We are incredibly excited by the parade of baking creations by some truly great bloggers that will be revealed this weekend. Who will be awarded the accolade of 2021 STAR BAKER? It is all so exciting!
We wanted to catch up with Benji, the creator of Benji’s Very Big Blog, who was awarded a 2020 STAR BAKER accolade with his perfect shortbread!
BENJI, WE ARE THRILLED TO BE ABLE TO INTERVIEW YOU. THIS YEAR THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF THEME IS LOVE, SO WE WANTED TO ASK YOU – WHO DO YOU LOVE MOST IN THE WORLD?
Many of you will know Benji’s very talented mum Ingrid, the creator of Experiments In Fiction, and of course here are Benji and his younger brother busy in the kitchen last year!
WHO TAUGHT YOU HOW TO BAKE? DO YOU HAVE ANY MEMORIES OF LEARNING TO BAKE THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY?
My Mammy taught me how to bake and every time I bake I get happymemories.
SINCE YOU WERE ANNOUNCED AS A STAR BAKER IN THE 2020 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF, HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED?
I have become an even better baker!
Benji was already a brilliant baker when he sent us a photo of his shortbread last year, meaning our special BAKE OFF judge Jeanne awarded him a STAR BAKER accolade, so we would love to see his future baking creations!
IF YOU HAD AN UNLIMITED BUDGET AND UNLIMITED TIME, IT THERE A FANTASY BAKE YOU WOULD LOVE TO MAKE?
The Burj Khalifa Victoria sponge version.
Wow!! a Victoria sponge cake the size of the tallest building in the world!! Now that would be incredible!!!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CELEBRITY BAKER?
Paul Hollywood just called in Benji, I think he wants to see if a Hollywood handshake might change your mind. Oh…the phone is ringing again – Raymond Blanc, they are all making offers now. I am going to see which of them will pay for the cost of the baking ingredients to make a Burj Khalifa Victoria Sponge, let’s see who volunteers!
IF YOU WERE GOING TO MAKE A CAKE THAT LOOKED LIKE A FAMILY PET OR YOUR FAVOURITE ANIMAL – WHAT WOULD IT BE?
IF SOMEONE SPECIAL WERE TO BAKE SOMETHING FOR YOU – WHAT WOULD YOU LOVE IT TO BE?
A Victoria sponge.
We love it – classy, delicious and heart warming!!! Exactly what we aim for in our baking!!
Thank you so much Benji for allowing us to interview. You are truly a great blogger and we loved your shortbread last year. We wish you and your family lots and lots of love!!!
Benji – you are a star!!
(ps…I have no idea who the chap in the suit at the end is!)
Last year, we held the very first GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF…and many of you will know that the talented Sheree, creator of View from the Back, was crowned STAR BAKER 2019!
What does it mean to be THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF STAR BAKER? We caught up with Sheree, now that she has become the phenomenal international celebrity baker, in between her many television and celebrity commitments!!!
We asked Sheree seven interview questions and we just loved her replies! (It’s completely up to you if you want to take anything you read with a pinch of salt 😉 )
WOULD YOU RATHER SPEND AN AFTERNOON BAKING IN YOUR KITCHEN OR OUT FOR A PICNIC WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS?
I find the former really relaxing. I’ll see a fabulous recipe, maybe in one of my hundreds of cookery books – I exaggerate NOT – or on the net and I’ll check I have all the ingredients. I’ll initially make it as per recipe and then I’ll work out how to make it dairy, refined sugar and gluten-free. It may take a number of iterations. I’ll then test-drive it at a picnic with friends, many of whom are former elite athletes who provide great, constructive feedback. Only then will I go into bulk production. Not for nothing are my brownies called “Race Winning.” (https://viewfromtheback.com/2017/03/06/the-musette-brownies/)
So you see, much of my baking, particularly during the summer months, ends up being consumed at a picnic with friends.
SINCE YOU WERE ANNOUNCED AS STAR BAKER IN THE 2019 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF, HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED?
Luckily, we have a security post at the entrance to the Domaine, but it wasn’t long before was sneaking out in the celebrities favourite disguise (baseball cap and big sunglasses) dodging the paparazzi and TV crews.
