Homemade Nibbles & News #2

A New Baking Challenge For Me

daddy and son

It feels like a long time since I have sat down to write for my blog.  I’ve missed it, but my mummy day job has required me to work overtime of late.  My little boy, who is nearly 2 has recently been diagnosed with a list of allergies as long as Mr Tickle’s arms!  His diet is extremely restricted for the time being and it’s a lot to take in and get used to.  Ironic really given that I am so passionate about food, but as many people have pointed out to me, this can be seen as a new creative challenge.  I fully agree, and once I have got my head around it a bit more you might see some allergy friendly recipes appearing on this blog.  I’m particularly keen to make him the bestest birthday cake ever in a couple of weeks time, so watch this space…

The Cake and Bake show

Cakes at the cake and bake show

The highly anticipated Cake and Bake show arrived in London just over a week ago, and you could probably guess by my Cake and Bake preview night post that I was more than a little bit excited about going along.  A great line up of speakers were scheduled to teach us snippets of their expertise, and the list of demos and classes was particularly impressive.

However, on the day it was not just the grey sky and persistent rain that was a disappointment, the show itself had a number of teething issues that meant after only 2 hours, I felt it was time to go.  The biggest issue for me was the amount of people. cake and bake show

Apparently, 21,000 tickets had been sold over the the two days to cake lovers and budding bakers alike.  Just goes to show how much we all love cake and baking.  But it was packed! People were taking seats at demos 90 mins before they were due to start, stock was sold out, the stalls were hidden by rows of people and the queues (to get in, for the bathroom and to get some lunch) were horrendous.  The other issue for me was the lack of anything ‘bake’.  Yes I know they had plenty of celebrity bakers doing their thing, and I saw a couple from a far but I was expecting to see innovate baking products and ingredients for sale.  I wanted to be inspired and to get a few things in my shopping bag that I had never seen before.  Instead, there were enough cupcake cases to last everyone in there a life time!  I think somebody forgot to tell them that although we all love a cupcake, most people have moved on having ‘been there and done that’ with the cupcake thing.

cake and bake

Perhaps I should have been more prepared and planned my day a bit better, although I would never have predicted the waiting time (for demos, lunch etc) so my carefully planned schedule might well have been out of the window pretty early on making me even more annoyed no doubt.  I would certainly take food, in a ruck sack (not so obstructive when tackling crowds) next time.  Being fed and watered might have given me more strength to stay a bit longer.  And this is where I think I have hit the nail on the head, the Cake and Bake show essentially required better planning and easily accessible fuel to keep us all going.  A point for both the organisers and anyone attending to consider for next time.Mary Berry

I want to end my thoughts on a high though as despite my shorter than expected stay, there were a couple of highlights that really were quite special.  The first was getting to see Mary Berry in the flesh, even if it was from a far.  She said something in the short time I saw her which I think I will go on quoting for years;

“People say all the time that eating cake and baking is not good for you.  That’s rubbish, it’s homemade and everyone feels better after cake.  You can have and enjoy your cake, just remember not to go back for seconds!’

Mary, I could not agree with you more!!

Other highlights included another chance to enjoy the splendid chocolates made by Paul A Young, and the chocolate tempering spoon with inbuilt thermometer that I purchased.  Cool huh?   Not used it yet, so can’t comment on if it actually works or not, but will certainly let you know.

Tesco Real Food Baking Challenge

Fruit tarts

If you love to bake (and I know most of you do) then this Tesco Real Food Baking Challenge might be something worth taking a look at.  Tesco are giving away a luxury stay with a full-day cookery course for four at Eckington Manor Cookery School along with a range of kitchen appliances, an Eric Lanlard signed cookbook and Persil products!  Fab prize and all you have to do is upload your favorite baking recipe to their Real Food website, and you will be in with a chance of winning.

Busy baking

I was lucky enough to attend a blogging event to launch this competition and enjoyed a fun evening making some of their favourite baked treats. See me above with Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from Utterly Srummy getting stuck into the baking.

Real food baking challenge

As you can see from the pictures, there was an incredible selection of cakes and bakes at the end.  My favorite was the salted caramel millionaires shortbread.  The combination of crunchy biscuit, tangy caramel and smooth dark chocolate made it very hard to stick to Mary Berry’s ‘one slice rule’.

