Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Brainwashed by an Albatross

Not an expected title but as I sit here in Alicante writing a blog post I have been listening to a song that seems to be on repeat on every Spanish radio station right now it is called "I'm an Albatraoz" by AronChupa. I think I have listened to it myself this morning alone about 6-7 times, it is one serious earworm. Make no mistake it's nothing special but it is a very catchy pop song. I am very weird with music,  I have been saying since secondary school when my mates in school would ask about what music I like "ooooh I don't have a music taste, my taste is eclectic" <------ pretentious knob. It is the truth though I could listen to pretty much anything, some music I listen to is embarrassing hence why I had to turn off the link between Spotify to Facebook, I want to keep my guilty pleasures to myself. I associate music with memories, I can go from listening to Led Zeppelin which transports me instantly to my childhood trying to record from my dad's vinyl player to cassette deck so I could listen to "Whole Lotta Love" on my Sony Walkman. I love Julio Iglesias & Demis Roussos because of my mum, she would clean the kitchen on Saturdays and always have one of these guys playing on vinyl.I switch on Guns N Roses "Use Your Illusion II",  I remember it being my first musical present my mum bought me. It was for my first visit to the dentist, strange I know especially as there are some choice lyrics on that album, it was 1992 and I was only 8!

I don't care who knows this next bit but I think around 1996 I got my first cd player, it was an ALBA mini centre, it was THE FUTURE! or at least for a couple of years it was. I had a few Oasis singles to start with but soon after my birthday my dad was over in Holland visiting my grandmother and he brought me back a present. It was the Spice Girls debut album SPICE, I bloody loved that album it was full of catchy pop songs and I am a sucker for them. There was a lot of strange purchases in that year, I would save up my pocket money and buy singles on cd or cassette. Oasis, Blur, the Spice Girls, Robbie Williams (his debut with Freedom), and chuck in some Bon Jovi. My music taste was all over the shop, oh and I cannot forget a bit of SCOOTER thrown in there for good measure. The next few years I was amassing a collection of classics and junk but I was hooked. In 1999 I remember the first time I had my first alcoholic drink, I think I was 15 in my friend Emma's house. Her parents were on holiday, and she invited me over with two of her other friends (girls), all I remember is "Baby one more time" by Britney Spears being played alot! oh and drinking Buckfast, lots of Buckfast. 

I remember the next bit vividly, it was April 2001 just before I graduated from secondary school. My mate gave me a lend of his Dr. Dre's 2001. It had the usual "Parental Advisory Explicit Content" on the front but I gave it little attention. I didn't know what to expect as I had never listened to Rap in my life prior to this. So it is a evening after school, and I put on the CD, I was hooked on these slick beats (haha I sounds so tragically un hip saying that ) but I was also hooked on the swearing, my 16 year old mind was blown. If my mind was blown, well my mum's wasn't especially when track 3 came on by Devin the Dude, go listen to it is why that album has an explicit label. My mum took the CD out and took it off me, she proceeded to confiscate my CD player. I didn't hear that album again until my graduation day 2 months later, where I drank a lot of beer in my mates house and listened to track 3 on repeat until the wee hours. I also learned that I was gonna need to buy a pair of headphones so I could listen to what I want with out bothering my parents with extremely explicit lyrics.

I remember when my brother first found rap music around 2004/2005. We used to always play FIFA on the playstation and he would stick on some songs he thought was cool, bear in my mind he is 4 years younger than me. We bonded listening to Notorious BIG. We know all the lyrics to Biggie's raps. There are days even now when we are in the car together and Juicy comes on, it goes on full blast and we go back to those days in our parents house playing FIFA. Music is all about memories and I would not change one of them as embarrassing as some of them may be. In a few years when my niece Ava is over in my house and I stick on some Rap music I hope Steve appreciates the history lesson Ava will be getting. Speaking of Ava she is doing well this week, a few ups and downs, she is starting to put on some weight which is fantastic. I picked her up some very cute presents in El Corte Ingles yesterday, which will be nice to see on her in a few months. I never thought I'd actually enjoy wandering around looking at baby clothes before. Keep those candles lit for her, she needs to know the lyrics to Juicy off by heart by the time she is 15. 

