well.
  8. Divide into the 12 bun cases and bake for 20 minutes.
  9. When ready to serve, turn the oven to 230°C.
  10. Whisk the egg white until stiff and gradually add the sugar until you are able to tip the bowl upside down without the mixture falling out. Place the meringue in a piping bag with a star nozzle attached.
  11. Place a piece of fudge on top of each bun and pipe a swirl of meringue over the top.
  12. Flash bake for 1 ½ minutes or until the meringue starts to colour.
Baked Cheesecake

Basic Vanilla Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. There’s something about the combination of a buttery biscuit base and a sweet creamy filling that works every single time. This recipe is a recipe which I’ve used ever since I first made it and I’d like to feel that I’ve perfected it.

Baked Cheesecake

The one today is a pretty standard Vanilla Cheesecake but you can add any other flavours to suit any occasion. Whilst I’ve stuck with a digestive base, you can always jazz this up as well. Here are some ideas:

  • Mocha Cheesecake – use Bourbon biscuits for the base, swap the sugar for soft light brown sugar add some instant coffee powder to the filling
  • Ginger and Apricot Cheesecake – use Ginger Nuts for the base and place halved fresh apricots (or tinned if you cannot find fresh) on the base
  • Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake – add walnuts to the biscuit base, halfway through the baking time, drizzle a swirl of salted caramel on top of the cheesecake

Ensure that you’ve not only lined your springform tin properly, an essential piece of cheesecake making kit in my opinion, but that the biscuit base is completely pressed into the base to prevent any leakage in the oven.

200g digestive biscuits – or whichever biscuit you choose

80g Stork, melted

450g cream cheese – at room temperature (if it isn’t, it won’t mix together with the eggs well)

150g granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

  1. Grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin.
  2. Place the biscuits in a sandwich bag and bash them up into very fine crumbs using a rolling pin. Add to a bowl with the melted Stork and mix until it begins to come together.
  3. Pour into the springform tin and using the back of a spoon, press down the base evenly and making sure that there are no gaps. Chill for about 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  5. Beat all of the remaining ingredients together until they are smooth and creamy. Pour the mixture onto the cooled biscuit base.
  6. Placing the springform tin onto a baking tray, bake the cheesecake for about 45 minutes until it is just a light golden brown on the surface and when you shake the tray, the cheesecake gives way in the centre just slightly.
  7. Cool the cheesecake in the tin completely and then when you want to serve, take a palette knife and loosen around the edge. Release the spring and then use the same palette knife to lift underneath the parchment to move, and then remove, the cheesecake.
  8. Dust with icing sugar and finish with a sprig of mint.
DM Brunch Pies

Guest Post: Brunch Pies by Deborah Manger (of GBBO fame)

Anyone who has watched The Great British Bake Off will know the writer of this guest post. Let’s say that she was heavily involved in ‘Custardgate’ so much so that she even stole the custard. I contacted Deborah Manger, a former contestant on the show, about the possibility of writing a guest post for me and Deborah was more than happy to help.


I asked Deborah a few questions and then asked her to provide me with a recipe that would feature on the blog and she didn’t disappoint. I’m also looking forward to working with Deborah in the future on more posts on the blog.

You can find Deborah on Twitter (@MangerBakes)

What made you want to apply for The Great British Bake Off?

I decided to apply for the ‘Bake Off’ for many reasons. I enjoy a challenge. My family said why not and above all I try to approach life knowing that our memories are really important. I have great memories of my involvement so when I’m older and greyer they will be great times to reflect upon

What was your favourite moment from your series?

My favourite moment which never found its way onto the television was Mary saying “Boy can you make a great Genoise sponge” followed very close behind by my car journeys home from filming with Frances [Quinn, winner of Series Four]

Do people still mention Custardgateto you?

They do. I have learnt that most people do it as a friendly tease; such is the usual GBBO viewer.

Custardgate dm

Have you had any ‘disasters’ in your own kitchen?

Plenty! I defy anyone who cooks and bakes to say they have not. My family, including my cats, are my greatest critics. I know I’ve really failed if the cats turn their noses up at stuff the men reject!

Do you have an idea when you started to bake?

I started to bake when I went to grammar school. I studies home economics up to A-Level. The first thing we baked was a Victoria sponge cake

What do you bake most of, and is there a reason why? Cakes, biscuits, bread or pastry?

I bake a lot of bread. Many flavours and presentations (free form, tin). We need bread for breakfast, lunches and snacks. We do not like shop bought bread. I bake bread every week.  Probably closely followed by cake for ‘pudding/dessert’. With an active teenager in the house cake is a great way of filling him up as part of a meal

Who is your favourite TV chef or cook?

My favourite TV cook/chef has to be Raymond Blanc. I love the fact he was essentially self taught. His skills have grown from living in a family where food and eating matters. He is dedicated to eating food that has been grown/raised as locally as possible and is obviously passionate about his trade.

What would you say is your one and true Signature Bake?

Brunch pies [below]. These are favourites of both family and friends. They are a play on the picnic pork pie with flavours of pork, bacon, tomato and egg, all wrapped up in a thin hot water crust case.

Would you say that how Britain sees baking has changed since GBBO?

I would like to say yes. I think we like watching others but the evidence is clear, the more recipe books and equipment we buy the more convenience foods are purchased. I suspect people like the idea of it but feel under confident in actually following a recipe or process. That’s where my home economics helped me.

