gillybirds

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An Evening with Paul Hollywood

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Last night my dear friend CC and I spent two hours with Paul Hollywood – you know-the one with the piercing blue eyes and silver grey beard from Great British Bake Off that isn’t Mary Berry.
It was ¬£32 per ticket. If Mr H had got his way with us we would have spent a shed load more on his recipe book, aprons, tea towels, calendars, t shirts, fridge magnets…
Fortunately I only had my bus money home, and CC kindly bought and shared a minute bottle of white wine which we had to drink in the foyer before the show even started.
Others were not so restrained. At the interval and the end of the show there was a bit of a scrum and a scramble round the merchandise table.
It was a cooking show. However to take home the recipes you had to buy the programme. Oh wait. We spent all CCs cash on a thimble full of wine. So no recipes then. Oops.
Sure we could always buy his new book. Did he mention he had a new book out? Yes. About every sixty seconds.

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On the way to the theatre CC casually mentioned that Paul brings people up from the audience to assist him with the baking. Well, dear reader, my blood ran cold. On a previous night out with CC I ended up on stage as a magician’s assistant for the fabulous David Meade. (There are photos to prove it.) So the thought of donning a PH apron and massaging his dough made me feel quite faint. We were sitting in the balcony so I thought we were probably a safe enough distance not to be chosen.
With a nod to Christmas PH demonstrated four recipes. Chocolate roulade, baked brie, mince pies and Stilton, walnut and pear bread.
They looked easy to prepare, and smelt delicious even from where we were sitting. I’m not giving you the recipes. You’ll have to buy the book.
The audience, mostly ladies, were salivating. We were encourage to tweet and instagram (ask your grandchildren) live directly to PH himself on stage. He read out the ones he was able to. It was a family show after all.
At one point Paul accidentally dusted his immaculate black shirt with flour. “Get your shirt off” come a shout from somewhere behind us. I rolled my eyes. This was a baking show, not the Chippendales. But PH gives as good as it gets when it comes to banter from the adoring ladies in the audience. He strode about the stage wagging his rolling pin and those blue eyes looking menacing. The heat wasn’t just from the ovens.
Audience members also had an opportunity to ask baking related questions directly. The giggling ladies brought on stage managed their tasks well. And got to keep their PH aprons as a reward. The winner of the bread dough shaping competition even got a signed copy of…well, you guessed it, his latest book.
Paul spent most of the night telling us anecdotes about his side kick, the fabulous Mary Berry- or Maz Bez- as he calls her. And he encouraged more entries from our fair land for the next series of Great British Bake Off. Provided we didn’t throw our baking in the bin, referring to our local bake off contestant Ian who “lost the bap” as we say in these parts, and chucked his melted Baked Alaska into the trash.
When the bread was baked, Paul cut it into chunks and threw it into the crowd. There was an undignified scramble for a taste in the front five rows.
Us ladies sitting upstairs even got to sample the baked brie. This for me was the highlight of the evening. Made by PH himself. Even eating it with our bare hands off a paper plate it was delicious. Brie cheese, with Parma ham and cranberry sauce wrapped in pastry and baked for 20 minutes. Yum. It would have gone very well with the toothful of crisp white wine we had imbibed in the foyer before the show.
It was all great fun. Not perhaps the amazing baking demonstration I had been anticipating, but an interesting study of how Mrs Joe Public behaves when face to face with a TV baker oozing with charm just like his baked brie.
CC and I are booked for an evening with Michael McIntyre in Nov 2015. I wonder if he will have a book out too?

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Mr Paul Hollywood. To misquote Meghan Trainor for me “it’s all about the bake”.

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#Team Kimberley

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So excited that tonight is the final of the Great British Bake Off!
With only “style over substance”Frances, “I’m a disaster” Ruby and the cool calm and collected Kimberley left, my money has been on Kimberley since Week One.
It was our Harvest Thanksgiving on Sunday and just as last year the Gillybirds little daily eggy harvest was polished and brought along for display. This year in tribute to the Bake Off I made a hopefully artistic display of the ingredients we use for baking – flour, sugar and eggs and some baking utensils etc alongside the flowers in a big rustic jug.
Go Kimberley!

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A Cake Fit For Angels

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Who would have thought baking could make such exciting television? The Great British Bake Off. 13 bakers. In a marquee. Ingredients. Challenges. Creativity. Mistakes. The smell if burning. The taste of Despair. Its unmissable.
A few weeks ago the technical challenge was to make an Angel Food Cake. Considering myself a bit of a Domestic Goddess (no modesty then!) I had never heard of this cake and immediately googled it. Basically an egg white foam with a little flour and baked in a special ring tin. How hard can it be?

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Following the BBC Good Food recipe for Angel Food Cake with lemon and passion fruit curd I set out to make a shopping list. As you can see, rather a lot of lemons are required. Eight. (You can tell from my scribbled shopping list that the editor could have done a better job of listing the ingredients.)
And eggs. Ten! (that’s four days laying for us) The yolks make the curd and the whites make the cake.The Gillybirds have had a great week of laying thankfully.

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An Angel Food Cake Tin is a specialist piece of baking equipment so I improvised with a 10 inch round tin and filled a soup tin (empty) with baking beans to create a ring mould in the centre. No greasing of the tin surface- to cool you must sit the cake upside down so it needs to adhere to the cake tin sides (yet be loose enough to let go once cooled). Quite a challenge.

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It was such a beautiful autumn day the inverted cake cooled in the garden (out of the reach of greedy dogs) while I chilled outside too.

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Thankfully it came away very cleanly from the cake tin.

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I made the delicious lemon curd yesterday and topped the cream covered cake with it. Spoon licking highly recommended at this stage. Mmmmm

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When Life Gives You Lemons

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The Gillybirds have been laying very well and I had a massive glut of eggs. This combined with some heavily discounted lemons, led to a baking session yesterday using Paul Hollywood’s great book “How to Bake”, in particular his Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. It gets a big thumbs up from all the Gillyboys and Mr G himself. Today we shared some of this yummy pud with my parents, since mum cooked a massive rib roast for us all complete with mini Yorkshire puddings!
The list of ingredients includes 6 lemons and no less than 12 eggs. It may sound extravagant but it is well worth it. Today i served twelve portions, and a little of this goes a long way! If you enjoyed the Great British Bake Off on tv recently Paul’s book focuses more on bread making whereas Mary Berry’s books are mostly about baking.

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Until I discovered this recipe we always made lemon meringue pie using a wee sachet of powder lemony stuff adding water and an egg yolk and stirring on the stove, making sure the lemon capsule broke to release the flavour of lemons, It is one of the earliest recipes I remember helping my mum to bake. I can honestly say that the process of making my own lemon curd is not any more complicated than this artificial mix, and tastes so much better.

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