Black forest cupcakes

Fairtrade Ndali Vanilla Gift Swap at Fortnum & Mason

Ndali fairtrade gift swap cake

In time to kick start the Big Fair Bake campaign  (24th September – 7th October) and to spread the fairtrade message after her visit to Uganda, fellow blogger Vanessa Kimbell organised a baking gift swap in the stunning surroundings of Fortumn and Mason.  Each blogger was sent some Ndali vanilla and we brought along a homemade vanilla bake to enter into a judged gift swap. The fabulous cake above was made by Rosie from Freycob blog

It was a well orgnaised and enjoyable afternoon.  Meeting more of my blogging friends face to face was a highlight along with hearing Vanessa talk about how buying fairtrade really does help the farmers who grow the crops that supply us with ingredients that we often take for granted.  Vanessa Kimbell

The one thing that stuck in my mind, was a quote from a farmer that Vanessa met.  He said, "we don't want charity, we just want a fair price."  and that does not seem at all unreasonable to me.  So, from now on, I'm certainly going to look out for fairtrade products when I shop as I know that split second decision and everyday action of putting something in my trolly does actually make a big difference to people many miles away.

vanilla gifts

The other highlight was getting the most divine vanilla and olive oil macarons from Cindy at Food for Thoughts blog as my gift to take home.  I made a selection of my mini cupcakes, which actually did not travel very well and ended up being a bit bruised and battered so I felt a bad for the person getting mine, although I'm hoping that they still tasted good.

For any bloggers reading this, Foodies 100 are also getting involved in the big fair bake and are running a baking challenge too.

Sew White’s Christmas Cake Decorating Competition

One of my favorite bakeware suppliers Sew White has also launched a seasonal baking competition.  Still feels a tad early for thinking about Christmas to me but in actual fact now would be a great time to get those Christmas cakes made so that they are nice and mature for enjoying when the day arrives.  To enter, all you need to do is send in a picture of any Christmas baking that you have done and The Great British Bake Off’s John Whaite will pick a winner.  A fab Sew White hamper is up for grabs so I will definitely be entering.

 Macmillian Coffee Morning

macmillian coffee morning

Hands up who went to a Macmillan coffee morning last Friday?  I did.  In fact I went to two!!  The first was a lovely opportunity to meet new mums from my daughter's class, and then I drove up to my local Shopping centre, Bluewater in Kent to go to another one.  Marks and Spencer had been in touch to ask if I would be interested in entering a cake into their 'Bluewater get baking' competition.  I was of course only too thrilled to have another opportunity to bake a cake and decided that I would make the Peggy Porschen Lemon and Limoncello cake that I have had my eye on for ages from her Baking Boutique book.  It's such a cute size consisting of three six inch layers.  I had to buy the tins especially but I know I will use them again.Lemon and Limoncello cake

Not expecting anything other than a nice coffee and a chance to meet a few new people, I was amazed when I found out I had won a £250 M & S voucher.  It certianly put a smile on my face in the midst of dealing with the news of my son's allergies which I had found out about just a day before.

Millions of pounds are raised through the Macmillan cofffee mornings and I was surprised to learn that they had been doing them for 22 years.  Such a worthy charity, and I'm looking forward to next years one already.

Nakd Bar Launch New Flavours

nakd bars

I only recently found out about the lifesaver that is the Nakd bar.  Wish I had known sooner, as these little jems are perfect to statisfy that mid afternoon dip when you might go hunting for something like biscuits, chocolate, crisps etc.  The people behind Nakd bar must be pretty pleased with themselves for having one of the few 100% natural and raw bars on the market.  They are just raw fruits and nuts smooshed together, and I'm now hooked.

To add to their already vast selection of interesting flavours, you can now get your paws on rhurbarb and custard, (taste just like the sweet) and caffe mocha.

Coming next on Homemade by Fleur 

A flapjack challenge to really get your teeth into.

Thank you to Nudge PR for my Cake and Bake press pass, and Tesco, Nakd, The Fairtrade Organsiation, Ndali Vanilla and Vanessa Kimbell for inviting me to related events and for the goodie bag I received afterwards.




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  1. LivOctober 4, 2012 at 8:26 pmReply

    Poor little man, but if anyone is up for the challenge it’s you. he is lucky to have a talented mum who I’m sure will whip up the best birthday cake :)

    • FleurOctober 4, 2012 at 10:05 pmReplyAuthor

      Thanks Liv. I’m hoping that he might grow out of a few at some point but for now it’s a steep learning curve. x

  2. Laura ParsonsOctober 4, 2012 at 9:54 pmReply

    So sorry to hear about your son. As an allergy sufferer myself I hope you find ways to manage it. :-)

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy the show either but those macaroons with pearls look beautiful. X

    • FleurOctober 4, 2012 at 10:00 pmReplyAuthor

      Thank you Laura, and yes I agree the pearls on the macarons is an inspired idea. They look so pretty.

  3. ChocletteOctober 5, 2012 at 10:06 amReply

    What a blow to find out your son has so many food allergies. But as you said that will bring out your creativity even more and I’m sure you’ll come up with all sorts of interesting foods to give him.

    Sounds as though you’ve had a very busy time of it recently – I feel quite exhausted!

    • FleurOctober 5, 2012 at 11:05 amReplyAuthor

      Thanks Choclette, yes it’s been quite a shock, but hopefully we will get used to the ‘new normal’ pretty soon. Funny how everything comes at once! I’m hoping the next couple of weeks are not so eventful. x

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