Baking with Whitworths and Holly Bell

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A tin filled with Fruity Tiffin and Tropical Breakfast Bars

Whitworths is a British baking institution, their products having lined the pantries of many a baker or home cook since the company’s creation in 1886. The name belongs to the three Whitworth brothers, who were flour millers. In 1953, some decades after founding their mill and starting to supply flour to local bakeries, the company moved with the times and started to use the milling equipment to spin, wash and dry dried fruit – literally a revolutionary concept for the time. Think about how popular fruit cake was back then and how many dried fruit ingredients used to go into each. Whitworths were bound for new success as suppliers of specialty sugars and fruits.

Skip forward to the seventies, when Whitworths won Royal Warrants from both Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and her daughter, the Queen herself. Whitworths had now invaded the palaces of our green and pleasant  land.

Mergers and management buy-outs followed and the warrants seem to have disappeared, but nothing has shaken this firm. In 2012 it was voted the UK’s number one brand for dried fruits and is still leading the way with the extensive range of Whitworths healthy snacks, baking and cooking products.

Cue July 2015 when I was fortunate enough to join a group of food bloggers and the Whitworths crew to do a bit of baking with their products. Our tutor? Holly Bell, finalist in 2011’s Great British Bake Off and blogger at Recipes from a Normal Mum. She’s gone from strength to strength since her time spent baking under the BBC’s bright lights and now makes regular appearances on This Morning and QVC – the shopping channel.

First up – the kitchen. We were at a teaching kitchen in Wandsworth with a gigantic island and industrial-sized appliances. I lusted after the wall (yes, wall) of chrome-fronted fridges. There’s never enough room in our fridge at home and, although I love my kitchen, I have Big Fridge Envy.

We donned our bright red Whitworths aprons and took to our stations to try out a couple of Holly’s recipes. We started with Tropical Breakfast Bars, a healthy, on-the-go snack, but the one I found to be dangerously moreish was Fruity Tiffin. Here’s Holly’s take on it, with the occasional note from me:

Ingredients:

  • 50g toasted mixed nuts
  • 50g chopped apricots
  • 50g berries and cherries
  • 80g juicy raisins (go for the plumpest you can find)
  • 225g ginger nut biscuits, finely crushed
  • 150g salted butter
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 50ml golden syrup (wipe the spoon with oil first so the syrup just falls off)
  • 25g cocoa
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Note: we used Whitworths products for the first four ingredients, but they may not be available where you are, so do use your local equivalent.

Double note: you can substitute different fruits and I really like digestive biscuits in my own tiffin, so if you’re not a ginger NUT, like me, use a different biscuit.

  1. Grease and line a 20cm square tin
  2. Place the butter, sugar, syrup and cocoa into a large pan then melt over a low heat, stirring occasionally
  3. Once melted and mixed together, remove from the heat then add the biscuits and dried fruits
  4. Stir well then press into the tin, place a piece of parchment paper over the top then press and level out using your hand
  5. Melt the chocolate together either in your microwave or a bain-marie method. Stir in the oil then pour over the top of the mix
  6. Leave to set at room temperature, then cut into pieces using a sharp knife.

I made a bit of a mess of my icing, so hid the evidence beneath a sprinkling of chopped nuts. It looked SO much better afterwards, thank Heavens. A dusting of desiccated coconut would work well, too. Even better ‘cos I love coconut.

Then we popped our tiffin tins into those gorgeous, big fridges to help the setting process, as it was a muggy day. I kept mine in the fridge at home – and cool tiffin is even better than room-temperature tiffin, especially in this warm weather.

Last note from me: to make it a really GROWN UP tiffin, add a dash of sweet sherry. It works so well with the chocolate and raisins. If the mix gets too sticky as a result, just add a few more crushed bikkies before pressing it all into the tin.

**I’ll be trying out more of Holly’s baking recipes with Whitworths products as part of the #whitworthsbakingchallenge, coming soon. I’ll post my favourite recipes here, as soon as I’ve tried them out.

Useful links:

The Whitworths baking goods website

Holly Bell’s blog, Recipes from a Normal Mum

Our lovely teaching kitchen, the Milan, was one of two at Venturis Table, just around the corner from the villagey Tonsleys area of Wandsworth.

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