How I got into baking, GBBO + why it's not as easy as it looks!
WARNING: GBBO SPOILERS
Hello everyone! I am really enjoying writing these blogs and so, obviously, I HAVE to write about the other love of my life (there's 3 I think) - BAKING. In this post, I'm going to talk about how I first got into baking, which bakers really inspire me, why The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) is the most exciting show ever AND why baking a cake is not as easy as it looks. So, go get a cup of tea, a slice of cake and prepare yourself for a very tempting post!
If you know me, then you will undoubtedly know that food is a MASSIVE part of my life. And if you don't know me, then food is a MASSIVE part of my life. Growing up and until the last year or so, I've never really had a sweet tooth. Savoury food was always my go to. Don't get me wrong, I would thoroughly enjoy a slice of cake, I can eat a large quantity of chocolate in one sitting and if there's chocolate biscuits at home, then the limit does NOT exist. But sweet food would never excite me as much as savoury food.
My first great baking revelation was at school, when they taught us how to make no-bake cheesecakes. Now, growing up, I knew that my mum would sometimes bake cheesecakes but I had never heard of a no-bake version. It was quite clearly a lightbulb moment - you layer the biscuits, you add your lemon, cream, and cream cheese mix et voila ! You have an edible cheesecake in less than a few hours. Obviously, I had to try this at home. Now, before you all judge me, the lighting is TERRIBLE in this picture but it's the start of my baking "journey", so I have to share it. My very first baking experience: a no-bake lemon cheesecake.
Okay, MAYBE it isn't as bad as I thought, but it's hardly a work of art. The lemon on top looks like a move one of the dancers would copy on strictly come dancing, the piping is satisfactory at best, and the lighting is quite frankly, embarrassing (it's still not great now - unless my sister takes the picture for me). BUT, it tasted great. I repeated this recipe quite a few times. I can still remember the COUNTLESS amount of times where I would add too much butter to the biscuit base, resulting in a rock hard base that would probably bounce off your plate if you tried to break it. Anyways, it's all a learning experience.
This was in 2015, which was coincidently also the year I started watching the GBBO. Although the show had started in 2010 and I had heard of it, I never really got round to watching it. But, when I followed the 2015 series, from the beginning, to the end, I was hooked. From the hilarious presenting duo, Mel and Sue (the OGs of bake-off), to Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. I loved it all. To top it off, Nadiya Hussain won that year and it was amazing, brilliant, emotional and just so great. I'm so loyal that even when the show moved to Channel 4, and Mary, Mel and Sue didn't move with it, I continued to be a loyal fan. I know that's pretty controversial but it's the BAKE OFF. And to be fair, I love Noel and Sandy just as much. Especially Noel, he seems like so much fun. And well, Mary Berry just cannot be replaced.
After winning the bake-off, Nadiya went on to have a successful career on TV, writing cookbooks, children's books and her OWN book. I for one, absolutely adore her. In her series of bake-off, she wasn't that confident and didn't appear to believe in herself and that made me want her to do well even more. But after winning, she is literally goals. Her most recent tv series 'Nadiya Bakes' was an absolute treat. Her ideas are amazing, her bakes look delicious, she looks amazing in her bright jumpers and she is just such an inspiration. I urge you all to watch it on BBC iplayer.
Another cook which I really LOVE is Nigella. I would watch a lot of her older cooking shows even before her new one came out, just a few weeks ago. Her style of cooking is just so attractive. I remember in her older shows she would finish the show and as the credits were rolling, you would see her get out of bed and eat the leftovers from the fridge. I'm pretty sure thats why I love her - she is just so relatable. You also see her wandering around London and it makes her shows so fun to watch. And her pantry? If my future pantry doesn't look like that, then I will have failed at life. Her new series 'Cook, Eat, Repeat', also gives off the same vibes that her old shows would. There's Nigella, sitting comfortably with a massive loaf of bread at her side. What's not too love? Again, a major inspiration.
Once I had mastered the cheesecakes in various forms, I started to make Mary Berry's Victoria Sponge. It was a hit with my family, especially my mum who requests it at every opportunity. I loved making this cake. It was simple, easy, delicious and best of all by Mary Berry. If she can't encourage you to bake then nobody can. I made a lot of Victoria Sponges. Then, I discovered a recipe by Lorraine Pascal for her Malteser Cake. It was just a simple chocolate cake, covered in chocolate buttercream and then covered in Maltesers. It's so soft, chocolatey and again, absolutely delicious. Now I had 3 cakes up my sleeve, I would vary between them all, sometimes making cupcake versions, adding Oreos to my cheesecake, that sort of thing. I officially became the cake person in my family. If you make cakes regularly, then you'll know what I mean by 'cake person', you're the go-to for making cake. I was more than happy to be of service.
However, it was only until I moved to France for a gap year that my baking really took off. My uncle has a big sweet tooth and we both shared a mutual love for cakes. In December, last year, we decided to attempt a Fraisier together. This was our first go - not bad eh? After that, we made many traditional french cakes together. You can check them out here: @cakelicious_bym. From then on, every weekend, me and my uncle would be attempting something. It was so much fun baking with him, and he really pushed me to try things that I might have been too scared to attempt alone. It was the best time. After baking a few cakes successfully, my uncle, family and friends encouraged me to create an instagram so I could showcase my bakes. Then it became even more fun. We would spend all Saturday baking, and all Sunday eating. It was a very enjoyable tradition.
