Cottonrake: English Custard Tart

I’ve just had a taste sensation that will stay with me for a very, very long time. These last couple of days, I’ve had a flavour of what life might have been like if I had made the choices many urged me to make – my lovely wife went to work put people to sleep

7-day NHS a huge pay cut for Trainee Doctors

– I have spent most of my clinical years in medical school hanging around the wards and listening to doctors moan. They moan most about the NHS. Some common nuggets include: “Why are you here?” and “Get out whilst you can” and “Be a baker. You’ll be much happier.” Cutting doctors’ pay would probably drown any remaining morale. Already,

Summer Lager Taste Test

As Britain is drowned in mediocre craft beer and crusty real ale, it’s easy to overlook the lager. Understated, humble lager. Given a bad name by the macrobreweries that ruin them, some examples deserve some serious respect. No, they aren’t swamped with hops, barrel-aged or 15% abv, but give them a little sunshine and they cannot

First Leaders’ Debate Drinking Game

– 1 finger every time: Natalie Bennet mentions ‘Climate Change’ Nick Clegg looks straight at the camera to make him appear more human Nigel Farage mentions ‘immigration’ ‘migrants’ or ‘Britishness’ Ed Miliband repeats an exact phrase twice or more Leanne Wood says something that definitely doesn’t sound like it is spelled Nicola Sturgeon uses the

Banana Bombs

I’ve just had a bite of a Banana Bomb. As I bit through the just-crunchy skin and into the moist flesh within, life stopped. Oh, the pleasure. But then I panicked. As I swallowed, it was like it had found a hidden fistula that bypassed my intestines, instead sneaking straight into each vulnerable nook of every artery. There

Cinnamon Buns

Boredom. Not boredom like I’ve been doing nothing and have nothing to do; what I have to do is so tedious that my mind is wandering onto nearly anything that interrupts the monotony. My medical finals are in three days. And as I do the 3000th MCQ or past paper question today, I think it’s

Referendum

The oil? Who cares. It does not matter. In a mere 100 years, Scotland would still be independent and the oil would be long-gone. I’ve stayed out of the debate as much as I could bear. To potentially polarise my already diminishing demographic? My publishers would be appalled. My single foray into the promotion of the

Blueberry Pizza

This isn’t even distraction from writing my book. This is a recipe going in my new book. I thought I’d share it on here because it’s special.   BLUEBERRY PIZZA This recipe exists because of a wee boy called Elliot. The lovely Sarah Lavelle (@InnatelyN8), who is going to be editing this book and edited my

Pizza Cake

Hullo! Today, I’ve been distracted from the furious final dash to deliver the manuscript of my 2nd book on time. There was one post/possible-troll that kept popping up on assorted social media that I just could not ignore. The Pizza Cake. This genius concept (for it is still just that: a concept) comes from Canadian chain Boston Pizza, who are asking

How to Make Cider (or Scrumpy)

This isn’t intended as a guide on how to make the most artisanal product in the world – this is a guide on how to make a genuinely nice, drinkable cider for those of us who live in cities, in flats or without a supply of time, cash and apple trees. The above juice was

A letter to the #GBBO haters

The Bake-Off comes to a close for another year with more innuendo, innovation and twitter abuse than ever before. And I’m sad that it is this last point that has come to define this series as far as the press is concerned – reading certain fascist publications, it seems some contestants can cause differences of

The Power of Pots

The Power of Pots If you’ve read my book (did you know I’ve got a book out?), you might have noticed I’m a fan of baking bread in cast-iron pots. It’s simple: all you’ve got to do is preheat your pot, lid and all, to as hot as your oven goes. Then, slide your risen

Behind Brilliant Bread

This article was originally published in Shetland Life magazine and was written upon receiving my first copy of “Brilliant Bread” Writing a book not long after finding yourself churned from a reality television show, you come to expect a standard set of questions from tabloid journalists: “Has your life changed? How long did it take

Focaccia

UPDATE! Check out this awesome video for a comprehensive guide. For the full recipe, see down the bottom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh5WLi0kYWo Hullo everyone! One question I get asked most often by those who have got my book is: “what recipe should I start with??” Usually, what I suggest tends to vary depending on my mood. But the most

Bread Beckons

Last night’s GBBO4 debut brought back some memories. The initial exhilaration at meeting Mel and Sue. Memories of the massive marquee and the hundreds of insects that would congregate in the peaks of its rolling ceiling. And memories of the intense nausea brought on by faltering self-control in the face of unlimited cake and its

Mars Bar Macarons

So, this is the first blog in a while. But I’m going to get back into it. Whilst I’ve been quiet here and on the twittersphere, I’ve been busy polishing off a book, writing plenty of recipe columns for the Sunday Mail (note: not associated with the Daily Mail) and trying to learn lots of

BakeryBits Bread Baking Kit Giveaway

Yet another corporate sell out having to resort to free giveaways to generate traffic for his blog? No, actually. This is something I’ve been working personally to organise for a while. The unadulterated truth is that for getting professional bread baking results at home, there is only one place I get my bread stuff: BakeryBits.

Christmas Mincemeat Tarte Tatin

Let’s face it: Christmas should be care-free. It should be for curling up near something warm with a hot and spicy mug of mull. Is it ever? I’ll concede that when it comes to baking and Christmas, sometimes it’s really worth making the effort. Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, panettone… I wouldn’t ever rush them. As

Yum Yums

The artisanal Yum Yum is the best thing you will ever taste.   At the request of a certain sister of a certain member of One Direction, I tentatively present my very best recipe: Yum Yums. I’ve got a feeling I’ll have to spend the rest of my life dealing with the health repercussions of this

14-Hour Meringues

Why the hell would you spend 14 hours making meringues? How the hell CAN you spend 14 hours making meringues? Because these are quite lovely. They are somewhere between your traditional crisp meringue and the soft and light poached meringue. They are fluffy and cloud-like, but have a light and delicate crisp coating around the

Raise some Dough for Children in Knead

This is just an idea. Bake sales are popular. You can’t turn a corner without the local sexual health charity peddling rude cupcakes or student communists shouting after you to try their patisserie. Bake sales are popular because they represent all things brilliant in society. They not only raise mind-boggling cash for charity, but they’re

Mug Bread

MUG BREAD This is all you need.   Homemade bread should be ubiquitous. It is cheaper than buying bread. It requires less effort than popping to the shops to buy bread. It is more delicious than any bought bread. And the satisfaction and smell of a freshly baked loaf brings you as close as you

Balsamic Onion Baguettes with Shaping Guide

Balsamic Onion Baguettes This was a bread brought out of necessity. I had the hunger to bake last night, and it needed satiated. But shock! Only a little strong flour left and I didn’t quite feel like cake, so I checked out the fridge. Onions and eggs. You can make fantastic bread without bread flour,

Bread Bubbles and Crusts

Bubbles are what make bread big. Have you ever noticed the bubbles that litter the artisan loaf? No, not those inner bubbles. Those bubbles that are elusive until the crust is cut and are so exquisitely enormous and irregular in such a bread are not the bubbles I mean. Those bubbles collectively make up the

BrewDog #MixDog Cocktail Competition

There are a few areas in which the BrewDog lads from Fraserburgh cannot be faulted. The first is their unrelenting drive to introduce US-style craft beer (and so pimped up tasted buds) to the whole of the country. The other area in which they excel is their marketing. And it is into one of these

The UPDATED #GBBO Drinking Game!

