October 23, 2014, Posted by Richard in Baking Bad, Culture, Food, Recipes

Baking Bad – Paul Hollywood special

As soon as a copy of Paul Hollywood’s new tome slammed onto the MWSAB desk, we were eagerly thumbing through it, deciding what slice of gold we were going to bake the hell out of. And, gosh-darn it, when even the Silver Fox himself demanded we document the process, it was clear this called for another round of BAKING BAD.

Since our last adventure, Tom Noble had seen fit to leave behind his ‘characterful’ Islington flat for some delightful new lodgings in London’s exotic Crouch End.

‘It’s like a Spanish Villa!’ Ben Willis spluttered, washing the tobacco and more miscellaneous filth from his fingers as he prepared to cook.

‘Tell me about it,’ Tom rejoined, thrusting cans of lager into the fridge and inexplicably spreading plain flour on top of the dishwasher.

Tom flours the dishwasher

Bakewell Pudding

With compliments offered and filthy fingers scrubbed, it was time to crack open a can and get bloody baking.

Sweat coursing down his cheek and into the gap where he accidentally shaved without the guard on his razor, Tom grappled manfully with the puff pastry. Before long the top of his dishwasher was adorned with a golden crown. Mesmerised, I watched him inserting it into a cake tin with the care and affection of a young lad applying glue to his first Spitfire Airfix kit.

The pastry placed, it was now time for me to shine. After a brief debate about what’s a dessert spoon and what’s a table spoon, I dutifully dolloped some raspberry jam into the mix. Textbook.

Wearied by our exertions, we stuck the brute into the fridge (post-lager removal), and headed to the soft embrace of the lounge area to watch a beleaguered Liverpool stretched apart by Real Madrid like the very pastry we had just been manipulating.

Half-time, and back to the kitchen. It was time to whack the rest of the ingredients into a bowl. Wham! No bother. Cristiano Ronaldo might have an extraordinary goalscoring record in the champions league, but by God I’d be surprised if he could combine eggs and milk this well. Mixture now added to the cooled jam and pastry party, it was time to bang the whole thing into a pre-heated oven and let that bad boy bake.

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They call me the dollop king (unfortunately)



Ben Willis may have turned up an hour late after taking the wrong train, having to take solace in a nearby kebab shop as the kindly proprietors juiced his iPhone5 and offered him cigarettes, but that wasn’t going to hinder him, especially after Tom and I had already sorted out the mixture.

To describe the breathtaking dexterity with which he fingered the dough is nigh on impossible. He reminded me of a master-puppeteer, who, with a flick of his pinkie, could create such nuanced changes in his puppets’ movements as to make us think those wooden sods were real.

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A master at work

Later, we crowded around the oven like excited kiddiewinks on Christmas morn. Had Santa been? You better believe it. The golden treats which awaited us in that piping prison were nothing short of basically edible. Tom in particular was so taken aback by the sight and smell of the slightly charred pastry that he became overcome with nostalgia for his northern childhood. Proust had his madeleines, Noble had his Bakewell Pudding.

Bidding our host and, dare I say it – friend – adieu, Ben and I hastened out into the night. We shivered against the chill, hurrying past a dimly lit Londis on the way to the bus stop. But whilst the night air did its best to infiltrate our coats, it was powerless against the warm glow that throbbed in our hearts.

Quite simply, we had baked our little socks off.

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Finished article 1: Bakewell Pudding

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Finished article 2: Jumbles

Both of these actually turned out really rather well, and there are some excellent recipes in this beautifully produced book. Whether you fancy tackling some of Paul’s brilliant British recipes for yourself, or need some early Christmas-shopping inspiration, we heartily recommend you part with your dosh for this one.

PHBB packshot

Paul Hollywood’s British Baking is out now from Bloomsbury

October 22, 2014, Posted by Tom in Food, Recipes

Autumn Recipes from John Whaite and Tony Singh

It’s getting cold, leaves are falling, it’s nearly time for the yellow ball, and people are already talking about Christmas. But the good thing about this time of year is the food – we’re all about keeping warm with hearty stews, pies, roasts, the lot. If you’re looking for something new to cook, try these bloody lovely autumn recipes from Bake Off legend John Whaite and one half of the Incredible Spice Men, Tony Singh…

John Whaite‘s ‘Packed Macaroni Cheese’

This is perfect if prepared the day before and baked when required. Those of a delicate disposition should stop reading now, because I have to serve this with a ferociously hot chilli sauce – the type you’d expect to find in a kebab shop.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 12.45.58

Serves 8

500g macaroni pasta
1 tsp olive oil
6 chestnut mushrooms,
finely sliced
4 rashers unsmoked back bacon, chopped into 1cm chunks
25ml vodka
4 spring onions, finely chopped
6 asparagus spears, chopped into 1cm chunks
1/2 small can sweetcorn
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
For the sauce
1 and 1/2 tbsp butter
1 and 1/2 tbsp plain flour
650ml milk
250g Epoisses cheese, cut into small chunks (if unavailable, use a good Brie de Meaux)
70g Stilton cheese, cut into small chunks
100g strong Cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp truffle oil