At the moment Joanne and myself are in Alicante getting some much needed rest from these past few hectic months. I love it here especially because of the food,  I wish I could say I was happy about myself putting some weight on like Ava but may aswell enjoy the food while I am here.

Here are some pics of my favourite dishes I have had so far.


Cafe Cortado : I have one of these every day, it is an espresso with a dash of hot milk.


Pan Con Tomate: I have this with my cafe cortado, simply toasted baguette with crushed tomato and olive oil.


Chorizo in Cider: incredible especially with bread for dippage.



Fresh mussels in white wine, a delicious classic.


Yummy Calamares (squid) with aioli.




















Pintxo Moruno : spiced pork kebabs, so tasty.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, I am slower with blog posts, but I am doing this so I can look back on this in a few years and it also  takes my mind off things going on in real life.

Will

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28th 2015 - Life

Good day (not in the Australian G'day sense bah you know what I mean),

I hope you are the best you can be right now. I have flipped around this idea in my brain for months maybe even longer than that, finally moving my fingers back and forth across a keyboard attempting to write a blog entry. Let me start in the year of 13'. An amazing year! it brought me many great memories, memories of family and friends gathering for something I applied a talent of mine to in the form baking on the telly (I still cannot fathom it even happened). The greatest thing that happened this year I opened up as person, I changed... I found a voice inside me telling me I can do things,  I could speak in public and not be afraid of messing up (ok I did mess up a bit in the beginning of teaching it was nerve wracking). I taught some lovely folk how to bake a bit of bread.... it was hectic, draining but incredibly rewarding seeing people produce bread from my instructions. We had our ups... our downs.... bread turned out amazing (up) but on occasion I forgot to line tins, cue bread got stuck inside (down). People I have learned are very forgiving when you have downs, it showed I was no different to them in their kitchens. Most importantly however people listened to me and asked me questions I could answer on how to bake which was amazing as I felt like saying "ah here I only know this from learning from my dad, mum and watching food tv shows I am no Mary Berry". 

2014 was a continuation of 2013 I taught, taught and taught some more in my free time and blogged when I could. In May 2014, the 29th to be precise I reached a pinnacle of what my life was snowballing toward, that day I married my best friend Joanne. I thought that day would have never happen, especially if you had asked me 5/6 years previous to that. It was the most incredible day it was like getting to the top of the mountain and thinking where to next, but for me I had reached the top and I cannot fly. My biggest life goal was reached and I dedicated my next few months in to being as a good a husband I can be (that sounds lovey-dovey but I just wanted to hang out and enjoy being married with my wife). Even though I kept teaching here and there my interest was starting to wain slightly, not because I did not want to do it, I love the teaching part but my interest was starting to wain in baking, cooking and blogging. For nearly 2 years I had been baking and churning out blog posts just to get views, I felt like I was just going through the motions with a few freebies thrown in a long the way from certain supermarkets. Posting on Facebook, tweeting, instagramming flooding social media with some sort of recipe just for the sake of it.  I was however beginning to close a chapter on an amazing part of my life, it was like placing it all in a photo album that can I look back when I am 75 ( or older of course, I dunno why I said 75, seems like a nice round number ) if I am here still here.

2015 did not go so well is something I feel I might be saying on the 1st of January 2016. Starting off it was ok as any January could go and all the way up to day 14 was plain sailing. Day 15 however there was a thunderbolt of doom, I had what could be called a mini stroke or TIA (Trans Ischaemic Attack). My balance went off kilter, wobbly if you will, I felt like I was going to topple over. I paid my gp a visit and for the next week I was tested inside out by the Neurology team in Beaumont (for future reference they have the best Neurology team). After 7 days I was released, given medication and told to rest. My diagnosis upon leaving was something called sticky blood (your blood over clots ... not good) and the possibility of another auto immune related disease. After being in hospital I thought I would be right as rain in no time but I had become incredibly slowed up, walking any great distance was leaving me shattered. It took the best part of 4/5 weeks before I was nearly back to normal. Up till mid March when my first out patient appointment was due  I had myself worried and stressed as to what I may have so much so Joanne bought me jigsaws to take my mind off the worry, it worked buy one they are incredibly therapeutic. The outpatient date arrived, it was a relief they had found nothing serious ( I dreaded being told I would have MS or Lupus) and I have been since referred to rheumatology for further analysis. 

