great British blog off

The Great British Blog Off: Introduction

 Hello, internet people! 

A couple weeks ago, I got sick and spent most of the week curled up on the couch re-watching old seasons of Great British Bake Off. Thankfully, my COVID test came back negative and I’m mostly back to normal now, save my traditional lingering cough. 

That time on the couch reminded me of a few things. 

One, that I am very bad at being still. I hate when I can’t go for walks or runs or manage a vigorous yoga practice, and I’m very grateful to be back on the mat this week, even if I’m holding off on intense cardio until this cough settles. 

The second thing is that I love to bake. I didn’t exactly forget this fact, especially given that I’ve made about a loaf of sourdough bread a week since the sourdough craze of early 2020. But I realized I hadn’t really baked anything new and interesting since some point over the summer, and that kitchen adventures are an essential and absent piece of my self care.

Somehow in the haze of having the energy for nothing but Netflix and naps, I decided the only possible solutions to this problem were, in this order: 1) Bake sourdough cinnamon rolls 2) order officially licensed Great British Bake Off cookbooks and 3) Bake every recipe in said cookbooks, in order, like some kind of Julie & Julia situation. 

The first plan was easy enough. Feed sourdough starter to an appropriate level. Acquire buttermilk. Combine ingredients in bowl and let sit overnight, to be rolled out and cinnamon-roll-ified on Monday morning. 

For some reason, I got it into my head the last time I made homemade cinnamon rolls that it was an arduous undertaking. So, I expected my Monday morning to be a difficult one as I faced the dough on the counter. 

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve watched a lot more baking shows since the last attempt. Maybe it’s that our countertop is the perfect size and flatness for rolling dough out straight on the counter instead of messing with a rolling mat. Maybe the “easy overnight” recipe from Little Spoon Farms made all the difference. Or maybe I just don’t really remember the first attempt that well

Whatever the reason, this time around, it didn’t take me that long to roll the dough into something mostly resembling a rectangle, brush it with melted butter, and sprinkle on the brown sugar cinnamon mixture. 

Slicing the roll, which was most certainly a task back home in my parents’ kitchen, was easy work with my beloved dough scraper (seriously, the best purchase). Soon enough, fresh cinnamon rolls came out of the oven to be glazed and devoured. My first new sourdough baking experience in many months was complete.

My passion for exploring new recipes reignited, I immediately wanted to bake something else. 

Alas, I had to go to work and be an adult and such. But, when I got home that evening, I found the first of the two GBBO cookbooks I’d ordered in my baking frenzy waiting on my doorstep. 

Flipping through the first few recipes, I felt personally attacked. They were all lemon-based pastries. Was this an attempt to thwart my Great British Baking Blog idea? 

Considering the book was published in 2017 long before I came up with the notion, I have to assume the answer is no. But, for those who may not be aware, one of my most vehement food opinions is that lemon flavor hiding in pastry is one of the most insidious evils in existence.

This hatred dates back to a specific morning in Evansville, Indiana, when I purchased a delicious looking blueberry muffin from Starbucks on my way into work, only to discover that the glaze atop it was none other than a lemon drizzle. The lemon, as Paul Hollywood would say, completely overpowered the blueberries, and the muffin was ruined in my eyes… er, taste buds. 

That was years ago, but I have never forgiven lemons for intruding upon my breakfast pastry experience. That is… until now. 

Maybe.

Because I enjoy having a project and because I’ve already accomplished the major “run a half marathon” goal of 2020, I decided not to let the preponderance of lemon deter me from my baking adventure. I would bake my way through this entire cookbook, one weekend at a time (almost definitely missing some weekends because, hey, I’m human). 

The book begins with a Greek Yoghurt Lemon Loaf, and thus, so too must I. I picked up a couple of lemons and some Greek yogurt (as we Americans spell it), and plan to embark on the Great British Blog Off (because it turns out Great British Baking Blog is already taken) this Saturday. 

Will I cook every recipe in the book? That’s the intention, though I have to say I’m already giving the mango cake some serious side eye and that’s only recipe number two. 

Check back next week for what I hope will be a triumphant update in which lemon baked goods and I at last put aside our differences and make amends. 

That, or one of my local friends is getting a surprise “most of a lemon loaf” delivery on their doorstep. 

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