After far too many complaints and even several hospital admissions from the original iteration of the ‘just too hardcore” Great British Bake-Off drinking game, I was forced to make it a little more liver friendly in the form of the “Semi-Skimmed” version. For your diet coke, or Fortnum’s chai. But for the magnificent Series 4

The Great British Bake-Off – Behind the Scenes

Article published in Shetland Life magazine, September 2012. This is the unedited version, so apologies for errors!   Despite the multiple interviews, the auditions, the many warnings, the psychologist screening, the screen testing and endless whisking, I’d made a decisive error: who’s idea was it to wear Fair Isle?   “It can get quite hot

Why bread can be easy

Bread has this reputation as being a difficult part of baking. This is a stigma I want to put an end to.   Yes, to make a decent 8-plaited loaf in 2 hours in a tent is not far off impossible. It’s made more difficult when you’ve got Mr Hollywood’s blue stare burned into your

Great British Bake-Off Drinking Game

The Only OFFICIAL(ish) Great British Bake-Off Drinking Game: Full Rules Do feel free to add your own/edit… UPDATE: Lightweight version can be found here. SPECIAL GBBO FINAL RULES: Drink 1 finger for each statement of political provocation Drink 1 finger for every proud relative present Drink 2 fingers for every use of the word ‘gloopy’

Super-fast Brioche

Brioche is a bread that I adore, but can never be arsed to make – I always envisage a decent, complex brioche as requiring a separate sponge and retarded prove, meaning that it just isn’t really worth the bother. Until today, when I experimented with a few recipes, and have come up with what I

“Miller’s” Sourdough Bagels Recipe

Paul seemed to like these, but I like them too. In fact, this, I feel, is one of the very best beginner’s Sourdoughs, as the dough is comparatively very dry and easy to work with. The name, according to the Bourke St Bakery, comes from the tradition of sweeping the floors of the bakery at

Bread day!

Today is bread day on the Great British Bake Off. In celebration, therefore, bread must be baked! I am going for three varieties:   100% Wholemeal Sourdough, take three. – One of the most annoying breads I’ve ever baked and something I’ve been putting off for a while. Attempt 1 was a little stodgy in

Fast No-Knead Wholemeal Bread Recipe

Hullo all! This recipe is one that comes from total laziness – I couldn’t be arsed kneading and clearing up after, and I wanted to bake and then eat good bread. Dilemma, I know. Many would have sought the help of an electric mixer, but utilise the yeast themselves to develop that gluten and you’ll soon

Parsnip upside down cake recipe

I’m not sure I’m allowed to even post this up here, but I’m sure  it can do no harm! It’s cake! Anyway, if I just tell you the sponge is adapted from the oliver peyton carrot cake, with pears and a simple caramel. Recipe: makes one 9 inch cake.   225g unsalted butter 225g caster

How to make Homemade… Proving Baskets

I write this from Shetland, my family home and where I grew up. Down sooth, in Glasgae, I live during term time. And when coming home for the summer, there’s a few things you absolutely cannot forget: dough scraper, digital scales, an array of cookbooks and, most importantly of all, proving baskets. Unfortunately, I left my

Wessex Mill Flour – Malt(y) Loaf

Being in Shetland, in a particularly rural part of Shetland, you can’t expect the single local shop to cater for every need of the home bread baker. To my surprise, though, it stocks an odd range of flours from Wessex Mill in Oxfordshire, including “Mixed Pepper and Basil Bread Flour” and this one, “Malt Loaf Bread

Gluten-Free Brownies

Now matter how much evidence there is for a Gluten-Free diet in your case, don’t worry, these brownies are better than equivalent Gluteny ones. Their texture is perfect, just holding together, and they don’t end up all dry round the edges and sunken in the middle.   Some keen-eyed bakers may recognise certain similarities to

Super Sourdough at Home [Advanced]

This is a recipe for someone who is used to bread and sourdough baking, and would like a simple white recipe to be their staple at home. It really is as simple as a Sourdough gets, as it requires no sponge or pre ferments or slow pitching or any of that faff. It does require

Welcome!

Hullo!   This, I suppose, is my first blog post. This should be a momentous occasion (I’ve never had a blog before), but I’m ill and tired and have work tomorrow so will keep it brief. The whole big idea is to blog the progress of the Great British Bake-Off Series 3 as it airs,

Banana Bread

Semantically, it’s a bread. But in reality it’s a cake and one of the most brilliant cakes at that; eternally moist and so, so easy. Banana bread is my favourite cake and this is my favourite recipe, stolen straight from the illustrious Kember and Jones in Glasgae, who I used to proudly wash dishes for.