My stress and worry had calmed down, however out of the blue another life event hit me like a freight train. In my 30 years I had lost my grandfather in Holland (my father's father) a man I did not know so well and I felt more upset for my dad. On Easter Monday my mum's dad passed away. The man was the nicest, caring, and talented man you could wish to meet. He was woven in to every part of my life and now he was gone. My earliest memory I have is going to his work shop in primary school(he was the school caretaker) before class when I was in junior infants. I was always scared and crying when my mum left me in the morning so he would bring me to the workshop before class sitting me down to talk about football. I am sure I have cried plenty of times as an adult but burying this man brought me back to those days as a 4 year old crying, my mum leaving me in the cloakroom waiting for class to start, I cried this day too. I had lost not only my grandfather but I had lost a friend.

Following death there is life, 9 days ago my brother's fiancee gave birth to the most amazing little girl named Ava and I became an uncle for the first time. Ava however is very premature born at only 23 weeks old but she is an incredible fighting little girl blossoming each day. Seeing my brother and his fiancee hold this miracle make me so proud of them both. If you pray please pray for her, if you light candles for her even if they are yankee candles light them, if you have positivity send it their way. She has a long journey but she will get there especially with the excellent NICU unit at Holles St.

There are days you think to yourself you wish you were 8 years old and all you had to worry about was homework. I am sure there are people out there with far more troubles in their lives but for me these past few months have marked a transition from youth in to adulthood. This entry for me is more about release and expressing where my head lies. If it can help me releasing the depression of these past few months I would rather do this than bottling it up inside.

I apologise for this departure from all things food.

Will

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kerststol or Stollen - The Cook's Belly Returns


It has been quite a while since I blogged a recipe on The Cook’s Belly so I hope I still remember how to do this. First things first hello there my neglected readers l have been too quiet for far too long.

I have been doing some teaching, which you will know about if you stay in touch with my Facebook page and I also got married to my best friend Joanne in May in Clonabreany House; so these past 10 months have been a little crazy. Although with the Winter months looming and me having some time back on my hands in the evening I finally have a chance to blog again. It also just so happened last week Lidl got in touch with me and asked would I like to try out their new baking products for Christmas. Naturally I said yes please and thought this is great as I knew this would whoop me in to baking and blogging again. Below are some of the products they sent me on, quite an array of ingredients to test and try out for the Christmas period which is after all only 79 days away. 


Myself and Joanne headed to Limerick this weekend so all my baking would be using my parent’s temperamental oven, it has a mind of its own however what follows turned out well. On the train down Friday evening with my test ingredients packed, I had a brain wave Lidl = Germany and what more suits the ingredients I received than the German Christmas bread loaf called Stollen. I love Stollen, I remember when Lidl first came to Limerick my dad would always buy Stollen at Christmas time as 1) it reminded him of home as the Dutch love Stollen and 2) it had our favourite ingredient ( note Karen my sister in law over @LovelyGirlieBits despises the stuff) MARZIPAN. 

I now needed a recipe so I searched my usual online resources and bingo! I landed on my favourite Dutch baking blog by Ramona at www.dutchiebaking.com. Ramona’s blog is one of my favourites and she always has the nicest of recipes. So rather than your usual Stollen Ramona has a fantastic recipe which I would like to share with you below adapted from the great Dutch baker Cees Holtkamp’s repertoire (Cees is my Dutch baking hero check out my blog here). It is the Dutch version of Stollen,  called Kerststol. I hope you love this recipe as much as my whole family did. 


Ingredients

Filling:

300g raisins
100g ground almonds
100g glace cherries
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of white pepper 
1 vanilla pod
25g orange juice

Dough:

8g instant yeast or 25g fresh yeast
100g cold (full-fat) milk
250g strong white flour
8g caster sugar
½ egg
5g lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
50g softened butter
6g salt


150g almond paste
1 pack of Lidl's KuchenGlasur icing
1 vanilla pod


Method



1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl. Cover bowl and leave to rest for 1 hour.

































