I have enthusiastically mentioned to some of my friends and colleagues that we were hosting THE 2021 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF FESTIVAL OF LOVE, and I thrilled that some of them have sent baking photos in, which I am very proud to feature!!
My colleague Marianne (who is one off the loveliest people on the planet) has sent me some beautiful baking photographs in from her talented family. Just to mention…there is a strong advantage in the family due to their French connection – yes, yes, we know the best bakers always have a strong French connection!
Marianne’s daughter Lily has baked this gorgeous Apple Pie!
The apples are from a tree in their garden! Oh how we love baking with home-grown produce!
But there is more from Lily!! She has also been busy with her bread making skills with this fantastic rosemary and garlic focaccia bread!!!
Thank you so much Lily for sharing your fantastic baking photographs with us!! We are so pleased to be able to feature them on WordPress! Enjoy the rest of the holidays with your family. ❤
In case you had not already noticed – ten o’clock is the official POETRY HOUR for THE 2021 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF FESTIVAL OF LOVE!!! Yes that’s right, this weekend, every ten o’clock, morning and evening (GMT) we will be bringing to you one of our special guest poets that we are honoured to be allowed to feature.
We are so proud of our talented poets on WordPress. At ten o’clock this morning, we featured the wonderful “Recipe For Love Cake” from the romantic poet who can melt hearts Gentleman Dave, the creator of The Poet’s Kiss. If you missed his poem, please do take the chance to visit his site!
Our second special guest poet is our beloved Puman, the creator of Peaansunpluggedblog. Puman has written a poem that combines romance with baking in a way that will truly quicken your pulse! We are just sharing the first two lines of her poem “Love Is A Piece Of Cake“, because we would really love you to visit her site and read the entire poem for yourself!
I hope you are enjoying the international selection of baking we have in this year’s GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF! Scotland, France, Ireland, The Philippines, Mexico, Greece have all been featured and now we have a distinctively USA inspired cake creation for you!
Another of my friends who has started her own blog and who has been baking so she can be part of this year’s BAKE OFF is Jenna Kirkpatrick, the creator of RASPBERRY RIPPLES.
I told Jenna all about The 2021 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF FESTIVAL OF LOVE and explained we were asking bloggers to bake from the heart. She chose a recipe inspired by the classic American peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as a symbol of her love story with Ben, who told Jenna he was in love with her almost three years ago, after traipsing around with her like a besotted puppy for almost two years.
Ben & Jen are going back to Chicago in November, and we will miss them terribly! So we are trying to see as much of them as possible before they leave. Two weeks ago, Ben & Jen came over to spend a day with us working, and we made time to bake together, and to turn Jenna’s strawberry and peanut butter traybake into a replica of a goldfish she won when she was a child.
You can find Jenna’s post about her goldfish and how we made her peanut butter and strawberry traybake here:
Our next baking creation comes with a deeply heart warming story. One of my favourite bloggers is Gina, the creator of Gina’s Cottage, because her posts are always interesting to me. To give you an idea of what you can expect from the variety of posts she publishes, I am going to quote a sentence from her ABOUT page:
Gluten free and vegetarian recipes, interior decorating ideas, party planning, craft ideas, renovation and recycling projects, and menu planning.
– GINA’S COTTAGE (ABOUT PAGE)
Gina created a beautiful post sharing exactly the kind of heart-warming story we were hoping for when we started out advertising THE 2021 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF FESTIVAL OF LOVE. I would love you to read her post as I know it will make you smile from ear to ear, especially the lovely painting at the end of her post.
This is her Strawberry and Rhubarb Cake, which she adapted from her grandmother’s recipe. It looks like to me the ultimate comfort food, and well yes,Gina’s post is just absolutely lovely!
I wish I knew my grandmother’s (my mum’s mum) recipe for her sherry trifle. I remember when we visited my grandparents, she would have always made two trifles, one huge one, and one smaller trifle (but still in an ample dish that could easily supply four people or more). The large trifle would be divided between most of us. But the small trifle was all for my Dad. My Dad used to rave about his mother-in-law’s trifle and she was so pleased with his praise, that she decided to reward him with a gigantic portion. My father would finish it all off during the course of the evening.
