Barking to baking

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baking

Cook up some peanut butter cookies for your four-legged friends!

The award-winning team behind The Big Bakes are helping dog owners across the nation turn Barking to Baking with their new free online classes as part of a mini series helping owners make simple dog treats at home.

The Big Bakes is the UK’s first and only live baking competition, where guests take part in live bake off events in fully decked out marquees in London and Birmingham. Whilst we are all isolating at home, they are hosting an array of remote tutorials across their instagram and facebook channels to get the nation baking.

Keeping us humans company during our new indoor time is hard work for our four legged friends, so to say thanks, homeowners across the country can now bake their canine companions some special treats to say thank you.

Eloise Frank, co-founder at The Big Bakes said: “My dogs Luna and Freddie have provided me unconditional love and friendship, making life in lockdown infinitely more manageable which is why it is great to be able to return the favour and spend time together baking their favourite dog treats!”

The new mini pet baking series, available now, will see recipes launched twice weekly for an array of pets in the home. The baking team will be sharing two pet treat bake-at-home classes each week across their social media channels, airing on IGTV every Monday and Friday – make sure you look out for the cuteness overload making a guest visit in the Peanut Butter Dog Cookie recipe airing today, Monday, 6th April. All recipes use day-to-day ingredients and standard kitchen equipment found in the home.

To take part in these digital sessions, all people need to do is visit @Thebig_bakes on Instagram or The Big Bakes on Facebook where they will find a list of all the necessary ingredients needed for their up-coming class. And the good news is, there are also plenty of free baking classes on the channel for us humans too. Once people have completed their home made creations, they can share a photograph with @Thebig_bakes, in order to be in the running for a prize. Each week, the team will choose the winning amateur baker, who will receive vouchers to attend a live session later in the year.

The Big Bakes is all about bringing people together through a love of baking (and eating!) so they thought why not extend this to all members of the household, including those with four legs as well as two!

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Cookies  

Ingredients:

 ⅔ cup or 85 grams fruit puree e.g. pumpkin, banana, apple  

• ¼ cup or roughly 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (Do not use peanut butter spread that contains sugar, or additives, this should be an all natural whole nut butter suitable for animal consumption e.g. Meridian or Pip and Nut as Xylitol, the sweetener most often used in peanut butter with sugar is toxic to dogs).  

• 2 large eggs  

• 3 cups or 384 grams plain flour wholemeal or rye  

Method:

Begin by preheating your oven to 180c degrees and line a large flat baking tray with baking parchment or a silicone baking mat.  

2  Take your large mixing bowl and crack in your eggs and then add the peanut butter and fruit puree. Now mix the wet ingredients until combined using an electric whisk with the paddle attachment or with a wooden spoon. Remember to give it a good mix if you are using a spoon! 

3  Once combined, gradually add your flour about a quarter at a time and fold into the wet mixture. If you are using an electric whisk then beat this slowly until just incorporated. Then repeat to add the rest of the flour quarter by quarter until the dough is no longer sticky.  

4  Now, form your dough into a ball TIP: you may need to use your hands to do this, so dust them with some flour first.  

5  Then, once your dough is bound together in a ball, dust a work surface with flour and then knead the cookie dough (use your knuckles to press firmly and turn the dough a few times) until it comes together. If you are finding the dough to be sticky just sprinkle on some more flour. 

6  Then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin.  

7  Once rolled, take your cookie cutters (you can also make these by choosing some stencil shapes online and printing and cutting these out using a piece of card) and cut out your desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet leaving a little space between each cookie.  

8  Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until they start to turn a golden brown and they are firm to touch.   

9  Once ready, leave to cool completely before treating your 4 legged friend to a delicious peanut butter treat! 

See our other recipes (for humans)

Tuck into Cornish Pasty Week

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baking

Yesterday marked the start of Real Bread Week and today it’s the turn of Cornish Pasty Week.

Ok, so we’re a long way from the West Country here but who doesn’t love a pasty, but did you know:

No meat other than beef can be used and no vegetables other than sliced or diced potato, swede (turnip), onion and salt and pepper should be used in the filling.

There must be at least 12.5% beef and 25% vegetables in the whole pasty. All the ingredients must be uncooked when the pasty is assembled and then slowly baked to develop all that famous Cornish pasty taste and succulence.

Pasties traditionally went down the mines, across fields and out to sea, so they had to be able to withstand rough treatment. Once created, the edges should be sealed by crimping – if it’s not crimped it’s not Cornish.

Most importantly it can only be called a Cornish pasty if it’s produced west of the Tamar, in Cornwall.

The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the pasty was identified in around 1300 and at that time was enjoyed by the rich upper classes and royalty.

In the 1700s it became a staple of poorer working families in Cornwall and in the 1800s came into its own as an important art of the lives of many Cornish families.

The week, which runs until 29th February, will be celebrated with a competition to find the world’s finest crimper and the world pasty championships at the Eden Project. All are welcome to join in the fun, taste one or two and have a go yourself.

The 2020 World Pasty Championships take place on Saturday, 29th February.

Have a go yourself with the ultimate pasty recipe from the Cornish Pasty Association:

FOR SHORTCRUST PASTRY

(rough puff can also be used):

• 500 g strong bread flour (it is important to use a stronger flour than normal as you need the extra strength in the gluten to produce strong pliable pastry)

• 120 g lard or white shortening

• 125 g Cornish butter

• 1 tsp salt

• 175 ml cold water

FOR THE FILLING

• 400 g good quality beef skirt, cut into cubes

• 300 g potato, peeled and diced

• 150 g swede/turnip*, peeled and diced

• 150 g onion, peeled and sliced

• Salt & pepper to taste (2:1 ratio)

• Beaten egg or milk to glaze

*The vegetable to use is the yellow-fleshed swede, not a white turnip. This is known commonly in Cornwall as the turnip. It’s also known as the yellow turnip/Swedish turnip in some places and in North America it is called rutabaga.