Essential equipment
Deep baking tray/dish of about 30 Σ 20 cm/12 Σ 8 inches

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6.
2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add a tablespoon of salt then plunge in the pasta and boil for 7 minutes. Drain the pasta, discarding the salty water.
3. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the chestnut mushrooms and bacon and fry, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is cooked through and the mushrooms are soft. Add the vodka, spring onions, asparagus and sweetcorn, and fry for just a minute more. Remove from the heat and toss together with the pasta, salt and pepper. Put in the baking tray.
4. To make the sauce, put the butter in a medium saucepan and set over a high heat. Once the butter has melted, beat in the flour to make a thick brown goo. On the heat, add the milk about 200ml at a time, whisking very well after each addition. Allow the sauce to come to the boil and thicken, still stirring, then reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheese, though reserve a quarter of the Cheddar for topping. Mix these in until they melt into the sauce, then stir in the truffle oil.
5. Pour the sauce over the pasta, bacon and vegetables, ensuring they are well covered. Sprinkle the remaining grated Cheddar over the top, then bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the pasta on top is cheesy and slightly crispier.

JOHN WHAITE BAKES AT HOME is out now in hardback and ebook

Also, John has created an amazing collection of Halloween recipes with his partner, Paul Atkins. Find out more and download the recipes here. They’re ruddy brilliant.


Tony Singh‘s baked sausages with apples, mushroom and beer gravy

This is a ‘toad-in-the-hole’ of epic flavour. When I was growing up, my mum used to make this for tea but it was never called ‘toad-in-the-hole’. So when I was having tea at a friend’s house one afternoon, I was so excited when he told me we were having this exotic- and weird-sounding dish called ‘toad-in-the-hole’. How deflated was I when it was just baked sausages… When I got home I had words with my mum, asking her to explain why it wasn’t called that in our family. The only explanation I got was that the name made her squeamish – as if we would ever have had toads in the house!

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 12.48.31Serves 6

rapeseed oil
50g butter
8 large good-quality pork sausages
8 fresh thyme sprigs
2 Russet apples, peeled cored and cut into chunks
1 Bramley apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks half the size of the Russet ones
2 tbsp chopped parsley, to garnish

3 eggs
280ml full-fat milk
100g plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt

splash of vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
250g Spanish onions, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp treacle
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
600ml ale of your choice (I would use Eighty Shilling or any good brown ale)
600ml strong chicken stock, or chicken stock cube(s) dissolved in 600ml water
4–6 large portabello mushrooms, sliced
1½ tsp cornfl our mixed with 3 tbsp cold water

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. Mix the batter ingredients together and put in the fridge.
2. Pour 1cm rapeseed oil into a 20 x 25cm baking tin, then place this on the middle shelf of your oven. Place tin foil on the shelf below to catch any oil or batter that come over the top.
3. Put a splash of oil in a heavy-based frying pan and when it is hot add the butter and brown the sausages all over then take them out of the pan. Take the tin out of the oven – the oil should be smoking – and place your sausages, thyme and apple in it. Carefully pour over the batter; it will bubble and possibly even spit a little, so be careful. Gently put the tin back in the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes. Don’t open the door for at least 20 minutes, so as not to ruin the batter – it can be a bit temperamental when rising. Remove from the oven when golden and crisp.
4. For the gravy, heat a fi lm of oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the garlic and onion till soft. Add salt and pepper and turn up the heat. Assoon as the onions take on some colour, add the treacle and Worcestershire and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the beer and bubble until reduced to a syrup, then add the stock, bring to the boil and add the mushrooms. Reduce to a simmer and reduce by half then stir in the cornfl our mixture and bring to boil. Season and serve with the sausages.

TASTY by Tony Singh is out now in hardback and ebook

April 10, 2014, Posted by Tom in Food, Recipes

John Whaite’s Perfect Hangover Cure

Beat that hangover with this delicious recipe from Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite…

Stumbling in from a night out, or awakening the morning after feeling slightly worse for wear, it’s guaranteed that I will need something remedial and rapid. This is the perfect solution.

The innovation of using crisps for speed comes from Omar Allibhoy, and it works wonderfully.

How to make your Super Soaker Spanish Omelette


3 eggs
75g tangy cheese nachos
50g chorizo sausage, chopped into small cubes
2 spring onions, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
30g manchego cheese, grated
30g green olives, pitted, roughly chopped

Essential Equipment

Small frying pan


  1. Put the frying pan over a medium-high heat and leave to heat up.
  2. Beat the eggs in a small mixing bowl, crush in the nachos and allow to soak for a few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile place the chorizo into the hot pan and allow to heat up, and release its spiced orange juices. When heated through, add the chorizo to the eggs and nachos, along with the spring onions, salt, pepper, cheese and olives. Give it a little stir, then pour back into the pan and heat on one side for about 2 minutes, then flip – carefully – and fry on the other side for 2 minutes more. Serve, as I do when slightly blotto, from the pan.

For loads of other great recipes from John, check out his brand new book: John Whaite Bakes At Home


Follow John on Twitter: @JohnWhaiteBakes