I asked Gina if she had any favourite love songs…and I loved her replies!! Thank you Gina for making THE 2021 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF FESTIVAL OF LOVE so special!
Early on in this baking enterprise there seems to have been a slight issue with measurements. But Gary does not easily give up!! It sounded as if he then emptied the entire contents of his kitchen cupboards into the mixing bowl including cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, orange peel and maple syrup under the encouragement and oversight of Hawklad.
The result? Nothing short of miraculous!! Victory!!! It looked like cake, it felt like cake, although Gary was very sparing in his description of the taste! However, I know that his baking comes from a very loving heart! That is what counts the most!
Please check out Gary’s own account of his baking adventure, undertaken at the same time as his socks were being terrorised!
Earlier today we featured a fabulous handbag creation that Robbie, the creator of Robbie’s Inspiration , had made for Mother’s Day. But we have so much more from our wonderful Robbie to share with you!
I know many of us found it incredibly tough not to see our beloved family members during strict lockdowns. Robbie published a post about the first time she was reunited with her family for a special occasion – her mother’s 82nd birthday. I can imagine how much it must have meant to the family to be together again.
Look at the record player cake Robbie made, surrounded by a cakelicious flower garden. Robbie’s mother must have been thrilled with this birthday cake! This is Robbie’s heartwarming post about their special family reunion:
We love the concepts Robbie comes up with. This record player cake is so effective, but look at some of the exquisite details on these flower decorations the pink hydrangeas and the gazania cupcakes! There is so much love that goes into these baking creations!
Now I wonder what kind of music would be playing on the record player I asked Robbie if her mother had a favourite love song…and I have to admit that I thought her reply was ideal when it comes to cutting into a birthday cake!
OK – it is time I was brave enough to exhibit one of my own baking creations for THE 2021 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF FESTIVAL OF LOVE. I am a little shy about this one because of the way it looks, but it tasted amazing, even though it made an almighty mess all over the kitchen worktop and floor! One of life’s fundamental lessons is: baking and cleaning up go hand in hand!
Jack used to live in Greece, which is why I have been attempting to make some famous Greek desserts, including baklava! I know it is far from perfect, but for a very first attempt – it’s not terrible is it!!! Please be kind!
I am going to share the recipe I started following, an soon realized did not make sense, so therefore adapted the best I could (always a bit worrying when I have to ad lib with a recipe!)
400g walnuts, chopped
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
200g unsalted butter, melted
600g filo pastry
24 cloves (optional)
150g clear honey
1 lemon, zest and juice
100g caster sugar
The syrup seemed to take a long time to make. I placed the water, honey, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a pan and heated it gently at first until it dissolved. Then I cranked up the heat and boiled it until a thick and syrupy consistency developed. Boiling sugar always makes me nervous and it took too long for my liking!! I was glad when I could turn off the heat to allow it to cool and then popping it in the fridge until it was needed.
The next bit was quick and easy. I just combined the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
(For me, it is this sweet spicy walnut mixture that is the best part of baklova. The filo pastry is a mess! And is really just a casing for the contents. Who would have thought that anything could be quite as delicious as walnuts, sugar and cinnamon!)
Then comes the slightly fiddley but essential construction stage! The butter needs to be melted by now. This recipe needs something like a toasting dish. The recipe said to use a a 30cm x 20cm baking tray at least 5cm deep.
First of all, I had to brush the deep baking tray with melted butter. Then I placed a sheet of filo onto the bottom of the tray. I brushed the filo pastry with butter, scattered a thin layer of semolina over and then laid another sheet on top.
The process of filo, butter, semolina, filo, butter, semolina is one to get used to with this dish!! The base is six layers of this triple concoction.
