2015 seems to have been the year of GBBO blogging for me! I met John, Louis, Brendan and Beca at The Cake and Bake Show, went for dinner with Flora, baked Christmas goodies with Edd and then last Sunday spent the day baking free-from cakes with Ugne! I’ve not ventured much into the world of gluten free, dairy free and egg free baking (other than the amazing spelt flour focaccia I made last year – which was also a recipe taken from GBBO!) so I was mega excited when Holland and Barrett invited me to join them for the occasion. Ugne was famous on The Great British Bake Off for experimenting with free-from recipes so who better to introduce me to some super easy and really tasty baking?
Rather excitingly the event was held at the Cactus Kitchens in Clapham, home to the Michael Roux Jr cookery school and Saturday Kitchen studios! So of course we all had a good nose around the set and posed behind the benches. We got very excited to see the Omelette Challenge Board which was really cool (though Queen Mez Bez is actually sitting rather near the bottom of the league!) After lots of hellos and cups of teas we went upstairs to the Michael Roux Jr cooking studio where named work stations were all laid out for us ready to get our bake on with the recipe for Apple, Pear and Cranberry Cake. Ugne wished us luck and with and a ready, set, BAKE we were off!
Conscious of the fact we only had one hour I didn’t really stop to take many photos, just concentrated on getting through the recipe in time! My boyfriend always jokes that I am a good baker but take absolutely forever to do anything so I was very nervous of falling behind! I seemed to do all right though and my cake went in the oven about the same time as everyone else’s. Phew! I only had a couple of minor disasters, including nearly losing a finger whilst trying to peel an apple, finding all my mixture turned into a ball rather than lovely light fluid batter in the processor, and finding I still had half of it left over once the cake tin was filled! Ever resourceful (read: greedy) I decided to make little muffins with the left overs too.
Whilst our cakes were all in the oven we gathered round to watch Ugne bake her own Apricot, Chestnut and Coffee Cake recipe – which she made look so easy, and was designed to be very simple and quick to make. Ugne told us passionately about her love of baking and particularly for using free-from recipes as she says they are much healthier and natural for you (though apparently this doesn’t mean you can eat twice as much ;P) Ugne has many amazing “not so naughty” free-from recipes on her website which you can find here.
Once Ugne’s cake was in the oven, and ours were taken out we all went back downstairs for a beautiful lunch which again was totally gluten free. It really did feel like Christmas with a feast of ham, vegetarian cheese, quinoa, avocado and butter been salad and gluten free bread. YUM!
A quick dash upstairs to finish decorating our cakes (I went for drizzled over dairy-free chocolate melted with coconut oil, and some chopped pecans and cranberries) we plated them up and then took them up to the bench for Ugne to blind taste test. Mine was first in line and Ugne said that although it was slightly underbaked it was very tasty, so I was pretty happy with that! It was so cool to see how we each had the same brief and recipe but how differently the cakes had come out and how inventively everyone had decorated them. B was crowned the winner and was awarded with an adorable star baker rolling pin and it was time to tuck in and have a try of everyone’s bakes. Delicious!
Ugne’s cake was out the oven by now and I watched in awe as she effortlessly made it look like an absolute masterpiece with orange and sugar glaze, flaked almond and chopped apricots and chestnut. Whilst it looked too good to eat, we soon devoured it with cups of tea and lots of lovely food blogger chat.
Do you do much free-from baking?
I live in Brixton in London. I eat out far too much, am always planning my next trip and have a borderline unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.