• Video debut in my quest at becoming an Uuni Pro

    As you already know, I am the proud owner of an Uuni Pro and have been for a fair few months.  We have had a Summer of eating wood-fired pizzas cooked in our Uuni Pro shared with family and friends, as well as with the residents of Coln St Alwyns and the surrounding villages at the the Coln St Aldwyns fete in early September.

    As you will also know, I have an Instagram account called ‘bakebybuffy’ and being a proud owner of an Uuni Pro, I follow Ooni on Instagram.   While scrolling through my Instagram feed on the 14 September 2018, as I do every morning as a means of keeping awake after my alarm goes off, I came across the following on oonihq:

    ‘Attention all pizza lovers!  We’re searching for Pizza Taste Testers – these are paid roles combining working on and tasting new recipes, being the first to give our new products a whirl, and showcasing Ooni to the world through your social media profiles.  Sound like you?  Click the link in our bio to read the full job description’.

    Reading through the post, I felt that the job had my name written all over it.  Since reading the post and seeing the 927 likes and 232 comments, I have realised that many people feel the same way.  As they say though ‘you have to be in it to win it’ so over the last few weeks I have been working on my 1 minute video application, which Ooni want instead of a traditional CV application.

    Filled with excitement, my friend Colin from Design and Code and I came up with an idea for a video – my Uuni Pro and I on the road.  Initially we planned to take our Uuni Pro on the road down to Devon where Jo and I were spending the weekend, so that he could finally pick up the surfboard that he had painstakingly handcrafted out of poplar for his 50 Birthday in June.  We had offered to cook pizzas for all the surfers on the Saturday night, but the owner of Otter Surfboards had already made arrangements for Canteen to provide the evening meal.  We had also thought of making pizzas on the beach on Sunday as the sun went down, but none of this happened as the weather over the weekend was some of the worst weather we had for a while – torrential downpours.  Not deterred, we decided on plan B.   Not quite as exotic as Plan A but a plan nevertheless.

    Late on the Friday afternoon, we decided to stop overnight at our in-laws in Bath en route to Devon.  As we had imposed ourselves on them at a late stage, we offered to take our Uuni Pro with us and cook pizzas for the family.  I started the dough at home, trusting that it would prove on our 1.5 hour journey to Bath.  It did – by the time we got to Bath, the dough had proved well.  As soon as we arrived, Jo unloaded the Uuni Pro and set it up for lighting.  At the same time, I got on to making the tomato sauce and caramelised onions and prepping the toppings and the pizza bases.  The whole process took 3 hours (starting at 17.45 pm and finishing at 20.45 pm with us sitting down to eat a range of four pizzas), including a 1.5 hour trip from Coln St Aldwyns to Bath.  Not bad, even if I say so myself and certainly helped by the efficiency of my Uuni Pro – transporting, setting up and lighting and cooking (60 seconds).  I should possibly mention the most important part i.e. that we were shooting footage of all the stages as we went so that I could put together the 1 minute video required for the application.  Although there is always room for improvement, the evening resulted in us having enough video footage for my application.  We also had delicious pizzas for dinner – an added bonus.

    Since our pizza making evening in Bath we have been working on editing the footage into a 1 minute video fit for submission.  After quite a bit of tweaking, I finally submitted my application on Tuesday.  The closing date for applications is the 14 October so I will have to be patient for a few days.  I am crossing all appendages until then.  If successful, I will definitely share my video with you.

  • Baking for a good cause?

    Earlier last week one of my colleagues asked me if I would bake him a couple of loaf cakes for the Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, a lemon drizzle and a fruit loaf.  Not only did he ask me if I would bake for him, but that he would pay me for the fruits of my labour.  I jumped at the chance, both of paid employment as well as baking for such a worthwhile cause.  I did offer to bake the cakes at cost for such a good cause, but I was told that he wanted to pay the full price of the cakes.

    After work, the day of the bake, my stomach started to niggle.  I had intended to sleep when I got home to try to shake off the niggle, but various things got in the way.

    After a bit of a rest (but not sleep) I set about making the lemon drizzle and fruit cake.  As usual, I had scoured the Internet for suitable recipes.  After an extensive search I came across a lemon drizzle cake from Baking Mad and a fruit loaf from The Kitchen Sanctuary.  Of course there is always a danger of baking something you have never baked before for a client, but I didn’t have tried and tested recipes for either loaf cake.

    As I had started the fruit cake before work, as the dried fruit needed to soak in the tea for several hours before use, I thought I should complete the fruit cake before I started on the lemon drizzle cake.  The bake went relatively smoothly.  I kept a beady eye on the cake whilst baking ensuring that the top of the cake was not becoming too dark.  It was only in the last 15 minutes that I covered it with foil to prevent further darkening of the top.  Although I felt that the bake was not too dark, when I photographed the cake for my Instagram page, I noticed that the bake was a little darker than I had initially thought.  On these occasions I hear the words of my Chef Tutor in my ear saying ‘colour is flavour’ and hope that his words are correct.

    After my fruit loaf was safely out of the oven and cooling nicely, I set about preparing and baking my lemon drizzle cake (which I had started preparing while the fruit cake was in the oven).  The bake went well, except for the fact that I had to bake the cakes in my domestic oven rather than my professional oven as I couldn’t find the 13 amp extension lead for the professional oven and I didn’t have the energy to drag it by myself across the kitchen floor to plug it into the 13 amp plug.  I am not sure what it is about my domestic oven, but I am convinced that the fan is a little too fierce and blows a mighty gale in one direction, as my bakes often look a little windswept.  The lemon drizzle cake was no exception.  I half convinced myself to do the bake again, but it was getting late and I really needed to get to bed for my morning shift.  There was nothing wrong with the bake of the lemon drizzle cake, it was just the the left side of the cake was a little higher than the right, despite the fact that I had evened out the top of the cake mixture prior to placing it in the oven, as instructed.

    I wrapped the cooled cakes in some baking parchment, tied with raffia and a ‘bake’ label and went to bed.  I managed to get through the bake, as well as do the costings for the cake without my stomach causing me too much trouble.  Or so I thought ….

    At about 1.30 am, I woke up with very severe abdominal pains.  I lie down in a hot bath, a couple of paracetamol and hot water bottle did not do the trick for long and sometime between 1.30 am and 5.40 am when my alarm goes off, I got out of bed and was violently ill.  Although I did go back to sleep after this, it didn’t take me long to realise when I woke up that I was too ill to go into work.  I also had to decide what to do about the cakes.  Although I was almost entirely convinced that this episode was related to my underlying health condition, I couldn’t be 100 % certain and so I took the decision to inform the person I had made the cakes for about the situation.  I left it to him whether he used the cakes for the coffee morning or not.  Mustering enough energy to take the cakes (with note) to work just before 8 am on the Thursday, I went home and back to bed, where I remained for the best part of two days.  I literally slept for the first 24 hours.

    Although still bearing the scars of this most recent episode of illness, I am now back at work.  I learnt on my return that the gentlemen who I made the cakes for didn’t donate them to the coffee morning, but instead decided to eat them himself (with the assistance of his wife).  They have eaten the lemon drizzle cake and are now working their way through the fruit loaf.  I have been advised that both cakes were very delicious.

    The sad thing is that although I was poorly, it wasn’t anything contagious (just my own medical condition).  By being cautious (and honest) my cakes couldn’t be used as intended to help a good cause.  Although I only got the cost of the ingredients (which I was grateful for), I still wouldn’t change what I did as could not have forgiven myself if someone had got ill eating one of my bakes.  Lets hope I have better luck next time.