So, up until the end of February, I would be baking many cakes regularly. Sometimes for birthdays, sometimes for family and sometimes just to eat them. I then went to Pakistan for 4 months and I really missed baking. Although I did taste some nice cakes from the more modern bakeries, Pakistan's cake game really isn't it. Although the rest of the food is amazing, of course.
I came back to Glasgow at the end of July, and I continued baking here. Again, I would spend all of Saturday in the kitchen, baking something new. It wasn't the same without my uncle but I kept going. My sweet tooth had now really kicked in. If I didn't eat cake at least once a week, I felt as if I was missing out. As soon as I got back, I ordered all the stuff I need to bake from Amazon. From simple cake tins to fancy silicone moulds, I purchased it all! It's actually really satisfying to know that you can attempt any recipe, if you have all the equipment.
THE THINGS NOBODY TELLS YOU ABOUT BAKING
Now, I'm not about to say that baking isn't worth it. There is no feeling like creating something that tastes and looks good, but it is simply NOT AS EASY as it looks. (This could be because I am a perfectionist, but for the purpose of this blog let's pretend I'm not).
Firstly, THE TIME. Making a cake takes longer than you may think. You have to make the cake mix, divide the cake mix into layers, and bake them all. Depending on the size of the cake, you might have to do this step separately. THEN you have to wait for them to cool COMPLETELY before you can begin decorating them. I mean that takes a few hours already.
Secondly, THE BACKACHE. Sometimes, I have spent 7 or 8 hours standing in the kitchen whilst making a single cake. It really is very time consuming and at the end of the day even sitting doesn't ease the pain. You need sleep. It's very exhausting (but so worth it).
Thirdly, THE DISHES. You would be AMAZED at the amount of dishes that baking generates. 10 minutes into baking a cake and the sink is full. Cake batter, buttercream, whipped cream, icing, chocolate or even caramel are NOT easy to clean off.
Fourthly, PRACTISE REALLY DOES MAKE PERFECT. Baking is an art. You really do have to practise it regularly to become good at it. If anybody tells you they made a picture perfect cake the first time, then they are probably lying. It's most probably the 6th attempt and is likely to fall to pieces after the picture has been taken !
Despite all these untold facts, baking really is worth it. Highly recommend.
The Great British Bake Off
So if you are reading this, you'll know that today/yesterday was the GBBO final. I am SO SO SO pleased that Peter won. I was backing him from the start for many reasons. First of all he's from Scotland, so plus points already. Second of all he studied Accounting, again more points because so did I. Lastly but not at all least, he LISTENS to his cakes to see if they are cooked through. I mean, legend! He is just so thorough, organised and I believe he truly deserved that win!
The final was tense, wasn't it? The other two finalists, Laura and Dave, were equally great. I think that Laura is an amazing baker. She sometimes gets herself into a bit of a panic, but I think we all would if we were baking for Paul and Prue. She delivered some truly stunning bakes over the competition. My favourite thing about her style of baking was that, it's always food that you WANT to eat. She focuses on classic flavours, like one week where she made a cheese and onion pasty, I think? Who can say no to that! I can remember countless times where she was praised by the judges for her flavours. And the jelly cake she made? It looked amazing! Well done Laura! Dave. Now, we all seen that 'hilarious-now-but-wasn't-hilarious-then moment' where in the first week, Sura dropped Dave's cakes in the technical challenge. He was mortified and poor Sura, she felt so guilty. However, that didn't stop him and he kept going with fabulous bakes along the way. The final was so close. As a viewer you could see that it was between him and Peter, and you really could not call it. I think he was an amazing baker, like all the finalists were, but obviously being Scottish (and loving Peter from week 1), I was backing Peter all the way. I am so pleased he won!
As we all know, bake-off has had many great contestants and winners. Anyone remember Liam? He was a young, cheeky baker and he won the hearts of many. Unfortunately, he didn't win, BUT still managed to get his own show on the BBC. He also wrote a cookbook. What else could you want! He seemed like such a lovely person.
Then we (the British public) had this crazy, crazy obsession with Selasi and Benjamina. They were both contestants on the show, on the same series and appeared to share a great friendship. However, that wasn't enough for the British public, as they all (including me, I have to say) wanted the two to get together. It just goes to show how we really can create something of nothing. What a nation.
And Rahul. Who can forget Rahul. He started off as a shy, not so confident baker that slowly blossomed into a fabulous personality and ended up winning the show. Even now, on instagram, you can see him leave the most loveliest comments to his fellow bakers. He really did win the hearts of the nation.
I would LOVE to go on bake-off one day. I still need to practise a lot, I haven't even started looking at pastry or bread but it definitely is a goal. Baking in the tent for Paul Hollywood? Who can say no to that!
Anyways, that's the end of this post. I really hope you enjoyed reading my baking journey. Let me know who you would have liked to see win (if it wasn't Peter) and why! Follow me on socials for updates on my posts. Thanks for reading!