What is your opinion on ‘Bingate’, the media blaming Mary Berry for the obesity crisis in the UK and the innuendo complaints as seen on Points of View? 

Bingate: I know that what we saw was the bakers being short of space, something we experienced, and the fridges and freezers struggling to cope with all the warm food placed in them. Ian was obviously stressed and his response was to do what we all do in our own home when cooking/baking goes wrong. Having been similarly stressed I do empathise with his reaction.

Obesity: This is a public health issue leading to ill health and placing an enormous strain on health and social care. Individuals need to take personal responsibility for their own health, including weight and levels of fitness. To blame any celebrity is disingenuous.

Innuendo: If you do not like watching the programme because you find it offensive, watch something else.

Deborah’s Brunch Pies

DM Brunch Pies

The key to these pies is keeping the pastry thin thus allowing you to have more filling within. They are a great, late morning alternative to a full ‘English’.

Preparation Time: 60 Minutes

Cooking Time: 45 Minutes

Hot Water Crust Pastry

200g plain flour

40g strong white flour

50g butter

60g lard

100ml water

1 tsp salt


6 quail eggs

6 small vine/plum tomatoes

8 large tomatoes with vine

1 onion, chopped finely

350g pork loin, chopped finely

100g smoked back bacon, chopped finely – if you wish to intensify the tomato flavour of these pies, you can buy smoked bacon that has been marinated in tomato ketchup

1 tsp lemon thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg, for glazing

2 leaves gelatine

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

Grease 6 x 7cm cooking rings and place on a baking sheet covered with baking parchment

Place all the flour in a bowl and rub in the butter to resemble breadcrumbs

Place the lard, salt and water in pan. Heat until lard is melted.

Pour the lard/water mix into the flour mixture and mix thoroughly to produce a smooth, elastic dough. Place on a floured surface and roll to approx 3mm thickness. Cut six 15cm circles to line the pie rings and six 10cm circles for the lids. When lining the rings roll a ball of excess pastry and place inside some cling film. Use this to press the pastry into the rings ensuring full, thin coverage with no tearing.IMG_0113

Cook the quails’ eggs in boiling water for 2 minutes then plunge into cold water. Peel carefully.

Remove the skins from the 6 small tomatoes and then remove the core and seeds whilst keeping the flesh as intact as possible. Place a quail egg inside each tomato.

Mix the onion, pork, bacon, thyme and seasoning well. Place one dessertspoon of pork mixture in the base of the pie cases. Place the egg in the centre and then cover with more pork mixture.

Place the pie lids on.IMG_0037

Cut a hole in the top using a 1/2cm metal piping nozzle and crimp or use a fork to seal the edge of the pastry. Glaze the lids with egg wash.IMG_0038IMG_0039

Place in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the pies from the rings carefully and egg wash the sides of the pies. Replace in the oven for a further 15 minutes.

Set the pies aside to cool.

Liquidise the 8 large tomatoes and their vines until smooth. Place in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the temperature to simmer for 5 minutes. Use a fine sieve to remove the tomato pulp; the pulp can be kept to use in other dishes. Replace the tomato essence in a pan and heat to reduce until you have 150ml/5fl oz of concentrated essence.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes; squeeze the leaves to remove excess water and then whisk into the warm tomato essence.

Pour the tomato/gelatine mixture through the holes in the pie crust. Leave the pies to cool in the fridge – if the family will allow!

Chocolate Fondant Wedding Cake

Your Guide to Using Fondant Icing

Say that you’ve made a really amazing cake and all that’s left to do is decorate it. Look in your cupboard and the box of white sugarpaste or fondant icing is shining like a beacon. You roll it out and it starts sticking to the rolling pin and the work surface, it has cracks and it isn’t big enough to cover your cake. Hopefully with my guide to using fondant icing, your problems will all be fixed.

Stage 1: Dealing with the actual cake and its intricacies

Make the sponge preferably the day before and add the filling. Complete a crumb coat

Fondant icing is often seen in incredibly decadent wedding cakes. All of these cakes have one thing in common, a crumb coat.

 Chocolate Fondant Wedding Cake Spring Fondant Wedding Cake Tie Dye Fondant Wedding Cake

A crumb coat is a thin layer of buttercream which protects the fondant from being contaminated with crumbs from the freshly made cake. The structure of freshly made cakes hasn’t had time to set, which is why when you cut freshly made cakes, they always are crumbly. In many large bakeries, particular industrial ones, you’ll find that they always refrigerate the baked cakes which allow the structure to set and the cake is less crumbly so it is easier to cut and shape their cakes, preventing crumbs getting into the fondant. The crumb coat extra insures that this doesn’t happen. It also provides a surface for the fondant to attach itself to.

Stage 2: Rolling out the fondant icing

To prevent the fondant icing sticking to the work surface, dust the surface lightly with icing sugar, as if you were making bread. Then knead the fondant until it becomes somewhat pliable. If you wish to colour the fondant, dip a cocktail skewer into gel food colourings for the best effect.

 Wilton Gel Colouring Pastes

Be aware that these colourings are much more powerful and potent than your bog standard liquid colourings. They are much more expensive but they will last you much longer than any other liquid colouring mainly because you do not need as much. Continue to work the colouring into the fondant until it becomes even.

When using a rolling pin, avoid applying too much pressure. Use a smaller rolling pin and be light with your hands.

