The other day I was kindly invited along to the Betty’s cookery school, based here in Harrogate where we live. That in itself would have been worthy of a little happy dance but I had the added pleasure of watching a demonstration by non other than Nancy Birtwhistle, the winner of this year’s Great British Bake Off. My mum thought I was very jammy, I can tell you!
I am a big fan of Betty’s and Bake off, and clearly I’m not the only one as I joined an excited group waiting to meet the special guest. Meanwhile, the most delicious canapes made on the premises were served, including an amazing cup of cauliflour soup with truffle oil (of which I could have eaten a whole bowl).
I have to say Nancy comes across exactly as she did on the telly; warm, funny, down to earth and a proper Yorkshire lass at heart. The two festive recipes she made for us epitomised her style of baking; simple but still special. The first recipe was for a Christmas leftovers quiche, using up all the bits and pieces in your larder after the big day such as cheese, bacon, sausage, sprouts etc. I think I’m definitely going to try this as we’re going away for a short break after boxing day and this quiche could be the perfect thing to make and take away with us on holiday. After the first demo, we had a break during which Betty’s mince pies and mulled wine were served, so I was in heaven! They are hands down the best, you have to try them if you ever get to one of the cafes around here (or you might even be able to order some online). I highly recommend!
The second demo was Nancy’s take on the traditional yule log with a lovely looking festive swiss roll, made with cranberry and orange jam plus whipped cream inside. The clever bit was the way she piped green and red Christmas trees onto the parchment before baking the sponge batter to create a cute design, especially as the trees all stand up in a row when you roll it up. She also decorated the top with her own handmade chocolate trees – nice!
One of the best bits about the afternoon was listening to Nancy’s recollections of the whole Bake Off experience as well as some of the funny anecdotes. She fielded lots of questions from the audience throughout the demo such as, will she bring out a book (“Maybe but not any time soon”), has the Bake Off changed her (“Never, I am what I am”) and what has life been like since she won (“Amazing!). She also divulged that she had her doubts about Paul Hollywood before she went on the show but that he’s actually a really nice guy in real life plus what really happened in that ice cream episode: “What happened happened, there’s no getting away from that but they did a bit of naughty editing. Everyone was having a nightmare that day because it was so hot in the tent – they didn’t show Chetna blow-torching hers while it was still in the freezer for example! But that ice cream was never going to set, mainly because of the ingredients he’d used.”
Nancy was a star from start to finish. Her bakes were brilliant, as was her banter and she took the time to chat with everyone while signing their recipe cards and posing for photographs. All that remained was for me to have a quick browse of all the yummy Christmas products, temptingly on sale in the Betty’s shop on site before hopping in the car, a very happy Bake Off fan! Thanks so much to Bettys for inviting me along to this lovely event – it was a wonderful early Christmas present!