2. Dissolve the yeast in the milk.



3. For the dough, combine flour, milk, yeast, sugar, egg, salt and lemon zest and knead for 5 mins. Add the soft butter and knead for another 5 minutes.



































4. Leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Knead the filling into the dough. Leave dough to rest for another 10 minutes in a warm spot. Shape the dough into an oval shape, then rest another 10 minutes. 





5. Roll dough out slightly, keeping the oval shape. Create a "furrow" for the almond paste by pressing a slim rolling pin into along the length of the middle of the oval shape. Roll your almond paste into a string to fit into the "furrow". 



































6. Place the almond paste into the "furrow" and lightly roll one side of the dough over the other. Place stollen on a baking tray, greased or lined with baking parchment, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes in a warm spot. In the meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180C/350F. 








7. Bake the stollen in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes. Once baked, remove the raisins that are too badly burnt for consumption (it happens) Leave to cool.  Glaze with kuchenglasur.




Thank you so much to Ramona for her fantastic recipe, it made yesterday feel like Christmas day. Also thank you to Lidl for providing some great products to test, I highly recommend Lidl as their baking ingredients are fantastic and so much more cheaper than the bigger supermarket chains.

Finally thank you for reading my blog, and I am sorry for my absence for so long. If you want to learn to bake bread with me you can do so in the following places :

The Cooks Academy, Dublin : Bread Baking on the 3rd & 24th November.

Robyn's Nest, Swords: Baking the 18th of October.


Will

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Scones




I absolutely love scones, I always have loved them ever since a child when my mum would make them as a treat, they would always be gorgeous warmed with some butter. As kids it was rare to have jam in our house  ( if it was there my dad would gobble it up, the man has always loved a sneaky sandwich before bed) and jam makes it all the sweeter. Plus another reason we wouldn't get jam is because I would request it for my school sandwiches, but after day or so I would get tired of jam sandwiches and my parents would find em at the bottom of my bag so that would put an end to jam)so I still find it weird putting jam on my scones.


Ingredients

450g self-raising flour
50g caster sugar
1 pinch of baking powder
1 pinch of salt
110g butter
1 large egg
125ml of double cream
125ml of milk 
1 large egg for glaze 


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl or blitz in a food processor.
  3. With a knife, gently blend in the butter firstly, then finish by blending with your fingertips until the mixture resembles dry bread crumbs.
  4. Add the egg, creamand enough milk to moisten.
  5. Mix well until it has a soft, doughy texture, but it should not be too moist.
  6. Form dough into a ball and turn out onto a floured surface.
  7. Roll lightly with a rolling pin until it is 1inch [2.5 cm] thick.
  8. Cut out with a round cutter and transfer to a greased baking sheet.
  9. Brush the tops with beaten egg glaze.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes until well browned.


Enjoy with some butter whilst still warm.


Will


Monday, July 14, 2014

The Baby Food Challenge DUN DUN DUNNNN




Taking a break from Can Bake Wont Bake we decided to do the Baby Food Challenge. Its quite a popular YouTube challenge so we gave it a go. It did not go well as you can see the food blooming horrible.  Hope you enjoy please let me know what you think.

Thanks for watching,

Will

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Can Bake Won't Bake - 6 Strand Plait




Good morning Blogging pals,

Today marks a new day in my blog, as I present to you our first video. I say "our" as in me and my brother Steve. Steve you see cannot bake and will openly admit cannot cook (apart from Spag Bol, Satay, and Banana Bread). This is a new series of videos that will be appearing on the blog and YouTube of me teaching Steve how to bake. I have to say personally filming the video was hilarious, what you see in it is what you get and is as candid as it could possibly be. It is filmed by now wife Joanne and we use a small Canon Ixus, Joanne does a great job but don't expect Donal Skehan-esque quality. This is all about having fun, learning how to bake and me getting to have the craic with my bro. I do hope you enjoy, and make sure to let us know what you liked, didn't like, how we can make it better and or recipes you would like to see us make.