Stage 3: Shaping and cutting

a) Fondant Coffee Beans

 Fondant Coffee Beans

Colour the sugarpaste a very light grey (using a very small bit of black colouring) – don’t worry, the colour isn’t the final colour of them however it does help the final coffee beans look realistic.

Take a small chunk of the sugarpaste (about 5 grams) and roll it into an egg shape. Avoid having tapered ends. Using the blunt side of a table knife, make a small incision in the centre so it resembles a coffee bean.

 Coffee Beans

Roll the fondant bean in cocoa powder and then allow to dry out on a plate for about 30 minutes. This means they become firm and less pliable. Then toss them between your hands to get rid of the excess cocoa powder.

b) Fondant Garden Scene

 Coluring Sugarpaste

How you decide to use it is up to you, I placed it onto a cupcake for an attractive children’s cake (of course do not allow them to eat it, otherwise it would be a sugar overload). I’d advise this not be consumed but rather a decorative piece.

Colour 3 portions of fondant icing a baby pink, a bright green and brown. Take a small portion of fondant and colour it yellow.

Roll out the pink fondant to a thickness of 3mm. Cut out a circle of fondant, using a fluted cutter, and apply onto the surface on a cupcake.

Roll out the green fondant to a thickness of 3mm. Using a table knife, cut out a leaf shape. Then with the knife, create the classic markings of a leaf. Lay the leaf on top of one side of the pink fondant.

For the brown snail, make a long sausage about 20cm long. Take one end and tightly roll it into a spiral shape. Then allow the neck and body to roll upwards and tuck the end back on itself to create the head. Apply a small dot of yellow fondant for the eye. Place on half of the leaf.

c) Fondant Flowers

 Fondant Roses

Take 5 grams and roll into a ball. Flatten out with your thumb and then roll up from one side into a coil shape. This is the centre of your flower.

Take 8 grams of fondant and flatten out into a petal shape. Wrap it around the centre loosely, ensuring that the petal is slightly offset and the petal touches the centre at the bottom only. Using your thumb, open up the petal slightly to create a slight gap.

Repeat this process of making 8 gram petals. Each time you apply the petal, make it come up slightly higher up the centre coil and overlap the petals by about 5mm on the coil. Remember to open up the petal before applying another petal. Try to make each petal slightly larger than the one before. By the third “layer” of petal you will need more fondant to make the petal bigger but the same thickness. After 9 petals, pinch the base of the flower where the fondant all touches so the excess fondant comes away. You may wish to add a ball of yellow fondant in the very centre.

Some professionals will colour the petals such that the shades get lighter as you go out. Feel free to do this, but it’s a bit of a faff for me. Some will also brush the flowers with coloured/flavoured powders for the same effect.

Fondant Flower Bouquet Fondant Flowers

d) Fondant Butterflies

 Rolling and Cutting

Roll out plain white fondant to a thickness of 3mm and using a cutter, cut out butterfly shapes. Fold a piece of baking parchment so it has a crease. Rest the centre spine of the butterfly on the crease and allow to dry out and set.

Fondant Butterflies

Fondant is so incredibly useful in a cake maker’s kitchen. Once you get used to the intricacies of rolling it out, learn how to colour fondant cleverly and learn how to make different shapes to suit all manner of occasions, fondant is your very sweet best friend.

All Butter Almond Cookies

All Butter Almond Cookies

There’s something about the smell of freshly baked biscuits and toasted nuts that makes these biscuits to die for. They are ridiculously simple to make and you’ll be surprised that such a small quantity of dough will make a huge batch of biscuits, so these are great for parties or giving as gifts for friends’ birthdays or even, and I dare mention the word in the middle of October, Christmas presents!

Whole Almonds

The dough freezes incredibly well so I’ve bulked up the recipe to include just 1 egg. I’ve never been one to weigh eggs but very few people would wish to weigh out 13g of egg, so I’ve quadrupled the recipe so that one whole egg is used. If you ever needed an excuse to get baking, just take out the dough, cut into biscuits and bake!

The toasted flavour of the nuts really comes through and it resembles the biscotti I’ve made already (you can find them clicking here)! The recipe requires them to be toasted before they are added to the dough. The first time I made them, the butter began to melt from the heat of the almonds and the dough began very tricky to shape. You will need to work quickly to shape the dough into a roughish cylinder and get it into the freezer straight away – the dough needs to be hard so you can cut it into the squares. Even so you can still shape the dough while it’s cooling down into the desired shape.

All Butter Almond Cookies

200g soft unsalted butter or Stork

88g caster or granulated sugar

1 whole medium egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

300g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

140g whole almonds, skin on

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Bake the almonds for 8-10 minutes until they are warm; do not burn them however. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the Stork/softened butter until it is slightly paler in colour.
  3. Add the whole egg and vanilla and beat until it is thoroughly combined.
  4. Sift in the self-raising flour and baking powder and using a spatula, fold until it is mixed and comes together to form one ball of dough.
  5. Throw in the almonds and work the almonds lightly into the dough. This can be added with the flour in step 4. Divide the dough into 4 portions.
  6. On a lightly floured work surface, knead and shape the dough into 4 long cylinders. Place each cylinder onto a sheet of baking parchment and using the parchment (and maybe another pair of hands), shape the dough into an even cylinder. Repeat for all 4 cylinders and chill until the dough is hardened or until you need to use it.
  7. When you decide to bake the biscuits, preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper.
  8. Using a serrated knife, or very sharp knife, cut out 8mm thick slices of the dough, placing them on the baking tray with a slight space between them; I managed to fit 36 on a tray!
  9. Bake for 11 – 13 minutes until they turn just a slight golden brown around the edges. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.
  10. Wrap up 5 of them in a decorated cellophane bag and tie with ribbon for an attractive gift. I sourced them from my local pound shop!
Nancy's Piece Montee

GBBO 14 Episode 10 Review: The Final Week

So there we have it, Nancy Birtwhistle is the Champion of The Great British Bake Off.