Then it was time for a layer of the nut mixture. I spread ¼ of the nut mixture over the base, and then then topped with three sheets of pastry, butter and semolina. Then I spread another ¼ of the nut mixture over the base, followed by three more layers of filo, butter, semolina. I repeated the process until all of the nut mixture was used up.
After the final layer of nuts, the topping required eleven layers of filo, butter and semolina. Well, the last later of filo is just buttered – no semolina this time.
Then I put the baklava inti the fridge for seven minutes (why the recipe specified “seven” I have no idea.
I followed the recipe’s instructions to divide the baklava into squares 5cm wide, and I cut half-way down. I pierced each square with a clove, which seems a clever way of keeping the filo squares together.
Then I bake for 30 minutes on 180°C, gas mark 4. Then I turned the oven down to 140°C, gas mark 1 and continued baking for 25–30 minutes until golden.
Once the baklava was cooked, I cut through the layers completely. Then I while the baklava was still hot, I poured the syrup into the cuts.
So my guinea pig Jack was very pleased with me for my effort. He said the nut layer was perfect. The fiddley filo, well, it was alright, but it didn’t seem to crisp up as much as I had hoped nor was the topping as golden as I expected. I said to Jack, that maybe I was too sparing with the semolina layers, and maybe I should have put more melted butter on the top layer.
Jack was very content with what I had made though and demolished half the tray the evening I made it.
I think I need to keep practicing!! Greek desserts are definitely the way to Jack’s heart, and I would love to remind him of his happy memories from the years he lived out in Greece. I even made sure Greece slipped into the novels I wrote – as anyone who knows about what happens to Annabelle in Book Two of The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series will know!
You know….I have to admit….there is a part of me that loves the challenge of finding songs to match bakes. Well…I found a song that mentions mangoes, well sitting under a mango tree…and it is a very lovely love song. Jack Johnson’s “Better Together” – the ultimate chill out music!
Gary and I are novices in the kitchen area – you may have noticed that – but we love to see what other bloggers produce each year. We have some phenomenally talented bakers who leave us drooling each year, and have so much technical knowledge in all things patisserie – it is a wonderful chance to learn and discover new techniques we may never have tried before.
Earlier today, we featured a beautiful bake from Julie, the co-creator of One More Bite, and we have some more very impressive baking creations from this brilliant website scheduled to show you over the weekend.
This tempting treat is Julie’s Yuzu Curd Tart, adorned with lush summer fruits. I see this is as the perfect summer indulgence!! I love the details of how the yuzu curd was prepared. Julie’s post contains another baking creation constructed with a similar technique and equally as tempting. Please do take a look at her marvellous post below:
I have been asking some of our bloggers if they have any favourite love songs, and I love that nobody chose the same song as anyone else! It’s just like the bakes – they are all individual and unique!
It just shows how exciting it is that in our international community on WordPress, we all bring our own flavours, own styles, and our own music to the festival! We learn from each other, and we enjoy each other’s creativity and the heart that everyone puts into their posts!
One of our very much loved bloggers is Sheree, the creator of View From The Back, who sent me a very exciting email with some quite breathtaking baking creations. We all know that Sheree is a brilliant baker, but on this occasion, Sheree wanted to share with us some of the remarkable works of art made by Marina, a friend of hers. That is a very loving thing to do!!
Marina also lives in France – and it seems she has picked up talent extraordinaire!!! We have some amazing photographs of Marina’s creations – and they are very impressive – but there are many more. If you are an Instagram user, then please do take a look at Marina’s other cake creations:
We asked how Marina learnt to make such extraordinary skills, and it turns out she is self-taught, with a little help from YouTube videos. I wonder whether Gary and I should try YouTube to improve our baking skills. I would end up being distracted by compiling playlists, Gary would be distracted by either Pokemon or Sponge Bob!
We also asked if Marina has a favourite love song, and she told us that she loves the acoustic guitar her son plays – and so that is the perfect reason to play and acoustic version of one of the most popular love songs of all time.
…and because we love all of the photos on your Instagram account….