Please enjoy are caper of baking, and make sure you stay to the very end of the video.

Thanks for watching and reading, and for the first time thanks from 

Will & Steve 



Recipe 

Ingredients: 

500g of strong flour
14g dried yeast
320ml of warm milk
1 egg beaten
75g of butter melted
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk for glaze
Fresh milled black pepper

Method:


  1. Pre heat oven to 180c/160c fan/350F/gas mark 4.
  2. Heat the milk in a microwave for 1 minute or till lukewarm in pan. 
  3. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  4. Sieve the flour into a bowl and place pinch of salt in the opposite side of the bowl. Add in the
  5. yeast but keep away from the salt.
  6. Make a well in the flour and add the milk, give a quick stir then add your whisked egg.
  7. Combine the ingredients and finally add butter.
  8. Bring together to form a dough ball, it will be quiet sticky; this is how it should be.
  9. Place on very lightly floured counter top, literally a sprinkle.
  10. Knead the dough for 8 minutes.
  11. Place the dough back in a large bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Proof for 45 minutes.
  12. Remove from bowl and knock back.
  13. Shape in to a plait roll. To do this divide the dough up in to 6 same weighing balls. Then roll in to long strands approx 30cm in length. Place side by side tapering at the top. All you need to do then is like the video work always from the right side 2 over 1 under 2 over, until completely plaited. Proof for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  14. Brush with egg yolk to glaze. Bake for 30-35 mins or till golden brown at 180c/160c fan/350F/gas mark 4.

Steve even went and made the bread again last night on his own, he nailed it!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Margherita Pizza

  

What can I say I love pizza its my favorite take away meal, I can eat copious amounts of it. So much so having returned from Sicily last weekend you would think I would have eaten enough, no chance of that. However though up until recently I had never really made it before, well not at least as good as the recipe that follows, I generally make a big sloppy mess. I stumbled upon Gennaro Contaldo's recipe for pizza dough recently and it is perfect, it makes wonderfully crisp base.

Ingredients ( adapted from Gennaro Contaldo )

500g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast
4 heaped tablespoons of a good tomato sauce I use this one.
Extra virgin olive oil
120g Parmesan cheese
200g Buffalo mozzarella
extra virgin olive oil

Method: 
  • Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl.
  • Add the yeast to 325ml lukewarm water and stir to dissolve, then gradually add to the flour, mixing well until you get a rough dough. Shape the dough into a ball, then cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 5 minutes. 



  • On a flour-dusted surface, knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Split the dough into four equal-sized balls, knead each piece for a couple of minutes, then roll into balls and place on a clean semolina-dusted tray (if you don't have semolina, it’s fine to use breadcrumbs too). 



  • Dust with a little more flour, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for around 2 hours, or until doubled in size. 
  • On a flour-dusted surface, use your hands to stretch a ball of dough into a circle, roughly 35cm to 40cm in diameter – try get the dough to the thickness of a pancake, leaving the border slightly thicker. 





  • Repeat with the remaining dough, then sprinkle two large baking trays with the semolina and place the pizza bases on top. 
  • Evenly spread the tomato sauce over each base – you don’t want to use too much as the pizza bases will get soggy. Drizzle with olive oil, grate over the Parmesan and tear the mozzarella on top. 
  • Place the pizza in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes a top a pizza stone ( they are fantastic for making pizza bases crisp, I bought mine in Allens in Limerick for only 15 euro), depending on how crispy you like them, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and eat straight away.
I also have to say before I end this post I got a fantastic deal last week. I have been looking for some versatile knives for months just for every day kitchen work. So I picked them up on Viking Direct, they seem to stock everything nowadays. I ordered the knives below on a Tuesday and had them by Friday just in time to bring em home to Limerick me for the weekend, fantastic service.



Finally use your fancy new knives and get that pizza all sliced up for family and friends to enjoy! Note my bro wearing his Dutch jersey, YES we are in to the 2nd round of the World Cup. Roll on Sunday evening we are having a big World Cup party and pizza will defo be on the menu. 