Nancy GBBO

Best Bake: Nancy’s Red Windmill and Luis’ Village in Chocolate

Nancy's Piece Montee Luis's Piece Montee Drawing

Signature Challenge: 24 Viennoiserie

The traditional Danish pastries, which consist of either an enriched brioche-style bread dough or a laminated pastry, were the bakers’ first challenge of the Final. Taking normally a whole day to make, all the bakers had to find ways to quickly make these tricky bakes.

Richard tried the simple yet perfect approach, and to get perfect Viennoiserie in 3 and a half hours is tricky in itself. His Pains Au Lait and Pains Au Chocolat were pretty classic Viennoiserie. To create the lamination during the time, Richard tried creaming the butter and spreading it over the dough. This was a massive risk as the butter would be more likely to melt into the dough, unlike Luis who added it as one slab, meaning the layers wouldn’t be preserved. Richard also tried to prove the pastries inside the proving drawer which melted the butter. It wasn’t a good start for Richard, not helped by Paul being upset by the visible tear in the sides of his Pains Au Lait due to the bread joining during baking/proving.

Richard's Viennoiserie

Luis made Apple, Walnut, Raisin and Cheese Chaussons, which Paul and Mary agreed were absolutely perfect with their flaky dough and good flavour, and Pains au Chocolate Blanc with Raspberry and Cream Cheese, which Paul and Mary disliked very much. The raspberry made the dough slightly soggy and the cream cheese didn’t compliment the dry pastry. They looked stunning, a quality we’ve known Luis to possess over the Bake Off, but the flavour wasn’t good. However he was still slightly higher than Richard.

Nancy's Viennoiserie

Nancy was pretty much tied with Luis after the Signature. She lost a few marks on the collapse of the raspberry on the inside of her Raspberry and Almond Croissants. Her Kites had very visible layers and Mary was absolutely stunned by the flavours Nancy had.

End of Challenge: 1st = Nancy, 2nd = Luis, 3rd = Richard

Technical Challenge: 12 Mini Victoria Sandwiches, 12 Mini Tartes au Citron, 12 Mini Scones

Paul and Mary decided to set the bakers a very difficult Technical Challenge. They didn’t give the bakers any instructions, just the ingredients and their quantities. This was a great Technical Challenge for the final, testing all 3 of them on the basics. The timing was also devilish: 3 different miniature bakes in 2 hours.

Richard’s Tarte au Citrons (or Tarte au Colons, as Paul jokingly read the chocolate piping on the tarts) were overbaked as the lemon custard filling was scrambled egg. No matter how good his scones were, his jam was also slightly wet and soaked into his sponge. I thought Richard would be 2nd but the judges placed him dead bottom. I was shocked. By the end of the Technical, all hope for Richard was lost.

Luis blind-baked his pastry for too long and the edges were visibly burnt. The cases also needed patching up and the pastry also had holes as the final tarts had very little filling inside. His scones weren’t glazed but were still very light and baked well, meaning Luis received 2nd place. Even Luis was surprised at the result!

Nancy appeared to be unflustered throughout the challenge, even offering tips to the audience. Her jam was the perfect consistency, she managed to pipe on the word ‘Citron’ on her tarts and although her scones were on the dry side, Nancy took 1st place in what could be the hardest Technical to date!

End of Challenge: 1st = Nancy, 2nd = Luis, 3rd = Richard

Showstopper Challenge: Piece Montee

The final challenge is a test of the bakers’ ability to excel in multiple areas of baking and decoration. Cakes, biscuits, choux pastry, sugar work, petit fours, the list goes on and on.

Richard, after a terrible 1st day, needed to truly excel here. He was inspired by his home and called his Piece Montee ‘The Mill on the Hill’. There were sponge layers covered in green icing with an almond nougatine and a croquembouche sitting on top with a windmill made of caramel. To decorate, Richard had some pink meringue mushroom. Paul and Mary were intrigued by the colour but the flavour of the sponge and jam was impressive. Richard’s flavours were very good with contrasting sponges that did compliment. Mary called his choux “first-class”. I did feel however it was as good a showstopper as it could’ve been but Richard did finish on a high.

Richard's Piece Montee

Luis was inspired by his hometown of Poynton and its mining background. His “Village of Chocolate” was aesthetically phenomenal, everyone on Twitter was gasping at its splendour. How Luis managed to construct that chain of choux buns and get them to stand rigid like soldiers wows me. Unfortunately Luis’ flavours slightly let him down but no matter what, Luis was still in with a fighting chance thanks to a strong 1st day.

Luis's Piece Montee Drawing Luis's Piece Montee

Nancy wowed everyone with her amazing Piece Montee, inspired by a windmill, this time coloured red and it even rotated like a windmill. The flavours were impressive and there was even a croquembouche hidden in there somewhere. A trio of very very good challenges meant that Nancy deserved the crown tonight.

