By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Tying in with the brand new series of The Great British Bake Off and 2014 finalist Luis Troyano’s first cookbook – ‘Bake It Great’ – out later this month, we had a chat with the man himself. Discussing his new book, life after the Bake Off, and Beekeeping. Here’s what the Great British Baker had to say.
Hi Luis, what are you up to today?
Today so far I’ve made 144 portions of dark chocolate brownie for an order and now I’m just catching up on emails (which isn’t very interesting). I’m a little behind on things after a week on holiday and I was demoing recipes on the Feast Stage at the RHS Tatton Flower Show all weekend which was amazing and great fun.
You’re releasing your own cookbook later in the month, how much has life changed for you since competing in The Great British Bake Off?
Wow, where do I start? My life has been turned upside down in the most amazing way. I gave up my old day job and now focus on baking activities. I was very privileged to get the opportunity to write my own recipe book, so that took quite a lot of time to do. I also hold afternoon teas at the Farmer’s Arms in Poynton, on a regular basis. I make all the cakes. I have a really full diary teaching people how to bake at Seasoned Cookery School and Cheshire Cookery School, as well as working at many of the food festivals around the country this Summer and Autumn. My Summer and Autumn schedule can be seen on my website www.luistroyano.com.
How did your love of food come about, and when did you decide to start baking?
My parents moved to the UK from Spain in the 1960s. Being brought up in a Spanish household meant food has always played an important part in my life. My Father worked front of house in restaurants. At about the age of 12, to earn pocket money, I worked in the restaurant after school. My job was to wash the glasses but I was always fascinated watching the Chefs. I think that whole combination gave me a passionate love of food.
I also spent about six weeks in Spain every year with my Mum’s family. So that Mediterranean upbringing definitely influences my cooking and baking now.
I got into baking about eight years ago. I’m constantly blown away by how many things can be made from four basic base ingredients; flour, eggs, sugar and butter. The pleasure I get from baking for family and friends is unbelievable. Baking is a completely relaxing pastime and allows me to be creative as well as make people happy.
And how did the idea to write this book come about?
My Wife always said I should write a book due to the sheer number of recipes I had come up with over the years. I never expected it to become a reality though. I was surprised how easy writing a recipe book came to me, especially as I had never done it before. I really wanted to write a recipe book from the ground up and it presumes nothing about the reader’s knowledge. It goes into real detail on how to not only make the cakes, but how to bake them to perfection and then give them finishing show stopping looks. All my recipes show the reader how to prevent failure as there is nothing worse. I was really excited to include a chapter on Spanish baking and include some old family recipes. It’s something we just don’t know that much about over here in the UK. I’ve also included a chapter on honey as I keep bees and it’s such a fab ingredient.
How and when did you get into Beekeeping?
I’ve been keeping bees for about five years now. I was always fascinated by them and went on a beekeeping course to find out more. Shortly after I got my first hive. Beekeeping is the most amazing hobby; they really are fascinating creatures and a complete joy to keep. I find it really relaxing when I go out to inspect the hives and you just forget everything else going on around you. I’m very lucky to have a constant supply of honey on hand so yes I use it lots and thought it only right to include a chapter on it in my book. It really is a great alternative to sugar and adds an extra flavour dimension.
When you’re at home, what’s your favourite thing to bake?
I’m a bread man at heart and love the whole ritual of making it. I like to see how far I can push it using different flavours and fillings. However I love pastry too, it’s really is hard to beat a great Bakewell Tart or Egg Custard Tart.
With the new series of The Great British Bake Off beginning this month, which one tip would you give to any of the show’s new contestants?
Make sure that the recipe you have planned can be done in the time allocated.
‘Bake it Great’ aside, what’s next for Luis Troyano?
Long term, I’d like my own bakery business, something I’m currently investigating. I’ve also been working on lots of new recipes and would relish writing a follow up to ‘Bake It Great’.
Bake it Great will be available from August 20th, published by Pavillion.