Monthly Archives: October 2012

Great British Bake Off Hangover.

For the last 2 months The Great British Bake Off has consumed my life, and that’s no exaggeration. Week upon week I have laughed, cried, rejoiced and dismayed at the baking trials and tribulations of Great Britain’s amateur bakers. There were firm favourites (James), some bungling bakers (Manisha, I mean seriously, what was she doing there) and finally a very deserved winner. And I have been glued to my television each week guided through the emotional roller-coaster of the tent kitchen by the effervescent duo, Mel and Sue. I am now at an utter loss, what does one do with their tuesday evenings? Alas, I allowed myself the remainder of the week to wallow in my post GBBO depression and grieved the lost of my favourite reality show with some appropriate activities.

Firstly, I tried a recipe by the ‘Master Baker’ himself, his unforgiving Eight Strand Plaited Loaf.  Unfortunately, I attempted this before watching his masterclass at the Good Food Show (more on that to come!) which provided me with a tonne of tips that would have made my first attempt a lot less traumatic.

The actual bread recipe is very simple, and nothing I haven’t done before. The plaiting however, left me mumbling numbers like a mad woman for near on half an hour with little success. However, after much perseverance I ended up with a reasonably well plaited loaf (well, all apart from the start, but for a first attempt I like to think it was okay).

After the ‘hard bit’ that was the plaiting, comes the ‘easy bit’ that is the proving and baking. Well, I say ‘easy’, I ended up leaving my bread to prove for too long, which meant my loaf ended up being more suitable for the ‘flatbread challenge’ of bread week than Mr Hollywood’s technical challenge. As my mother would say- it’ll taste fine regardless, and it did. But after my triumph at plaiting I was thoroughly dejected that I had messed up the easy stages. However, bread making is a learning curve, and my next attempt will hopefully be a lot better. That’s not to say that my bread failure didn’t push me further into a post GBBO depression.


My GBBO week ended with a trip to Glasgow to the BBC Good Food Show. Other than eating a horrendous amount of samples I also got the chance to meet the one and only Bake Off God’s- Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Who also signed my Great British Bake Off Book, a gave me a very cheery hello. After the excitement of watching two reasonably old people use a pen (one of the most momentous occasions for a keen baker, for everyone else, a relatively mundane way to spend an afternoon) I went to watch their masterclass, and got some great (although belated) tips regarding eight strand loafs. As well as some invaluable cake making tips from the Queen of Cakes, Mrs Berry. It certainly took the edge off my GBBO come down.

Here’s a link to Paul’s recipe, and please learn from my mistakes and keep an eye on your bread!


And fellow GBBO fans, all is not lost, we do not have to go cold turkey, Paul and Mary have Masterclasses all of this week on BBC 2.



Guest Blog- Rachel Versus Food

As I’m currently living in Washington D.C I’m trying to munch as many American classics as possible. So to treat myself after my first day of interning I walked the 20 minutes from the office to U-Street to visit a true American landmark- Ben’s Chili Bowl.

U-Street Legend ‘Ben’s Chili Bowl’

The history of this well-established local gem is fascinating. It was opened in 1958 in the building of an old silent movie house and still stands in the same location, despite a turbulent history of riots and financial downturn in the area. Attracting a wide fan base of local regulars and curious tourists Ben’s has a real American at-home atmosphere making even a lonely diner like me feel welcome. The walls are covered with pictures of its famous clientele ranging from Man versus Food legend Adam Richman to many a President and First Lady. Barack Obama, of course, eats for free.

How do I get on this list?

So I perched on a stool and ordered myself a feast- the Ben’s classic Chilli Half Smoke and a side of chilli fries. A Half smoke is half-pork and half-beef and wholly incredible. Probably the messiest thing I’ve ever eaten (the white blouse wasn’t an ideal outfit choice) but worth every bite. The chilli on top is mild enough for my lemon-and-herb-nandos-heat limit and extremely tasty. The same chilli tops the delicious fries which, I hate to admit, I only managed half of.

Enough to make you want to chant ‘USA USA!”

So I left an hour later full to the brim and wondering why Chilli Fries aren’t a big thing in England and hoping that I don’t become a ‘big thing’ whilst I’m over here. But hey if it’s good enough for Obama, it’s good enough for me.

Study Music- Take Thirteen (it’s been a while…)

So a new term has begun, thus I have taken to trawling the internet for new music in an attempt to avoid reading/essays/dissertation/life. I stumbled upon this gentlemen, a one George Ezra, and have had the few songs available on youtube on repeat ALL day. He has the most hauntingly beautiful voice and yet such an unassuming presence. A young man with an old soul- one of the better combinations. Now to give up my last cliched halloween as a student, no doubt drinking and dressing up , for a chance to hear him in a dingy pub in Glasgow- I am undecided. But if my obsession with these two tracks continue I may just have to.



