Monday, 29 October 2012

The Great Office Bake Off

Not content with being addicted to The Great British Bake Off, here in the delicious. office we have decided to host our own. The rules are simple: three people compete each week, using delicious. recipes of their choice, and bring their masterpieces in on Monday morning for the rest of the office to judge. The bakers are anonymous, the scoring is secret, and each bake is given a mark out of 10. The winner goes through to the next round and the contestants are gradually whittled down to one proud (though flour covered) winner.

Since the clocks have gone back and the mornings have become dark and chilly, this sugar rush first thing on a Monday is providing a much-needed reason to get out of bed. Today marked the first heat, and a close run competition it was. 

Three very different bakes graced our table – a pear and blueberry upside down cake, a gaggle of chocolate cake pops and a salted caramel yule log (from our Christmas issue, out 2nd November). The skill of the bakers has left us in the food team slightly ambivalent. On the one hand, we’re pleased that the delicious. recipes work so well, but on the other, if the rest of the office can bake with such prowess, should we be scared for our jobs?! 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

SCRUM-ptious bakers

I get to do some pretty cool things in my job, but being fed cake by six tasty professional rugby players is up there as one of the top ways to spend an afternoon.

Let me explain. On Tuesday I went to Twickenham to watch three players from Harlequins go head to head against three from the London Irish team in the mother of all competitions – a cake bake off.

The bake off came ahead of the London derby between the two teams this Sunday in the Aviva Premiership match. Now I don’t have much interest in rugby, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to watch players try to make classic Victoria sponges with next to no instructions.

Under the watchful eye of judge and Great British Bake Off finalist Stuart Marston-Smith (who is a keen rugby player), the teams got to work on the pre-weighed ingredients.

Plonking flour, butter, eggs, milk, vanilla extract and caster sugar into bowls, the boys got to mixing. The London Irish boys had a much more cavalier attitude than their Harlequins counterparts, with their cake mixtures ready for the oven in minutes. The more measured Quins boys reminded them it wasn’t a race as they neatly wiped away stray cake mixture from the tins.
The London Irish boys fill their cakes under Stuart's watchful eye

Friday, 26 October 2012

Cakes and spice

When you’re an editor of a magazine, evenings can be even busier than the days (and that's saying something), but in a different way from producing the pages of the magazine... and that way can often be tasty. 

One night last week, there were no less than eight events happening on the same night – and those events can be anything from book launches to new product launches, to dinners celebrating the cuisine of a particular country, to restaurant openings. Running shoes to get from event to event: an advantage. If for no other reason than burning off the calorie overload!

Last night I determined to fit in two things: Edd Kimber, winner of the first series of the Great British Bake Off, was launching his second book since being in the baking spotlight. The book is called Say It With Cake (Kyle, £18.99) and it's a gem – joining many other significant baking books new on the shelves this autumn (Sybil Kapoor's magnificent Simply Baking and Annie Bell's Baking Bible to name but two). 

As I chatted to Edd ('master of the macaroon', as one swooning fan described him as she passed by last night), I asked him what a former Bake Off winner does two years on – apart from writing books. Edd told me he's recently started baking and selling cakes at the hot food destination Maltby Street, near London Bridge, where traders sell their delicious wares tucked away under the railway arches. Edd's Maltby Street offerings are homely bakes such as cinnamon buns and biscuits. Could be worth a visit on a chill-some October Saturday morning (the market is open from 9am–2pm, Saturdays only).

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

It's (almost) Christmas!

The world of magazines is a strange and wonderful place, always a season ahead, always thinking about the next thing. We started planning Christmas in (believe it or not) July, yanking our attention away from long summer days (wasn’t too tricky this year, funnily enough) to thinking about snow, mince pies, chilly nights and log fires. Essential for creating the mood? Playlists of carols (vetted by chief sub-editor, in-office DJ and cocktail correspondent Les). And here's a quirky behind-the-scenes fact: the whole delicious. team, plus guests, sat down together in August to eat the brilliant Christmas lunch that our food team Lizzie, Becks and Rosie have created for December 2012... Why do we sit down and try it en masse? To make sure the flavours work together on the plate – and also to make sure our time plan works to the letter.

Now, finally, after months of tasting, testing, planning and writing, the December issue has gone off in a sleigh to be printed, ready to go on sale in just about three weeks’ time.

How is the delicious. team celebrating the finishing of the issue? Not with mulled wine but with cocktails, of course – perhaps a negroni or a glass of champagne fizz. If you feel a cocktail coming on, here’s some inspiration… Cheers!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Food prices: the only way is up

Shopping list: make a list and stick to it
Economists are warning that the cost of the weekly food shop in the UK may rise by four per cent in the coming year, while British farmers continue to bemoan the poor 2012 growing season. 

It wasn't just the UK harvest that suffered this season, either. In the US and Russia, two major grain-growing countries, drought was the cause for record low harvests.

Regardless of whether there was too much rain or too little, the result is the same: higher prices for food - and the UK, it seems, is likely to be harder hit that many EU nations.

By now, we’re all familiar with belt-tightening and making do with less but, as a quick reminder, here are five of the best ways to cut the cost of food (and food waste) without losing out on taste or quality.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

It's time to get ugly...

Knobbly veg
We at delicious. take our hats off to Sainsbury’s, who have recently relaxed their buying policy, welcoming a wider range of ‘ugly’ British fruit and veg onto the supermarket’s shelves. 

For the first time, taste – rather than cosmetic perfection – will be the primary consideration, paving the way for more curvy courgettes, blemished apples and pitted potatoes that taste great, even if they score less highly in the looks department.

Knobbly veg logo
Illustration: Anne Sharp/
About time, we say. We’ve been championing the cause of knobbly veg for years. Our delicious. campaign calls for a change in legislation that would ultimately cut down on food waste and save consumers cash by allowing greater amounts of less than cosmetically perfect fruit and veg to be sold. If you think the same as we do, please join our campaign – and put some more of that ugly fruit in your shopping basket.

Admittedly, Sainsbury’s decision was largely based on practicality – the summer of 2012 has gone down in the record books one of the coldest and wettest on record. All sorts of crops, from potatoes to cherries, were adversely affected by the glum weather. Veg that just wouldn’t have made the grade in previous years has had to fill in all those gaps.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The day of the 6ft spaghetti

I feel both excited and very proud looking at our fabulous November cover. I keep telling people “I made that pasta curtain you know… by hand!” 
And there is Nigella, the domestic goddess herself, leaning against it! 

Can you imagine anything more nerve-racking? I was in the middle of rolling out fresh pasta for the shoot, trying to make 6ft long spaghetti, teeth gritted and covered in flour, when in walks Nigella, looking amazing in tracksuit bottoms and a t shirt. "Hello", she says, "great pasta". 

Those two little words made it all worth the effort. And if any of you are ever in need of a giant spaghetti curtain…. I’m the girl to ask!