Expert Interview Series: David Purdon of BakingBar, About Baking and Blogging in Belfast

David Purdon, owner of BakingBar, is a leading food and home writer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. We recently had a chance to chat with David about developing new recipes, interviewing leading chefs, and making baking easier and more fun....

Making baking easier

David Purdon, owner of BakingBar, is a leading food and home writer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. We recently had a chance to chat with David about developing new recipes, interviewing leading chefs, and making baking easier and more fun.

Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you decide to start a blog?

I Initially decided to start blogging as a way of keeping track of my own recipes and keep a record of what I created. Baking has always been a passion since I was young, so it was great to see other people appreciating the recipes I enjoyed writing.

Since you're based in Belfast, could you tell us what types of foods or cuisine are popular in your area?

The food in Northern Ireland is very traditional, but Belfast in particular has been thrust into the world food scene in recent years with some amazing restaurants. Now you can find most cuisines in Belfast.

Tell us about the process of developing a new recipe. How much trial-and-error is involved before you finally have a recipe that you're ready to submit or publish?

Developing some recipes takes weeks or even months. It is fairly easy to get an idea for a recipe. But if it is a little less traditional, it can take a lot trial and error to get the recipe just right. No recipe can't be made better or altered in some way, so it's a constant process of improvement.

Since you've interviewed quite a few "top chefs" for your blog, could you tell us what that most or all of these master chefs have in common?

The most common trait of the top chefs we have interviewed is their dedication to their field. A lot of chefs have started at the very bottom as plate washers and kitchen porters, and they spent years watching their head chefs at work. They persist at what they want to do and eventually work their way to the very top. I truly believe if you work in an industry you love, then you will thrive and grow with every year you spend doing it.

Since your blog has been promoting cookery classes over the last few years, could you tell us what types of cooking or cuisine are the most popular with people who are interested in these classes?

It will be no surprise that the most popular cookery classes which we get requests for are cupcake classes. Everyone wants to know how to make beautiful cupcakes and decorate them. The secret is that it's not that difficult once you know the simple processes to follow.

Do you mind sharing one of your favorite original recipes that your friends can never get enough of?

This Jam and Coconut Sponge recipe is both our favorite and all our friends' favorite, too. It reminds everyone of school when it was served with custard. The flavor works so well - and the smell is divine!

The Ingredients:

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla extract/essence
  • 175g NEILL'S® self-raising flour
  • half a jar of your favorite strawberry jam
  • 100g desiccated coconut

Recommended Equipment:

  • food mixer (recommend Sage Appliances Scraper Mixer Pro)
  • Le Creuset loaf tin
  • Pyrex mixing bowls
  • Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Scale
  • spatula

The How-To:

  1. Preheat oven to 180c.
  2. Lightly grease a loaf tin.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together on high speed until light and pale.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  6. Fold in the sieved flour.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin. Spread out evenly.
  8. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool for 15 mins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
  10. Once cool, cover with the strawberry jam, ensuring the cake is well covered.
  11. Sprinkle the top and sides with the desiccated coconut. Press the coconut lightly against the cake to help it stick. Store in an airtight tin or box.

When you are cooking or baking in the kitchen, what are the utensils, tools, or other items that you simply cannot live without?

A lot of people say that a stand mixer isn't necessary for any recipe. That is technically true. But it takes so much work out of a tiring part of baking. If you can afford a good stand mixer, then it's a great choice for a budding baker.

Need a new stand mixer? Check out our selection today!