Nancy's Piece Montee

Last week I mentioned the trends in the past winners and this series didn’t even disappoint.

  • The person who won Star Baker the most times did the worst in the Final
  • The public’s least favourite came through to win

It’s shown that Richard’s 5-time Star Baker didn’t at all influence the result. It is all down to how you bake on the day.

You might remember I made those predictions at the start of the series. Here’s what happened…


Didn’t go very well did it? Oh well, maybe next year!

Richard Entremets

GBBO 14 Episode 9 Review: Patisserie Week

What an amazing semi-final this week. Some of the trickiest challenges to date saw off one of the Bake Off’s flavour powerhouses in history. They faced Signature Baklavas (however you pronounce it), a Technical Schichttorte (a grilled German cake) and 24 Showstopping Entremets. Was there any favouritism from the judges this week however… find out below.

Eliminated: Chetna

Chetna GBBO

My Elimination Prediction: Diana (see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Richard (for an unbelievable fifth time!)

Richard GBBO

Good: Luis

Bad: Nancy

Best Bake: Every contestant’s Entremets impressed me this week

Chetna Entremets Luis Entremets Nancy Entremets Richard Entremets

I am incredibly saddened to say that Chetna Makan, you have finally been eliminated from Bake Off. For those of you who do not know already, I predicted that Chetna would finish first before the show even started and it’s unfortunate that she had to leave during a week in which the standards were higher than Mary Berry after having one of Luis’s doughnuts last week. We all know Chetna is the “Flavour Queen” and once again she didn’t disappoint but it was purely technical faults that meant Chetna has to go home. Her baklavas were good but they were just slightly below the grade on flavour for Paul. The grilled cake Technical challenge didn’t go well with Chetna finishing last. In order for Chetna to stay safe, she had to have a faultless showstopper, which was unfortunately not the case, with Mary slating Chetna’s poor layers and Paul criticising her flavours.


Nancy didn’t have her best week, despite wowing everyone with her relatively simple, but perfect, baklava and her Raspberry and Almond Entremet. A 3rd place finish in the Technical meant that Nancy was considered for elimination.

Luis had another strong, and consistent week, with a unique “baklava cup” in the Signature, fantastic looking and tasting Entremets in the Showstopper and all topped off with a 1st place Technical finish. Despite this great week in which Luis looked unflappable, he still didn’t receive Star Baker.

I did say this last week but I don’t think Richard deserved Star Baker this week. For so many weeks in Bake Off history, Mary and Paul say that Star Bakers are given the accolade for a great week of consistency and amazing baking, which Luis undoubtedly demonstrated this week. Only on a few occasions has Star Baker been given out to a baker who redeemed themselves with an absolutely exquisite and faultless Showstopper – Ryan from Series 3 was one such baker. Unfortunately I don’t think Richard met this criteria not least of all his Technical Bake was nowhere near the standard that Luis, quite literally, bought to the table.

Of course I cannot finish my review without predicting the winner. Previous patterns of the winners include:

  • Bakers who finish in the Top Three of the Bread Technical Challenge tend to win the competition – LUIS
  • The person who has won Star Baker the most has never won the competition – RICHARD
  • The underdog has come through to win – NANCY

Who do I go for? Well I want to find out who you think will win by voting in the poll below:

Simple Shortcrust Pastry

This shortcrust pastry would be ideal for savoury flans or tarts. Foods that have overly sweet fillings would benefit from having an unsweetened pastry much like this one. People are so scared and worried about making pastry themselves and I want to demystify the process showing you how simple it really is. Hopefully you’ll never buy ready-made shortcrust pastry ever again.

Chilled Pastry

There is an argument over using margarine and butter for pastry and pastry is one of the only times I will use butter because it solidifies when refrigerated, meaning the pastry becomes easier to roll. We always try to refrigerate pastry because this not only sets the fat, making it easier to roll, but it also relaxes the gluten and this prevents the pastry shrinking back in the oven. You’ll see some people complain about making pastry saying that “their hands are too hot”. As long as you chill the pastry sufficiently between each stage, or as directed in the recipe, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Unlike bread, we do not want gluten to form; shortcrust pastry gets its name from the fact that the gluten strands are short, making a crumbly melt in the mouth pastry. This is just one aspect of making pastry that puts people off as you are quite tempted to overwork the pastry, meaning it is tough and rubbery. My tip to prevent this is to cut the butter into small cubes so it is easier to work into the flour.

To bind the flour and butter together, usually an egg or cold water is used. In smaller quantities of pastry, water is the better option as the egg may make the pastry too wet. Remember that any form of liquid should be gradually added to reduce the risk of the pastry being too wet. This means that the food processor is the essential bit of kit for making shortcrust pastry as the flour and butter can be made into breadcrumbs before being combined by the liquid added through the funnel. Of course if you do not have a food processor, copy the instructions below except using your own hands and a large bowl.

150g plain flour

75g cold butter, cut into 5mm cubes

2-3 tbsp ice cold water – this amount could vary so have extra water on hand in case

  1. Place the plain flour into a food processor. Add the cold cubed butter and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. With the processor running, add the ice cold water tablespoon by tablespoon until the pastry comes together into a dough.
  3. Turn out the pastry onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for about 20 seconds until it is smooth on the outside.
  4. Wrap the pastry up in clingfilm and press it out into a disc. Chill until required.