Thanks alot for reading, I know I have been off the grid for a while but now our wedding is over I can finally come back and focusing on the blog. I have a few exciting projects on the horizon none more than this, I am going to start vlogging in a segment called Cant Bake Wont Bake with Steve my brother. My god I can't wait, stay tuned as it should be live this time next week. Joanne even wanted to buy him this apron haha.



Thanks again,

Will

Ooooooh PS: here is a pic of the wedding day :) which was absolutely awesome, Joanne was stunning so proud she is my wife.







Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Baking , Teaching, Weight Watchers and a Wedding


I always knew after Christmas it was going to be hard for me to keep the blog up to date as I used to during the bake off as I had and still have so many irons in the fire that have me distracted(that's not meant as woooo look at me I am so busy with stuff other than my blog as you will learn below).

I digress, firstly I knew once the New Year celebrations were over it was down to the brass tacks of losing a fairly sizable chunk of weight I had accumulated over the past year to year and half. Kicking off a week late on the 6th of January I had what looked like a mammoth task ahead of me, I weighed in at 19st 1.8lbs the heaviest I have been in 5 years. It was a result of every cake and sweet that crossed my lips in the build up to the Great Irish Bake Off and then the post bake off cake scoffing at every kind of event, not to mention what had become a regular "Let's go to the chipper tonight will we"? 1 or 2 nights a week. It had become a snowball effect and it was time to whip out the old trusty Weight Watchers handbook and get back in the saddle for the 29th of May when myself and Joanne get married. It's been nearly 2 months since I last updated you lovely folk on how this Weight Watchers malarky has been going but I am happy to report despite the first two or three weeks of sugar withdrawal, I am becoming a lean mean fat fighting machine. I have lost 33 pounds already which sees me weigh in at 16st 10.8lbs which is well on track, only roughly another 10 or so pounds to go and I am at a happy weight. There is no better feeling in the world than losing weight and fitting back in to clothes that haven't fit for so long.

Putting the diet to one side for a minute, this year has started something quite amazing for me, because I have been teaching baking since the 1st of February and its one of the best things I have ever done. I started  in Kitchen Complements with a 4 week bread course with those lovely people in the title picture above. For the 4 weeks we had great fun making all manner of breads from soda to sourdough. With 12 people to a class and 3 recipes each we knocked out an amazing 144 bakes over the 4 week period. It also was a hectic 4 weeks, teaching also involves buying all the ingredients, having them all weighed out (of course with the help of Joanne) before each class, testing recipes and setting up before every class, but not once did I say to myself this is rubbish and not worth it. It was  such a great way for me to get my feet wet when it comes down to actual teaching, something I have only really done in my day job teaching colleagues how to use a system I manage. I have spoken before in the past on this blog that the bake off gave me a great courage and the ability to speak to large crowds, well teaching is only improving me more and more with each class I deliver. I have always hated the spotlight and people looking at me, I remember as a child my mum informing me and my brother of a Sunday "We are bringing up the gifts in mass today" and all I could think of is oh crap people will be staring at me waiting to mess up. That continued throughout my teens and even in to college, I was impossible when it came to delivering presentations, so much so I would have to have the entire thing rehearsed, memorizing a script off in my head as to what I would say. However I am pleased to report in 2014, the year I hit 30 years on this planet, that I finally can talk to large crowds, improvise or ad-lib on what I say and actually sound like I know what I am talking about with out having any fear of failure. 

Once my classes had come to an end in Kitchen Complements I had another two baking classes on the
horizon, the first one being Robyn's Nest up in Swords and the second being in Recipe4Success down home in Annacotty, Limerick. Robyn's Nest was an achievement for the simple fact this was going to be the first time I would be teaching people how to make Macaron. Nearly 1 year ago I was down in Limerick tearing my hair out trying to make the little blighters, but I have since practised, practised and practised some more ,finally getting them bang on the money. It was an absolute joy to teach in the Nest with Linda and Emma (the owners) who were my assistants on the night. We had great craic and produced some fantastic macaron. It goes to show when you know how to do something right anybody can do it. The Nest from a teaching point of view was ace because the ladies had everything ready to go and weighed out for me, which was brilliant as I was coming straight from my day job in William Fry. The setup they have is amazing, and an absolute credit to their hard work, if I was to recommend a cookery school especially in Dublin I would be sending you here. They have so many diverse classes, from cakes to Indian nights. They really make you feel at home and I cannot wait to be back.. which I will tell you about later on in this post hehe.