You can understand their curiosity. Just how did a British woman beat the French – and everyone else – to the #GBBO crown?
After appearing on daytime television, I’ve been inundated with offers. For example, The Food Network wanted me to cook with Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Now I love Ina, I really do – and her magnificent mansion in The Hamptons. She’s the woman we’d all love to have as our grandmother but she uses dairy like it was going out of fashion. We’re currently discussing whether I might produce vegan versions of some of her classic recipes. If I do, Geoffroy’s not going to be getting chicken on Friday evenings!
The wife of well-known French politician is begging me to make her beloved husband a cake for his December birthday. I thought I might do a selection of Parisian landmarks. Must remember to get back to Brigitte shortly with my ideas!
I’m currently basking in a bidding war for my maiden cookery book which will feature all of my favourite bakes though you’ve already seen most of them on my blog.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE RECIPE BOOK?
I don’t so much as have favourites, as books I return to time and time again.
You can easily pick these out from my massive collection. They’re the ones with grease stained covers and lots of yellow post-it notes on the recipes with my improvements.
Generally, they’re cookery books by chefs rather than cooks.
WHERE IS YOUR PERFECT LOCATION FOR A PICNIC?
We have a number of picnics in the summer down at the beach or up in the Niçois hills but, to be honest, I prefer the comfort of my terrace. It can easily accommodate 25 people and everything is so much more controllable with no chance of running out of either food or booze.
Instead of our usual pot-luck approach, I’ll have a theme. For example, Middle Eastern which will feature mezze, plenty of Ottolenghi salads, falafel kebabs, flatbreads, a selection of goats’ cheeses, mountains of fresh fruit, Turkish Delight, Baklava…..you get the picture. (JACK WOULD LOVE AN INVITE SHEREE!)
They tend to be lazy affairs, late lunches which go on until the early hours with frequent visits to the Domaine’s Olympic-sized pool to wear off a few calories.
IF YOU HAD AN UNLIMITED BUDGET AND UNLIMITED TIME IS THERE A FANTASY BAKE YOU WOULD LOVE TO MAKE?
A couple of years ago, I made the wedding (traditional fruit) cake for my niece and nephew’s wedding.
Because it had to be transported by plane from France to UK, it rather mitigated doing anything too extravagant or too elaborate. I’d definitely like to do another one without the logistical issues.
ARE THERE ANY COOKERY OR BAKING TV SHOWS THAT YOU LOVE TO WATCH?
I’m a total sucker for cookery and baking shows on the TV. I love anything with Raymond Blanc – still so French after all those years in the UK. (HE IS THE KING!)
The shows on French television are great too, though the standard tends to be much higher in the competitions and more focussed on professionals rather than amateurs, plus we’re spared those endless celebrity shows.
IF WE WERE TO ARRANGE A ROMANTIC PICNIC FOR YOU AND YOUR CHERI – WHAT WOULD YOU LOVE US TO INCLUDE IN THE PICNIC BASKET?
My chéri eats pretty much anything. (SO DOES MINE SHEREE…IT’S QUITE STAGGERING TO WATCH!)
He loves crowd-pleasing picnic food such as my home-made marinated olives, savoury cake, buttermilk fried chicken, potato tortilla, scotch eggs, with a selection of salads (potato, coleslaw, tomato), crusty French bread, a ripe brie or Camembert, fresh fruit and an indulgent dessert…….maybe an Eton mess. This should be washed down with beer, water and a chilled rosé.
THANK YOU SO MUCH SHEREE FOR MAKING TIME TO ANSWER OUR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND FOR ALL THE SUPERB FOODIE AND BAKING POSTS YOU DELIGHT WORDPRESS WITH! WHAT AN AMAZING STAR BAKER!!!
SO THE QUESTION REMAINS:
WHO WILL BE THE 2020 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF STAR BAKER?
Oh…it’s so exciting to see the BAKING and PICNIC creations we have received these past few weeks from WordPress bloggers!
In the meantime…I think I will take a note out of Sheree’s book – not much beats chilled rosé on a hot summer’s day
Did somebody say rose?…Or was that “la vie en rose”??? Did we need an excuse to bring the flavour of France to THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020 SUMMER PICNIC? I think not!!!