Food & Drink Thursday, November 2nd

'Bake Off' blues? How to eat your way through the latest series in Herefordshire

Food & Drink Thursday, November 2nd

'Bake Off' blues? How to eat your way through the latest series in Herefordshire

If the thought of going nine months without Paul and Mary/Prue is deflating you like a poorly-made soufflé, don’t panic.

Aside from actually making the dishes you’ve seen on the show – who has the time? – the next best thing is seeking out some of the best in baked goods from Herefordshire’s cafés and delis and bakeries so that you can relive the latest series.

Here’s some ideas, from pies to patisserie, episode by episode.


Episode #3: Bread



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Let’s start with the first thing most people think of, when you say ‘baking’. Locally, we’re blessed by not one, but two award-winning bread men.

Alex Gooch rose to baking fame on a sourdough wave, with his artisan operation in Hay-on-Wye seeing him named Baker of the Year in 2015. You can get your hands on a slice at a whole host of the county’s top food spots (Rule of Tum, Cellar Door, Noble & Wild – click here a list of full stockists) – or grab a loaf at Fodder in Hereford, or the market in Hay.

Peter Cooks has 20 years and a Best Speciality Loaf under his belt, and stepped out from Ludlow’s Price & Sons to start his own project. This includes classes and courses – taught at the Hop Pocket in Bishop's Frome, where you can also buy Peter’s bread – and supplying farm shops and delis all across the county.

He also makes a mean tea-cake – which was the ‘signature’ round in episode three – that you can try at Caffe No.21 in Ledbury.


Episode #6: Pastry

In episode six, the Great British Bakers were asked to knock up a couple of pies – with the Showstopper being, to quote Wikipedia, “a family-sized hand-raised pie with a savoury filling using hot water crust pastry, topped with glazed fruits.”

And if it’s filling and fruity you’re looking for – look no further than Legge’s in Bromyard, and fifth-generation farmer Anthony Legge. His award-winning, Countryfile-approved pies are knocked up with ingredients from less than six miles of the Tenbury Street butchers. They’ve got classic plus-sized pies with steak and venison to eat hot at home, but they’re famous for their cold range, which features the likes of a beautifully alliterate pork, perry and pear pie.

And if you can’t make it to the store in Bromyard, they opened a deli in Hereford last year.


Episode #9: Patisserie

If bread and pies are a bit heavy for your tastes, here’s something that brings a little ooh la la to proceedings.

I know what you’re thinking. Where are you going to find a French patisserie chef in Herefordshire? Well, Ledbury actually.

Pascal Clarenne is a real life Francais (or he puts on an impeccable accent) who turns out the kind of delicious, light, indulgent desserts that will have you thinking of summer breezes drifting across the Seine. He does so at Chez Pascal – a little hidden gem in a new premises on New St – and chases it with a pretty good coffee, or French red if you’d prefer.

And, like at least three of the GBBO contestants, he makes a fine Choux Bun.


Episode #4: Caramel

If week four had your sweet tooth twitching, you need to head down to King St Kitchen in Hereford. A bit like a few of the contestants, KSK do naughty things with caramel, specifically things like their Peanut, chocolate and sea salt caramel brownies and their Banoffee Millionaire’s shortbread. #Treatyoself – supplies won’t last long.


Episode #7: Italian

For the Technical Task in this episode, the show took a left turn and asked the contestants to knock up a pizza margherita “with a thin, crispy base”.

And if you want to see how that’s done first hand, head to the Shack Revolution or the Rocket Café, both in Hereford, and both with open kitchens to give you a good view before you have a slice or six. The stonebaked Shack pizzas tend towards the thinner, crispier end, while the Rocket’s sourdough crust is legendary.


Episode #2: Biscuits

While purists may argue the toss on this one, Bake Off has always rewarded creativity. And whether or not it qualifies in the category, Tandem Bakery in Hereford has taken to producing half-cookie-half-brownies, in what sounds like a Ben and Jerry’s flavour without the ice cream. They also make cakes that look like Oreo's - the archetypal 'sandwich biscuit' that contestants were asked to bake in episode two's first task.

And because you’re reading this, it’s probably worth mentioning one of their other baked creations – the famous doughnut milkshakes. You may need a lie down after.


Episode #1: Cakes

Okay, the big one.

Sure, everyone who can knock up a Victoria sponge thinks they could probably accomplish the fruit cakes seen in episode one. But the truth is, from farm shops to coffee’n’cake cyclists cafes, Herefordshire is rich in the kind of cake spots that will leave you feeling like a rank amateur.

Several of the places mentioned already also specialise in the kind of cake slices that make your afternoon worth it.

Everyone will have their favourite. Whether it’s lemon polenta cake at Richard Booth’s Bookshop in Hay, something from the quirky, cosy Malthouse in Ledbury, or vegan-friendly and non-vegan friendly treats at the Rocket on Hereford’s Church St. Or All Saints Café, or Border Bean, or the Courtyard…. (you get the picture).

But two places that should be on everybody’s list are De Koffie Pot in Hereford, with its incredible, indulgent doorstep slabs of cake, and the Nest, which, found between Hereford and Ledbury and around the corner from several fruit farms, pairs up beautiful baking with some of that seasonal fruit.

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