I was invited to my first food-related blogging event in London, organised by Whitworths and held at Venturis Table in London. It happened to be held on my birthday, so what better way to spend a birthday than with a fun event such as this.
It was a thrill not only to do bake in a terrific kitchen and test some excellent products from Whitworths, but to meet and chat with fellow bloggers. I met some inspiring people with such a wealth of enthusiasm and expertise; I have given links to some of their amazing blogs later in this post.
The marvellous Holly Bell, a finalist in The Great British Bake Off and best-selling food author, was leading the event. She cooked two of the recipes she had created for Whitworths with us (tropical breakfast bars and fruity tiffin) and entertained us with her warm personality and stories from her time on Bake Off. And what a great sense of humour!
When someone is so enthusiastic about food and using quality ingredients, it really makes for the most deliciously infectious occasion.
Phil from Whitworths talked to us about the history of Whitworths and introduced us to some of their product range with such a natural passion for the products. It was fascinating how their fruit for snacking is slightly different to their fruit that is ideal for baking: for their baking range, it is all about what bakes well, giving the best texture and just the right level of moisture.
Passing around some of fruit gave ample opportunity to savour the flavours and get ideas for future bakes: now I adore their shots range and I use Whitworths dried cherries a lot – it probably their product I use the most (my large jar of dried cherries macerating in Amaretto are staring at me as I type, daring me to dive in!).
However, I am now particularly eager to use their dried pineapple which I had never actually eaten before. It tastes amazing: a concentrated burst of heavenly pineapple. Seriously, I could have swiped the packet and had it all to myself!
A baking idea with Whitworths pineapple:
While eating the dried pineapple I had two immediate thoughts:
(1) I had been transported straight back to my favourite beach in Hawaii – my top holiday destination!
(2) Baking! I must make some cupcakes (seriously, cupcakes were my first baking-related thought!). And in a flash I planned the bake in my head: I will use chopped pieces of the pineapple and a some Whitworths coconut (toasted) that would get folded into the sponge mixture for added tang and tropical flair. As for the buttercream, I will purée some of the pineapple with a little lime juice and a splash of rum before whisking into the buttercream, Ok, it is essentially a piña colada cupcake…..but why on earth not?
Whitworths Baking Challenge
Over the next few weeks I will be baking a selection of different Whitworths recipes using a variety of their range of products, as part of their baking challenge, and please do join in. More to come on that in future posts.
Tropical breakfast bars:
The tropical breakfast bars we made – a beautiful selection of dried fruit and oats, with no sugar apart from the natural sugars in the fruits – are divine! They are very healthy but they don’t rub in any of that sour “you will eat me in sufferance and make do!”-type cry that can often be heard screaming from healthy foods. Quite the contrary: these breakfast bars carry their own indulgence through the strength of the fruit and they are very moreish.
A tarted-up tiffin:
I must confess that I have not made tiffin since I was a young boy but re-visiting this great sweet treat was a joy.
The use of Whitworths fruit and nuts adds extra luxuriousness: the natural fruit is intensely flavoured (it is very hard not to snack on it and forget to put the fruit into the mixture!) and is very succulent, which works brilliantly here. The tiffin does carry more wickedness with a little sugar and a chocolate topping, but it has to be done!
The recipe below for the fruity tiffin is Holly’s recipe. When I re-made the tiffin at home (my first batch didn’t last long!) I decided to use chocolate transfer sheets for the chocolate top: I have stacks of them and I just felt like using them up! Sure, this is over-kill here, but a tarted-up tiffin is hardly going to be snubbed when passed around…..well, certainly not in this household!
Recipe: fruity tiffin
I have uploaded Holly’s recipe for her fruity tiffin below. Note my chocolate smudges over it! It really is well worth making. Naturally you can add all manner of goodies to it and vary some of the ingredients. It also freezes beautifully: although I doubt there will be much left to freeze!
But I must highlight Mel (from Le Coin de Mel) and her delightful children, who had joined her for the event. Her children had been busy decorating cupcakes, which they presented to me later in the afternoon as a birthday treat: a lovely surprise and a heart-warming moment. And it is always a joy when children are involved in baking.
Now, I always hate seeing pictures of me and I will go to great lengths at any occasion at work or socially to avoid being photographed, but I will relent on this occasion as this rounded off an excellent day: