Last week I headed to the NEC in Birmingham for the BBC Good Food Show Winter. The show consisted of 100's of award winning producers of quality food and drink, demonstrations from celebrity chefs, the world cheese awards, opportunities to buy a range of food gadgets and ingredients, and also featured some of The Great British Bake Off stars.
After a quick wonder round to get my bearings, which was admittedly quite difficult as the show was massive! I started my day watching Francis Quinn, the 2013 Great British Bake Off winner, demonstrate how to make her Cauliflower Cheese Scones.
Frances talked about her creativity and admitted she always has a sketchbook on her as an idea can come to her at any moment. I was also relieved to her she is a fan of shortcuts, e.g. buying puff pastry. I completely agree!
She talked a lot about the friendly atmosphere on the GBBO set, the contestants all got on really well and were happy to share fridge space and borrow things from each other. She told the audience how they all went for dinner in Oxford the weekend after the final and caused somewhat of a stir when they all walked into a local restaurant - no wonder! And afterwards they enjoyed some rocky road made by Glenn.
The Cauliflower Cheese Scones looked brilliant and I was impressed with how easy they are to make. I will definitely be giving these a try!
At the end of the demo Frances was happy to meet and great with some fans - including me! She was such a lovely lady and very friendly.
I stayed put as next on stage was GBBO finalist Kimberley Wilson doing a demonstration of her Banana Nut Loaf with Hazelnut Praline and Rum Caramel. Just like on the show, Kimberley was full of technical knowledge! She explained that she used the creaming method for the loaf as it gets more air into the sponge, otherwise the banana will weigh the batter down.
Kimberley is still doing her 9-5 job as a psychologist, but takes time out for events like the BBC Good Food Show and the upcoming Remarkable Woman Conference that she will be attending along with fellow finalist Ruby Tandoh.
It seems like the most popular place to spot a GBBO contestant is in the local supermarket, both Frances and Kimberley talked about being stopped for baking advice and praise on their GBBO achievements while they shopped .
Some interesting GBBO statistics were revealed. During this year's series the contestants used 750 piping bags, 35 litres double cream, 80kg chocolate, 150kg sugar, 2000 eggs, 90kg butter, and 200kg flour. And the poor people who had to clean up spent 208 hours doing the washing up and used 25 litres of washing up liquid and 40 sponges!
The Banana Nut Loaf looked delicious, and the Rum Caramel sounds to die for. Kimberley recommended leaving the loaf till the next day so the flavours could mature. You can find the recipe here on Kimberley's website.
Kimberley was also kind enough to do a meet and greet with the audience!
You couldn't avoid the World Cheese Awards! The smell of the cheese was amazing and seeing so much cheese all in once place was pretty mouth watering. The awards are the biggest of their kind worldwide and having been running for over 20 years.
Throughout the BBC Good Food Show, visitors had the opportunity to learn about how the cheese is judged, sample some of the cheese, and learn some interesting facts about cheese.
I headed round the show to look at some of stalls and produce on offer at the show. Swifts Bakery had some gorgeous bread for sale. The Swift family have been baking bread since 1893, so they know a thing or two about it!
I was really interested to hear about how you can replace butter in your bakes with pureed prunes. Not only does this cut down on the sugar and fat content of your bake, but it also adds vitamins like potassium and Vitamin K to the bake. I tasted both an energy bar and chocolate brownie made with prunes and they were delicious! Check out California Prunes for recipes.
I purchased some ground cardamom from Fox's Spices, who had a massive range of herbs and spices in all kinds of forms available. I'm pretty sure from a thorough look at their stall that they stock pretty much every spice and herb that exists! Definitely the place to go if you are looking for the weird and wonderful of the spice world.
These gorgeous cakes were on the Delovely Cakes stall. I particularly love the gingerbread man cake and the cupcakes with mini macarons on top - gorgeous! They have some other stunning Christmas cakes on their website.
I love sweet potatoes and these sweet potato crisps from Scott's Farm were so yummy! Vegetable crisps are really good for you as well as being tasty, I've only ever since mixed varieties before (beetroot, parsnip, carrot) so it's great to see these on the market.
The Little Round Cake Company had their giant cakes and merangz for sale at their stall.
Scrumptious Sprinkles had a massive range of cupcakes cases, glitters and sprinkles to choose from.
I bought some delicious cheeses from Remarkable Foods including a caramelised onion cheddar that was divine.
You can order bread from the Hedonist Bakery that comes part baked and frozen so you can finish baking them at home for easy fresh and delicious bread anytime! I recommend the roasted onion bread.
I just had to share this rather interesting sign with you!!
My last stop of the day was to watch Stacie Stewart demonstrate on the Saturday Kitchen Stage where she made Honey Madelines with Cointreau Syrup and a Christmas Pavlova. When making the pavlova she demonstrated a fabulous product called 'Yolk Hero'. This little gadget easily removes egg yolks from the whites. You can buy it from Lakeland.
She gave the audience some great tips on making meringue; you can freeze eggs yolks and egg whites for months, when making meringues make sure the bowl is clean and free from any grease, if you add 1 tsp of cornflour and 1 tsp of white wine vinegar to your meringue it will improve the quality. She also told us that if you add golden syrup to whipped meringue mixture it makes 'fluff' - the marshmallow stuff you can buy in a jar, and if you whip cream at room temperature it will whip faster.
The Christmas Pavlova looked fab, it was filled with marscarpone cream, orange flavoured mincemeat and melted chocolate. I didn't get to taste any, but the Honey Madelines with Cointreau Syrup were amazing!
The BBC Good Food Show is definitely a food lovers heaven. I do enjoy food a lot, but baking is my main interest and although the show did have an area devoted to baking, it wasn't enough for me. However if you are a food all rounder who likes wine, cheese, chocolate and meat then this show is definitely for you. There are a huge number of chef demonstrations on, so you're bound to find someone you'll enjoy watching and you'll learn something new about food and cooking. Plus it's a great opportunity to try new flavours and sample some amazing quality foods!
The next BBC Good Food Show is at the NEC Birmingham from 12th - 15th June 2014. You can buy tickets and find out more here.
(In case you are wondering why I have not mentioned Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood; I was unable to watch their demonstration as I held a press pass and the press did not get an allocation of tickets on the day I attended.)