Toby Waterworth interview and recipe
PUBLISHED: 12:44 10 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:19 26 October 2015
Great British Bake Off’s Toby Waterworth lures readers and editor Jan Raycroft with his Christmas tarts after Mary Berry had to say ‘No’ to his somewhat unusual Angel Cake
We’ve all had those cringe moments that leave one thinking ‘Why on earth did I do that?’ Fortunately, very few of us have our blips exposed to an avid audience of millions.
But for Toby Waterworth that’s what happened on The Great British Bake Off.
Having got through the BBC show’s rigorous application process from 13,000 keen amateur cooks, Toby joined a dozen other contestants ready for the scrutiny of experts Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood and the critical viewers glued to the box.
The technical challenge of producing Mary’s Angel Cake, to go alongside his spiced and iced carrot cake and showstopper of tiered chocolate for the first episode should have been a cinch for Toby. At 30, the freelance web programmer from Woodley, Berkshire, had been baking for most of his life.
But he did something so inexplicable and uncharacteristic that Toby knew before the announcement that he would be leaving the show at the earliest stage: he mistook salt for sugar when lining the cake tin. The result was a cake with a rather unfortunate taste, with Hollywood advising Berry to avoid it.
Over a lovely pub lunch in the Duke of Wellington, Twyford, with all the right ingredients, Toby is now able to laugh at this ‘curl up and die’ moment. Indeed, the merriment is such that we both end up with tears in our eyes. In pretend ‘headmistress mode’ I demand to know what on earth he thought he was up to.
“That was an absolutely ridiculous thing to do, particularly, you know, when someone did it in a previous year,” chuckles Toby. “It’s something I probably wouldn’t repeat in goodness knows how many attempts, but there it is – I did it. My head said, ‘Ah, okay, sugar’, so I used what was in the bowl and somehow blanked that it was salt.”
Then there were the knives where he seemed close to chopping off fingers, but wasn’t the only contestant in need of sticking plasters: “The professional knives are really sharp. You think you have sharp knives at home until you are using the real thing and are unfamiliar with them,” he explains.
He goes through the technicalities and dilemma of whether to line the tin or not, and how something over-rode his instincts. “But once it was done I knew my time was up. Afterwards I had this memory of a sympathetic Mary Berry ruffling my hair, but wasn’t sure that really happened until I saw it on television.”
With a shy, winning grin and doe eyes, Toby seeks a sign of similar understanding from me. “I’m a bit of a mummy’s boy,” he suggests. So I decide to adopt him on the spot, with his new aunty and photographer Maureen McLean, and we will eat as many of his cakes as possible.
What’s more we will get our readers to share this trust, hence the exclusive recipe on these pages, with all the pinches of salt in the right places.
His statement turns out to be a poignant one when you discover that Toby’s early memories are of a home filled with the lovely smells of baking. Dad David, originally from Devon, is described as ‘a scone master’ and Toby recalls following his mother Pam about when aged about five and how she taught him to cook. Sadly, Pam died from cancer in 2008 and Toby hopes that any profile he gains from appearing on the show will help to raise funds for research.
Toby’s baking skills developed so that by the time he was 10 his efforts were picking up prizes at Woodley Horticultural Show. He claims that some WI members complained that he shouldn’t be allowed entries in the adults section!
“The best bit was that if you won you got this little brown envelope with some money in, and I would spend it straight away on more ingredients.”
He’s kept in touch with the other Bake Off contestants, enjoying a ‘sleep over’ with seven others at the home of Christine Wallace in Didcot (she fell at the quarter final stage when a meringue failed to impress), where each brought one of their amateur baking treats to the party.
Now it’s your turn to follow an exclusive recipe Toby has created for readers. He’s tested the ingredients and method several times at home, we’ve eaten the results. Enjoy!
Keep in touch with Toby on Twitter at @bake_down – join his 6,000 followers.
Recipe - Spiced Orange Brownie Tartlets
This is a delightfully indulgent and versatile recipe that allows you to flavour according to mood or occasion. Here the celebration of Christmas is invoked with orange zest and warming spices. You could easily omit these for a simple but lovely chocolate tart, or instead add a layer of sea-salted caramel or fruit. Feel free to buy a good-quality butter pastry. You can serve the tart with cream or ice cream.
230g plain flour
115g very cold unsalted butter
50g golden caster sugar
1 egg + 1 yolk, beaten
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
Orange Caramel Sauce:
Juice of 2 large scrubbed oranges, Zest of 1
Juice of 1 lemon
75g golden caster sugar
Knob of unsalted butter
75g 75% dark chocolate, chopped
110g lightly beaten egg
65g golden caster sugar
30g soft dark brown sugar
15g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
Zest ½ scrubbed large orange
4 x 9-10 cm loose-bottom tart tins
To make the pastry, dice the butter and rub into the flour, salt and sugar with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs. Mix in the egg and the vanilla with a knife using a cutting motion until it starts to form wet clumps, then carefully bring together into a ball without kneading. Flatten into a disc, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for one hour.
When chilled, flour a work surface and roll out, one at a time, four pieces of dough to the thickness of a pound coin, 3mm. Cut out circles bigger than the tart tins and carefully push into the tins, leaving an overhang. Gently prick the pastry with a fork and line with paper or foil and baking beans/rice. Chill for 30 mins. Pre-heat oven to fan 170.
Meanwhile make the sauce by bringing all the ingredients save the butter to the boil and then simmering for 10-20 minutes until the mixture has darkened and become a viscous caramel. Stir in the knob of butter and set aside.
When chilled, bake the tarts for 15 mins, remove the beans and paper and bake for another 5-10 mins at fan 160 until the pastry is firm and slightly golden. Cool and then trim the overhang.
For the brownie mixture, melt the chocolate in a microwave in 20 second bursts. Cool. Whisk on high the egg, vanilla and sugars until light, pale and frothy, at least one minute. Carefully fold in the chocolate until fully combined, and then the remaining ingredients. Divide between the four tarts and bake for 11-13 minutes until risen and firm on top but still wobbly/squidgy within.
Serve immediately with the warmed caramel and cream/ice cream.