METHOD

Add the salt to the flour in a large mixing bowl.

Rub the two types of fat lightly into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Add water, bring the mixture together and knead until the pastry becomes elastic. This will take longer than normal pastry but it gives the pastry the strength that is needed to hold the filling and retain a good shape. This can also be done in a food mixer.

Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 3 hours in the fridge. This is a very important stage as it is almost impossible to roll and shape the pastry when fresh.

Roll out the pastry and cut into circles approx. 20cm diameter. A side plate is an ideal size to use as a guide.

Layer the vegetables and meat on top of the pastry, adding plenty of seasoning.

Bring the pastry around and crimp the edges together (see our guide to crimping).

Glaze with beaten egg or an egg and milk mixture.

Bake at 165 degrees C (fan oven) for about 50 – 55 minutes until golden.

Get involved...

To find out all you could possibly want to know about pasties and more visit

Real Bread Week

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baking

Rise up together and support Real Bread Week

Did you know this week is Real Bread Week? It’s the annual celebration of additive-free loaves and the people who make them.

#RealBreadWeek 2020: Together We Rise! Runs from today (22nd February) until 1st March and aims to help people to bake a better future, one loaf at a time.

Launched by the Real Bread Campaign in 2010 it has three main aims:

• Buy Real Bread from local, independent bakeries
• Bake their own Real Bread at home
• Join the Real Bread Campaign

Each year, bakeries, baking schools, mills, schools, care homes, youth and other community groups hold classes, feasts and other events and activities.

People bake at home, with their families, colleagues and other friends, and share photos of themselves and their loaves on social media.

The week also wants to big up little bakeries and support small, independent, locally-owned bakeries which in addition to supporting skilled jobs and keeping money circulating in the local economy, help to keep the high street alive.

They may also offer social benefits, from being a place where older people at risk of isolation can see a friendly face and stop for a chat, to those that are set up to offer training and employment opportunities for people facing one of a range of challenges.

Get involved and help the charity Sustain by making a donation of £10 or whatever you can; join the campaign; buy the mug, T-shirt, apron, recipe book or dough scorer and if you’re in the business why not collect dough-nations from customers to help too.

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Find out more about how you can get involved at

Macmillan coffee morning

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baking

Join thousands holding coffee mornings to raise funds for Macmillan on Friday, 27th September

Last year almost £27million was raised through people drinking coffee and eating cake as part of Macmillan’s Biggest Coffee Morning and this year with your help they want to top that.

The first get together was held in 1990 with the very simple idea that people would gather over a cuppa and donate the cost of their coffee to Macmillan. Such was its success it was decided to do it again the following year but to take it national – since then the coffee mornings have gone on to raise more than £200million.

Whatever you raise it all helps make a difference – just £28 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for an hour, helping those living with cancer and their families receive practical and emotional support; £112 could pay for a Macmillan social care worker for a day and £210 could fund a Macmillan nurse for a day. However much you raise, you’ll be making a difference.

And if you need some ideas for what to treat your family, friends or work colleagues to while drinking their coffee, they can help with that too. How about a piece of cherry and almond tray bake, coffee and walnut cake or try a savoury option of gruyere, bacon and leek scones?

Whatever takes your fancy, get cooking (you can even cheat and buy ready made if you like) but join in and help people have access to cancer support in their communities.

Christine Wallace: in the mix!

Round & About

baking

Hello everyone! Is it just me or is there a feelgood factor in the air recently?

In general people seem to be quite happy and smiley. Just passing someone in the street or at the shops seems to generate a “hello” and my goodness, doesn’t it make you feel good!? I put it down to summer, the weather isn’t bad and holidays are on everyone’s mind so lots to be happy about. There also might be a measure of trying to forget that we live in quite a troubled world and the news can be depressing so let’s just live for the day! Whatever it is, I hope it lasts!

July brings hedgerows heavy with berries, fennel to liven up salads and lots more including aubergines and courgettes. Cherries and peaches are at their best and the glorious gooseberry is here. The poor gooseberry doesn’t get a good press and it’s hard to find them, even in farm shops. But there are wonderful recipes using this vitamin C-rich fruit; poached gooseberries with a creamy vanilla custard, gooseberry compote which is super used in cakes or to top a cheesecake, gooseberry jam or the very delicious gooseberry fool. Take 400g gooseberries and cook with 50g sugar over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat, crush and cool. Pour two tablespoons of elderflower cordial and 1tbsp lemon juice into 400ml double cream and whisk to medium peaks. Add 4 tablespoons of ready-made custard. Fold half the gooseberries into the mixture. Spoon half into four glasses. Layer the rest of the gooseberries, then top with the rest of the cream mix. Chill until ready to serve. You’ll love it!

Also in shops is new-season lamb (the best is from Kent). Lamb breast is a great make-ahead meal – slow cooking turns a cheap cut into a luxury. Tom Kerridge’s breast of lamb with broccoli, anchovy and caper dressing is lovely!

The Greeks and Romans are returning! Stretch Didcot’s Roman Festival at the Didcot Girls School on Saturday, 7th July (10.30am-5pm) will have more than 20 different experts and events, including me! Tickets are a fantastic £4.

Visit www.christinebakes.co.uk and please get in touch!