Finally this weekend past I was down home teaching in Recipe 4 Success in Annacotty, Limerick. Like
Robyn's Nest everything was setup when I arrived by Shane and Nicola, it was such a relief! I was teaching for the whole day, first off 9.30am - 12.30pm teaching French patisserie. Of course macaron were on the menu, aswell as my favourite Friands, and finally choux pastry. Like macaron this time last year I was practising choux pastry for the bake off and could not get it right whatsoever, until strangely when I had to get it right on my live audition day for the bake off making sweet and savory choux buns. Since then they are one of my most favourite things to make and it was great to be demonstrating them to some eager students. We had an excellent session bolstered by how good a setup up Shane and Nicola have. If you are not in Dublin I would be sending you here to learn how to cook! For the morning session I had the help of Nicola and Sarah who were with me every step of the way as we moved through the recipes. Then in the afternoon from 2pm - 5pm I was teaching my favourite thing to do in the kitchen and that is teach bread making. We made 3 different breads, Bolus (they follow me everywhere), No Knead Loaf and Pesto Tear & Share bread. It was another 3 hours of fun with the aid of Sarah and Shane this time round. During the proofing periods I also demonstrated some breads, making one huge batch of my dough using the "on the bench" method without using a bowl. I made a 6 strand plait, a blackcurrant jam braid and some nice fresh bread rolls. It was a thoroughly good day, even one of the students Edel brought a box especially in with her for all the bread she took home.


So 2014 has been going pretty well so far and as a result of my classes I have managed to secure another course in Kitchen Complements, where I am teaching my 2nd bread skills session  with all new breads which you can check out below:
http://www.kitchencomplements.ie/kc/main/Product.asp?ProductID=3789.

I am also hoping to sort out some mid week classes down in Recipe4Success so hopefully I will be able to report back soon on a class coming up in the next few months. Finally I am close to agreeing a regular slot with Robyn's Nest so those dates too will be up soon on here and their website. Most excitingly though Robyn's Nest has kindly offered me the use of the cookery school to make my wedding cake, which I can't wait to get started in to, I even bought the tins yesterday ! It's going to be 5 tiers and all I can tell you is it will be 5 different flavours and no fruit layer. 



Finally and I mean the last thing, I am going to leave you on a little bit of a cliffhanger, but there are two things coming up on my horizon, the 1st you will hear about on the 22nd of March and the other soon after........everyone loves a cliffhanger right? 


Happy Baking !

Will 


PS: Check out 

Robyn's Nest here : http://www.cookerycourses.ie/

Recipe4Success here : http://www.recipe4success.ie/

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Iced Choux Buns


There is nothing I love more than Choux, its my favourite of all pastries to work with and last week I made some iced choux buns for a going away party in work. I think everyone in work liked them aswell as the girls in Joanne's office so whilst I am looking after what I eat, I think I am finally able to make desserts for others now without tasting what I have just made. Trust me it takes alot of my will power and determination not to eat them.

Iced Choux with white chocolate ganache filling

Ingredients

Choux Pastry

¼ litre water
Pinch of salt & sugar
100g butter
125g strong flour (Orange label Odlums)
4 eggs

White choc Filling

400g of crème fraiche
360g of white chocolate

Chocolate Glaze

200g white fondant 
1–2 tsp water

Method

Choux Pastry

1) Bring the water, sugar and butter to the boil in a saucepan. Remove the heat.
2) Add the sieved flour and mix with a wooden spoon.
3) Return to the heat and stir continuously until the mixture comes away from the side of the pan.
4) Remove from the heat allow to cool for about 4-5mins. Pre heat the oven to 220c/200c Fan.
5) Gradually at the beaten eggs, mixing well. The mixture should be a dropping consistency.
6) Pipe into small rounds on a greased baking tray. If there is a peak on the choux buns, lightly dab with cold water, tapping down the peak.
7) Bake for 30 mins. Remove and allow to cool.

