Over the past few weeks, the BBC has been gearing up for Red Nose Day, a charity telefon that happens once every other year and raises money for the charity Comic Relief, which funds projects here in the UK and in Africa. The charity was set up in 1985 and has so far raised over £950 million, so is a pretty big deal. For many years now, Comic Relief have published a recipe book that comes with the tag line 'Let's Bake for Comic Relief', and in recent years has been tied in with The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, a celebrity version of The Great British Bake Off.
We're not going to be holding a bake sale for Comic Relief as we're busy, but I have bought a copy of the recipe book, and on Friday I got to test it out. My criteria for deciding what to cook were (1) it must not contain chocolate as I've given it up for Lent; (2) it must be able to be baked from ingredients we already had in the house. Lots of the recipes looked tempting, and many contained pretty basic ingredients, so I had plenty of choice. I fancied making the blueberry bakewell tarts, but didn't fancy making pastry, so had another look and decided that the next most likely option was the sunshine flapjack. I love flapjack, and pretty much lived on it while at university, but haven't made any in ages, so was really excited to try a new recipe.
The book is really good for beginner bakers, with lots of handy little tips and hints. The flapjack recipe had the excellent hint that you shouldn't add too much syrup, as otherwise the flapjack would become solid when cooled. No one wants rock-like flapjacks! Having said I had all the ingredients to hand I was out of mixed seeds, so used flaked almonds instead, which really isn't a major substitution.
The recipe was really easy to follow, with just the right amount of direction. I followed the instruction to cut the flapjack whilst hot, as it's pretty tricky otherwise. I did skip the bit about heating and greasing the knife used to cut it though as I wasn't that bothered about presentation as it was just family eating it.
If you're new to baking, I'd definitely recommend this book (well, more of a pamphlet really). The instructions are very clear and easy to follow, and most of the recipes are things I'd like to eat. And you're helping a charity, so win win! If you already own a lot of the Great British Bake Off tie-in books you might want to give it a miss as the recipes all come from those tie-in books, so you will get some duplication. But there are plenty of other Red Nose Day products available should you wish to support the charity in other ways. You could even hold a bake sale yourself. Red Nose Day merchandise is available in Sainsbury's stores and Oxfam shops.
Last week was also made a Hummingbird chocolate cake at my son's request. I agreed, even though I'm not currently eating chocolate. I did find it pretty hard to resist - chocolate cake just smells so inviting! We almost had a disaster with the cake; I was using a spring-form tin, but hadn't aligned the base properly so nearly lost all the mixture over the oven floor! Fortunately I noticed in time and was able to salvage it, but the base of the tin did have quite a lot of mixture cooked to the outside, and the final cake was a long way from level.
My son decided to finish the cake off with blue butter cream and sparkly stars. Not what I would have chosen at all, but he had a lovely time helping, so it was hard to argue with.