Drawing of Luis's Black Forest Cherry Tree

GBBO 14 Episode 8 Review: Advanced Dough Week

The quarterfinal of the show did not disappoint with the bakers being tested with all manners of tricky enriched doughs. Chetna and Richard both had firsts ever on this week’s show and Nancy once again mesmerised with her use of technology. Find out my thoughts below.

Eliminated: Martha

Martha GBBO

My Elimination Prediction: Luis (see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Richard (for an unprecedented, and record breaking, fourth time!)

Richard GBBO

Good: Luis

Bad: Nancy

Best Bake: Luis’s Black Forest Cherry Tree

Drawing of Luis's Black Forest Cherry Tree Luis's Black Forest Cherry Tree

Don’t get me wrong I like Richard but I thought he wasn’t the person for Star Baker tonight. Luis amazed with his Signature Fruit Loaf (see above) and came a respectable 2nd in the Technical. Mary loved his cocktail inspired doughnuts and this week he didn’t have real significant problems. Richard came 4th in the Technical (although he did copy Nancy!) and didn’t appear to have all that great a first day. Personally no matter how good your Showstopper is, you have to be consistent. Even so, he still did do well over the weekend and has made Bake Off history by being awarded Star Baker for the fourth time. Statistically he is a surefire finalist but baking never follows statistics.

This brings me onto Chetna: where was Chetna in the judge’s deliberations? Chetna has definitely been a quiet horse across the series; in weeks where I thought she did well, she wasn’t even considered for Star Baker. Her Date and Walnut Swirl Loaf was impressive, and although the flavours didn’t suit Paul, they both agreed that the design element was inspired, in fact so inspired that they even used her bake as the Technical challenge, just the proper version of it (prepare to see them in Marks & Spencers in a couple of weeks), and this it in question is a Povitica. Of course Chetna came first and her doughnuts weren’t all that bad so I don’t see why this didn’t warrant Star Baker.


Nancy daringly used the microwave to prove her Fruit Loaf, which is a technique that once somebody has perfected, will surely change the shape of the baking world. The only problem she encountered was a raw middle, caused by her bread being too big. A 3rd in the technical and playful doughnuts secured her place next week. Nancy has always done well, being her only bad week in the history of the show, which is quite something. She will have to really step up however if she is to meet the standards of Richard and Luis.

Oh Martha it was just one mistake too many this week really. Overproved doughnuts, a raw povitica and a dense Signature loaf meant that the tent’s youngest ever baker had to depart just weeks before the final. Everyone loves Martha and I think she has done so much hard work for the show and she is truly inspirational. Mary said it herself that we should be looking out for Martha in years to come, which is a view I also share. Martha Collison’s TV show will be out in 2020 (if it is, you heard it here first!)

The semi-final is a hard time for anyone to leave but if our bakers cannot rise to the challenge, they won’t be allowed in the final. A signature Baklava, with their own filo pastry, a Technically challenging Schichttorte (which is a cake cooked in a grill?!) and a selection of showstopping Entremets (yes I’ve never heard of them either) are all on the menu next week.

Your Guide to Choux: Les Petits Croquembouches

Choux pastry is used to make all manner of sweet and savoury pastries ranging from savoury gougères to sweet éclairs, beignets and profiteroles to the showstopping Gateau St Honoré and Croquembouche, however I’m making little choux buns and filling them with pastry cream before finishing with spun sugar.

Choux Buns with Cream Gateau St Honore

People are quite daunted by making choux pastry as it can be hard to tell when the flour mixture is beaten enough over the heat. The cooking of the dough is vital to the finished pastry as it dictates how the rest of your pastry goes. Undercooked dough cannot absorb enough beaten egg, which will result in a deflated choux bun which is dry and tough. The way that I know whether my choux paste is done is that the paste “furs” at the bottom of the pan, which basically means it has started to stick to the base of the pan and the bottom of the pan looks “furry”. It sounds odd but is a surefire way to guarantee a good start to your pastry.

When it comes to adding the eggs, make sure that the dough has cooled down slightly and that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. But all too often a recipe would call for 3 eggs but adding the third egg could be not enough or too much, ruining your beautiful choux pastry. Not having enough egg in the choux pastry will create a dense choux pastry that will not rise in the oven; having too much egg will in the pastry will create a wet choux pastry that will not hold its shape in the oven. One way to reduce the chance of this happening is to take a bowl and beat the number of eggs stated in your recipe in a bowl and gradually add the beaten egg. This way you can add smaller amounts of egg instead of chancing your perfect choux pastry on another egg, which could easily ruin it.

Now the texture of the choux paste may also indicate whether your choux pastry is done. The final dough should look shiny without patches of flour and when you scoop the pastry with a spatula, it should fall thinly and form an inverted triangle on the spatula. To fix a thick batter, you should add some more of the beaten egg mixture, but only gradually as adding too much egg cannot be fixed.

Choux Pastry

When it comes to the piping of the choux pastry, be confident to make the choux bun quite high; this simply increases the chance of having well risen and puffed-up choux buns in the end. Try to make each bun relatively round by holding the piping bag vertically and not at an angle and pressing the bag in one confident movement as opposed to going around in a circle. Make sure that the dough is completely smooth on the top as any peaks in the choux pastry will easily catch and burn during baking. Using a dampened finger, smooth out the peaks and try to round off the choux buns.

