I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to write this post. After Love Productions ditched the BBC and Mel, Sue and Bezza jumped ship from Love Productions, I thought that’d be it for me in terms of at-home interaction. I figured I’d still watch it from time to time, occasionally tweet along with the show, but I’d said my goodbyes to active participation. Alas, here we are. Turns out I can’t resist.
On Wednesday (we’re always gonna be a day behind because we don’t have a TV license) I settled in to watch the first episode of the brand spanking new series in its new home expecting to freak out. What actually happened? A pretty standard episode of GBBO as we know and love it, I’d say.
Yes, Noel seemed super nervous throughout and he and Sandi might take a little more time to gel – bear in mind that Mel and Sue had been a comedy duo for years before they joined Bake Off – but I loved having him back on my telly, and I think if we give him a shot he’ll be a good fit in his own way. Yes, the adverts are annoying. There are no two ways around this. However, I didn’t feel the show had been cut to make room for them, and I guess I can just about put up with them for the sake of the cake. The only element of GBBO as we now know it that might never sit well with me? Prue. Replacing Mary Berry is a tall order, and she feels lacking in so many ways. Bezza was like the Grandmother of the entire country that we got to check in with once a week during GBBO season, and I don’t think we’re going to stop feeling that loss anytime soon.
There are a few things that I want to get out of the bake off bake along challenge this year. The first is consistency. You may remember that last year, I tried a couple of bakes and then tailed off relatively quickly. I don’t want that to happen this year, I’m fully committed and I’m hoping my consistency in the bake off challenge will lead to more content on the blog in general. We’re moving into autumn and I want to spend all my time at the oven or at my laptop writing. The second is skill. I’ve fully lost my touch when it comes to baking, and I want to get my head back in the game both creatively and scientifically to redevelop the capabilities I used to have. The third is that good old fashioned community spirit. I love the way the bake along brings together more and more bloggers every year, it creates such a brilliant internet environment for a couple of months. I’m so here for this.
So, what did I choose for my first challenge? I went for the easiest possible option, obviously. I’m really not in a good place baking wise at the moment, pretty much everything I try goes wrong somewhere along the line, so I wanted to play it safe as houses to eaaaase myself in. So, a fruity cake. What better place to look for a fruity cake recipe for the bake along than in previous bake off contenstant Ruby Tandoh’s book, Flavour..
There are a few fruit-featuring cakes in this book, but I was drawn most to the banana and thyme cake. In part because I had thyme left over in the fridge from Monday’s roast that I had no better plan for, but also because I was intrigued by the concept of putting herby leaves in a cake – and trying out a recipe that had no accompanying picture, for once in my life.
I was incredibly happy with the result tastewise. It’s a delicate, flavoursome wonder. Banana and thyme, who knew? Of course, in true Cate style it’s a far more rustic affair than anyone in the tent would dare to put forward for judgement. I mean, I didn’t even bother to cut baking paper to size, which is why the outer edges of the cake are bumpy and uneven. It’s very pretty, despite this, thanks to a scattering of thyme leaves and a little lemon zest.
It’s a simple and beautiful cake. Easy to make and a joy to eat, I highly recommend it. The subtle flavour of thyme and the gentle sweetness of bananas are brought together with the zing of lemony icing. I’m so glad I took a punt on baking with a combo I’d never tried before. If you don’t already own Ruby Tandoh’s book, buy it right now just so that you can make this cake. Then leaf through the rest of it because everything I’ve made from those pages has been glorious.
Next week, I promise I’ll up my game a little on difficulty and push the boat out on presentation. Or, at least cut baking paper to size. I’m very, very, very excited about this. If you’re interested in keeping up with all of the bloggers taking part in the bake along this season, you can find updates from us all on #bakeoffbakealong across all the social medias. And make sure you keep up to date with the project’s host, the beautiful Rhyme and Ribbons.