White Choc Ganache

1. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water.
2. Once melted remove from the heat , add the crème fraiche and bring together into a ganache.
3. Allow to set for at least 2 hours.

Poke a small hole in the botton of each choux bun and pipe in the ganache.

Glaze

In a wide saucepan over a low heat, gently warm the fondant to make it easier to work with. Stir in water until evenly combined. One at a time, dip the top of each choux into the mixture to glaze. Place on a board or rack and allow to set in the fridge before serving.



Friday, January 17, 2014

My baking classes are coming to you! *Updated with Robyn's Nest Classes*


A question I get asked alot is since the bake off ended is "what am I doing with myself?" well let me tell you here so you can keep up to date with my whereabouts :) Back in November I had a lovely Sunday afternoon chat with Ann Mc Namee of Kitchen Complements on South Anne Street, Dublin 2. Ann asked me would I happen to be interested in teaching some classes in her lovely shop, naturally I said yes because Kitchen Complements is my favourite shop to go in Dublin, and needless to say I was extremely honored to be asked. A few days later Ann asked would I like to take the reigns for some classes she had available. Naturally I jumped at the chance, I ended up teaching two very cool classes, the first one being choux pastry and meringue, the second being gingerbread houses. Both were a great opportunity for me to wet my feet in the baking teaching world. Along came another chat with Ann and Margaret, they wanted me to come up with a 4 week bread course, god I felt this is fantastic stuff so I set about devising a course that will run in February 2014. Here is the structure of what I came up with :

Bread course outline :

Week 1 - Easy Breads - Soda & Dried Yeast - 1st Feb

Basil & Black Olive Soda Bread
Irish Cheese Soda Bread
No Knead Yeast Bread
Zeeuwse Bolus - A Dutch breakfast bun

Week 2 - Fresh Yeast - 8th Feb

Dinner Rolls
Plaits - Challah
Braids
Knots

Week 3 - Sweet Breads - 15th Feb

"Koffiebroodjes" - Dutch coffee rolls
Salted Caramel Doughnuts
Pretzels

Week 4- Sourdough - 22nd Feb

Starting and maintaining your own sourdough starter.
Sourdough Vermont loaf
Sourdough cinnamon swirls with walnut filling and orange icing.

Learn how to knead, prove and bake breads from soda to sourdough. Begin the course with the Easy breads using soda and dried yeast, then fresh yeast, sweet  and sourdough breads on the following weeks  All the essentials here!  On completion of the course, we hope you'll never want to buy or eat sliced bread again, or be tempted to spend money on other people's specialty bread either! So get online or head in store to book it will be great fun.





Ok up next this one is for the lovely people of Munster. Just before Christmas a new girl joined us in work who happened to be working in Limerick for the past few years. She said one of her best Christmas parties was a trip to a cookery school out in Annacotty Limerick by the name of Recipe4Success. I checked out their site and gave them a call asking would they be interested in me popping out over Christmas to discuss doing some classes with them. Well on Christmas Eve I got to meet Shane & Nicola, two of the nicest people. Their setup is absolutely fantastic, such a great space and excellent variety of classes. So having spoke about what I could teach we agreed I would run two classes on the 8th of March the first being Macaron, Madeleines and Gateau Paris Brest. The second class would be bread in the afternoon. Both classes are hands on so I demonstrate and then you replicate, I could be some sort of poet or rapper with those lines. 

You can check out the course here:





Finally I am teaching in Robyn's Nest Cookery School on the 26th of February, where I show you how to make Macarons easy. I cant wait to work with the team at Robyn's Nest, they have a fantastic kitchen. So if you are interested just click the link below :


That's the current plan I also have a demonstration coming up in Cavan in a secondary school which will be great craic, I will be teaching bread and eclairs. 


So there you have it, that's what I am doing with myself right now in the baking world which is still my hobby as I still work in my day job as a Data Manager, oh there is a wedding in Clonabreany to be organised aswell with my best friend and Fiancee Joanne. If you have any questions on any of my courses just leave a comment below or tweet me I always tweet back.

Thank you for reading as always,

Will


Back to Top