Chocolate Orange Chelsea Buns.

This week has been national chocolate week- because the health conscious British Nation definitely need an excuse to let loose and indulge in a sugary snack. In spirit of the celebration I revamped the classic British recipe- Chelsea Buns, with the help of a serious amount of Nutella.


For the sweet dough;

500g/1lb strong white flour

1tsp salt

7g (1 and a half teaspoon) dried, fast action yeast

300ml/10fl oz warm milk

40g/1½oz unsalted butter, at room temp

1 egg

For the filling:

Zest of one orange

8 tbsp Nutella or Chocolate Spread

150g chocolate chips.


1) Sift the flour into a big bowl, add salt and yeast and mix together. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, slowly add the warm milk and the beaten egg to form a soft dough.

2) Place on a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is elastic.

3) Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film, leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

4) Remove from the bowl and knead for a further 5 minutes. Roll the dough out, using a rolling pin, into a rectangle shape of around 30cmx40cm, or until about the thickness of a pound coin.

5) Spread the Nutella across the top of the rectangle leaving a 2 cm gap along one side. Sprinkle on top the orange zest and chocolate chips.

6) Using a pastry brush, brush the open side with milk, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder. Cut up into 3cm slices and place upwards in a baking tray allowing a small gap in between for the dough to expand. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for one hour.

7) Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Remove the cling film and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

8) Remove from the oven and before cool cover with glaze made of a little bit of warm milk and caster sugar. Leave to cool on a wire rack or eat warm.

Kyle in the Kitchen- Stranoffee Pie.

Whether it’s called ‘Stranoffee’ pie or just ‘Stroffee’ Pie , I do not know and the debate rages on. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that Kyle’s strawberry take on Banoffee is damn delicious.

Stranoffee Pie


300g/10.5 ounces Digestive Biscuits

60g/2 ounces Butter, melted

200g/7 ounces Strawberry

200ml double cream

50g/ 1-2 ounces dark chocolate,melted

For the Caramel;

115g/ 4 ounces Butter

55g/2 ounces Caster Sugar

130ml Condensed Milk


1) Put the biscuits into an air tight bag and seal. Using a rolling pin, bash the biscuits into crumbs. Tip the biscuit crumbs into a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix together,  spoon the crumbs into the base of a loose bottom cake tin and about halfway up the sides of the tin to make a pie shell. Chill for 10 minutes.

2. Melt the butter and sugar in a non-stick saucepan over a low heat, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Add the condensed milk and bring to a rapid boil for about a minute, stirring all the time for a thick golden caramel. Spread the caramel over the base, cool and then chill for about 1 hour, until firm or until ready to serve.

3. Carefully lift the pie from the tin and place on a serving plate. Slice the strawberries; fold half of them into the softly whipped cream and spoon over the base. Decorate the top with more halved strawberries, complete the look by melting dark chocolate and drizzling it over the cream. Additionally, if desired, extra dark chocolate can be grated over the top of the pie.

Rosemary Focaccia

This recipe is based on the great Paul Hollywood’s recipe, it’s a simple and effective base recipe which allows you to add whatever flavours you wish.


500g/1lb 2oz Strong White Flour

2tsp of salt

2 sachets of dried yeast (works out to 3 tbsp or 14g)

2tbsp of Olive Oil

350 ml of cold water

handful of rosemary (whatever your personal preference is) plus more for topping

Sea Salt to finish.


1)In a large bowl place the flour, salt, yeast and sprigs of rosemary, roughly mix together. In a measuring jug, measure your water and add the olive oil to the top of this. Using a wooden spoon, mix the water gradually into the flour mixture to form a dough.

2) Place the dough on a oiled surface and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough is elastic. The bbcgoodfood website has a really useful guide to kneading techniques. Bread Kneading with Paul Hollywood

3) Once kneaded, tuck into a rough ball shape and place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

4) Once the dough has doubled in size, place on a floured surface and knead for a further 5 minutes to remove the excess air from the dough.

5) Oil a baking sheet and place the dough on it, stretching the dough with your hands to make it fit to the size of the baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour.

6) After this hour, the dough should be springy to touch.

7) Preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

8) Using your fingers, push small holes through out the dough, then place whatever herb you wish to use into the gaps, I used rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

9) Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve warm.

I also made a sun-dried tomato and basil focaccia, with the same basic bread mixture. To provide the bread with a little more colour, replace the oil in the bread mixture with oil the sun-dried tomatoes are stored in.