Because the pastry rises thanks to the moisture, steam can often make the final baked pastry soggy if you do not dry out the pastry. To dry out the pastry, you have to make a hole in the bottom of the pastry and then bake the pastry for a further 5 minutes to allow the steam to escape. However avoid opening the oven during the baking period until the choux buns are completely baked and set as the colder air will make the choux buns collapse.

However there is something magical about making the perfect choux pastry which puffs up in the oven. A small amount of batter will make many choux buns and that’s why I love choux pastry. Not only is it simple to make, in comparison to puff or shortcrust, for example, it has a large yield and there is nothing wrong with just filling the choux buns with whipped cream.

CroquemboucheIndividual Croquembouches

The actual pastry can be made up to 12 hours in advance, just as long it remains covered and refrigerated, although it’s best used immediately.

You can find the recipe for my pastry cream here.

100g plain flour

Pinch of salt

1 tbsp sugar

150ml water

75g Stork or butter

3 eggs, beaten in a bowl

1 egg, beaten in a separate bowl

1 quantity of pastry cream (see link above)

150g granulated sugar

2 tbsp water

  1. Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the water and Stork/butter into a medium saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the fat has melted. Then bring the mixture up to a rolling boil and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the pan all at once and beat well using a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Place the pan back on the medium heat and stir the pastry for 1 minute until it begins to stick to the base of the pan. Then allow it to cool in the pan.
  4. Pour about a quarter of the beaten egg into the slightly cooled choux pastry and beat again using the wooden spoon until the egg is completely incorporated. Don’t worry about it looking curdled and split, just give it a good beat and eventually it comes together.
  5. Gradually add more egg beating the mixture until it comes back together until the choux pastry looks soft, shiny and has a dropping consistency.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a couple of baking trays with some baking parchment.
  7. Place the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a large 1cm round nozzle. Pipe multiple walnut-sized rounds of the choux pastry onto the baking trays, spaced about 4cm apart.
  8. Using a dampened finger, flatten down any peaks on the choux buns and smooth out any rough edges. Lightly brush the choux buns with the other beaten egg.
  9. Bake the choux buns for 20 – 25 minutes without opening the oven. They should be puffed up, golden and crisp. Remove the buns from the oven and poke small holes in the base of the buns using a knife or skewer. Bake for a further 5 minutes to dry out. Cool the fully dry and baked choux buns on a wire rack.
  10. When you are ready to serve the choux buns, fill a piping bag with some of the pastry cream (ideally not completely cold) using a nozzle which is big enough to fill the choux buns through the hole you made during baking. Pipe enough pastry cream into the choux buns so that they are full.
  11. Pile up some of the filled choux buns onto your serving plate. Chill in the fridge whilst you make the caramel.
  12. Place the sugar and water into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, do not stir, turn up the heat to high and allow it to cook out. Meanwhile fill the sink or a tub with cold water.
  13. During the cooking, you may occasionally stir the pan but the caramel is done when it is a light amber and golden brown colour, like the colour of whisky. Turn off the heat and immediately plunge the pan into the water for 5 seconds, being careful that it doesn’t splash. Then place the pan back on the heat; this will prevent the caramel setting too quickly and allows it to turn slightly darker without the risk of overcooking.
  14. When the caramel has taken on a thick consistency, just before it solidifies, dip a balloon whisk or a couple of forks in the caramel, so that it is dripping off the end. Then over a sheet of baking parchment, flick the sugar backwards and forwards so it creates thin strands of sugar which, over time, build up to create a ribbon of sugar. If the sugar on the utensil is used up, dip again, although beware that it may have set; if so, return to the heat to loosen again. Alternatively you can do this over the serving plate itself if you feel brave enough, as I’ve done.
  15. Gather the spun sugar strands and using your hands, mould into the shape you want and place over the choux buns on the plate. Serve immediately.


Stair of Eclairs

GBBO 14 Episode 7 Review: Pastry Week

Mary and Paul had one of the toughest decisions in the history of Bake Off yet, having to choose between one to go in the best batch of bakers after facing Signature Savoury Parcels, a technical Kouign Amman (pronounced “Queen Amann”) and showstopping Eclairs.

Eliminated: Kate


My Elimination Prediction: Martha (see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Richard (for the third time!)

Richard GBBO

Good: Luis, Nancy, Chetna

Bad: Martha

Best Bake: Richard’s Stair of Eclairs

Stair of Eclairs

This year, Bake Off has really been all about the things bakers bring in from home. We had Nancy’s cake guillotine and Norman’s cake de-tinner in week 1 and now in week 7, we have Richard’s Eclair Stairs. His eclairs used the infamously tricky flavours of rose and lavender, which saw Norman leave in week 5, but managed to balance them well to impress the judges. Not only that, Richard came first in a Technical Challenge which nobody had heard of before and impressed Paul and Mary with Lamb and Mint Pasties. Richard’s a clear favourite to win now thanks to being awarded Star Baker three times now.

Luis bowled the judges over with his combination of substance and style in his American inspired eclairs, mixing peanut butter and jam topped with a patriotically coloured fondant (whether it was shop-bought, we’ll never know). He had a slight dip at the start of the week with poorly fried empanadas and not following the recipe in the Technical. Luis had his first moment of danger this week and many at home will be hoping it doesn’t happen again as he is very very consistent.

Nancy is still flying through each week, not having a real disastrous week thus far. Her 2nd place finish in the Technical, Asian inspired duck pasties and savoury salmon and horseradish eclairs meant she came close to Star Baker. There’s a bit of a following for Nancy much in the same way Chetna has her fans, me included. Once again she wowed with flavour and finished her eclairs well, making Mary smile with her combination of chocolate and mango but she did come last in the Technical.

Martha had her first horror of a week, despite a 3rd place finish in the Technical and some amazingly made Mini Beef Wellingtons, but her eclairs weren’t good enough for the judges, with a poorly made pastry cream. Everyone really likes Martha because she is just so young and she managed to impress Mel with an 8,000 word coursework on some profiteroles. Martha still hasn’t been Star Baker yet and any finalist could struggle to win without the security of Star Baker behind their back.

Mel and Sue were at their best again and I assure that the show would not be the same without them.


GBBO 14 Episode 6 Review: European Cakes Week

Thanks to a huge selection of European accents, a phenomenal amount of sugar work in the showstopper and Mel and Sue being on top form, this has to be my favourite week thus far. But who went in this tricky and tense week

Eliminated: Nobody

My Elimination Prediction: Kate (see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Chetna (finally!)

Chetna GBBO

Good: Luis, Nancy

Bad: Richard, Kate

Best Bake: Chetna’s Almond Liqueur Dobos Torte with Chocolate Caramel Buttercream


Chetna, the tent’s resident flavour queen, finally lifts the title of Star Baker. Her innovative use of Victoria Sponge for her Dobos Torte, caramel grapes (which reminded me of bubblewrap on the side) and phenomenal recovery in the Princess Cake Technical all secured Chetna’s place next week. She’s been slowly rising up the ranks and now it is just Martha, who wowed Paul in the Signature Challenge with her Chocolate and Almond Liqueur Savarin (she’s 17 and uses so much alcohol in her baking), who has not yet been crowned Star Baker. Will it be her turn next week or will Martha take the title of being one of the most consistent bakers in Bake Off?

Kate and Richard had a terrible week and both of them seemed to be equally bad throughout the week, leading to not only a tussle between Paul and Mary but for only the second time in Bake Off history, nobody being eliminated from the competition. This was only fair as all 6 bakers deserve to show off their skills for another week. Hopefully this is the last week of trouble for Richard as two bad weeks in a row is making him vulnerable, he is of course many people’s favourite.

Luis once again impressed this week with his great attention to detail in his sugar work for his Dobos Torte. He has been unflappable throughout the competition and is a sure favourite to make the final, however I do wonder when his bad week will come, much in the same way that Nancy has managed to be consistently good each week.

It’s becoming much harder to say goodbye to anyone but also to choose a clear outright winner. What else but another week of pastry will decide which of the 5 bakers deserve their spot in the quarter-finals?! Signature savoury pastry parcels, a Technical in which none of the bakers know what they are doing (rightfully) and 2 sets of showstopping eclairs are all on the menu next week. All I want is for Mel and Sue to continue to be as funny as ever.


GBBO 14 Episode 5 Review: Pies and Tarts Week

Pies and Tarts Week had some of the oddest challenges ever seen on Bake Off but 6 bakers managed to scrape through.

Eliminated: Diana (by default) and Norman

Diana GBBO Norman GBBO

My Elimination Prediction: Norman and Kate (see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Kate (deservedly!)


Good: Nancy

Bad: Richard, Martha

Best Bake: Kate’s Rhubarb, Prune and Apple Pies


Well Norman has finally run his course in the tent and four bad weeks in a row just meant that Norman was not at the standard of the remaining six bakers. Norman, who has been a fan favourite, left the tent on a high as he finally tackled the problem of being too simple with his Pieful Tower showstopper. Unfortunately his fate was sealed thanks to a lavender meringue. Although who could forget Norman trying to take a swig of that wine?!

Norman Wine

Kate finally won the Star Baker accolade and what a struggle she went through to take it. An incredible Rhubarb and Custard Tart complete with a rhubarb swirl was slated for having a poor flavour but a third place Technical finish and a phenomenal hot water crust showstopper pinched the title from Nancy, who had a pretty good week, starting with a passionfruit chocolate custard tart, 4th in the technical and a great trio of apple pies.

Martha and Richard, who are two of the favourites to take the crown in October, struggled this week for the first time. Both had poor signature custard tarts and burnt their showstoppers and not even a 1st place finish in a devilish Technical challenge could keep Martha away from the bottom. The strength of the remaining six bakers means it is hard to choose an outright favourite. Kate, Nancy, Luis and Chetna have not yet had a terribly bad week so the standard is much higher than all the series before, meaning everyone will have to up their game.

I was disappointed that there was hardly any mention of a soggy bottom this week but more than overjoyed by Nancy wanting to borrow Richard’s signature trademark Blue Pencil, the amount of innuendo and even reference to Bingate last week. Richard made sure that everyone knew that his puff pastry was on the middle shelf in the fridge so as not to cause any more Bingates or Custardgates.

Richard Fridge

I was very unsure about the timing on that Technical Challenge. Poaching pears take at least 30 minutes and for them to cool enough without the puff pastry, which also had very tight timing, so 2 hours was never really going to be enough to include baking time. Martha was very cunning to place some of the pears in before the others to ensure they were baked and she stole 1st. Richard fell foul of timing issues, as seen below!

Richard Oven

Next week the final 6 bakers tackle European Cakes… I have no words! A showstopping Hungarian Dobos Torte is on the menu but beyond that I’m still lost for words, I thought this was the Great British Bake Off, what about doing Regional Bakes or Baked Meals Week?