Baking Aid: Top 10 Hazardous Bakes

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As somebody who is obsessed with baking, I have spent countless hours in the kitchen, so when it comes to kitchen safety I admit I’ve learnt the hard way. Practicing new techniques, recipes and equipment while exciting, has come at a price and I can prove that with the scars on my knuckles and arms. I like to think of them as my war wounds that could tell a thousand stories.

However, on a serious note with 26% of us feeling inspired to get baking since the latest series of GBBO it’s becoming more important to raise awareness of what potential hazards could be faced, especially when I read that almost 65% of Brit Bakers have injured themselves whilst baking. So when I was asked by National Accident Helpline to partner with them on a post to raise awareness of Accident Awareness Week I jumped at the opportunity.

The most common baking blunders are known as scalds, burns and cuts but it’s not always obvious what type of bake can cause these injuries, so I’ve put together a list of my Top 10 Hazardous Bakes and provided advice on how to avoid injury to yourself and those around you.

For more information about Accident Awareness Week (31st October – 6th November) visit: https://www.national-accident-helpline.co.uk/accident-claims/accident-awareness-week

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Caramel/Toffee

It’s so easy to burn yourself when baking caramel or toffee, but you can take steps to look out for yourself. The heated sugar is prone to splatter, make sure you wear long sleeves, an apron and an oven glove when handling the pan. You could keep a bowl of cold water nearby to plunge your hand into should the sugar splatter you at all.


Honeycomb

Honeycomb starts life as a form of caramel so you should be extra cautious when stirring the pot. However, once the bicarbonate of soda is added, the caramel expands to almost double the size. To avoid a molten honeycomb overflow it is vital to ensure the pot you are using is big enough.


Donuts

Baking donuts requires plunging your risen balls of dough into cooking oil at temperatures of up to 191oC. Temperatures this high can easily start fires or cause serious third degree burns. To cook them carefully you should always add the oil to a cold, clean and dry fryer. Avoid letting water come into contact with the bubbling oil at all costs as this will make the oil splatter, which can burn the skin.


Chopping nuts

It goes without saying that nuts and knifes aren’t the best combination. But you can prevent nasty accidents by using other methods. You could pour them into a zip lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin, or blitz them in a food processor. Should you only have a knife to hand, keep your fingers away from the blade by placing the palm of your hand at the top of the knife to keep the nut you are chopping stable.


Citrus Curd

I wish the tiny scars on my knuckles and finger tips told much more exciting tales but truth be told, the majority of them are down to a cheese grater. I love making lemon curd and enjoy zesting citrus, but I’m yet to go through the process without scraping my fingers. The best way to avoid such incidence would be to wear silicone gloves and hold the citrus fruit with your knuckles facing away from the grater blades.


Crème Brûlée

There’s a good reason we use one when melting sugar toppings for Crème Brûlée and browning meringue pies, and that’s because they blast out intense heat to do the job in seconds. This kind of intense heat is not something you want in contact with skin or any loose clothing. It is key you ensure the safety lock is on when not in use and that any sleeves are rolled up, tea towels are removed from your working area and aprons are tied tightly.


Dumplings

When making dumplings steam may try to escape by spitting out. Check on them at the wrong moment and this hot steam could spit out onto your face or neck. Burns caused by steam can be really serious, as steam can actually penetrate the skin, leaving lifelong scars. To prevent this from happening always open the lid of the steamer away from you and use oven gloves and tongs to move the dumplings around.


Marshmallow

Making marshmallow much like other sugar syrup recipes is an easy process, but you need to take care to prevent injury. Under no circumstance should the sugar be touched directly. Instead use a sugar thermometer and always use heat-safe utensils like wooden spoons to prevent burning your hands on metal handles. When you transfer the syrup into your electric mixer bowl pour slowly, to avoid hot splatters and raise the speed slowly until it’s well combined.


Using Freestanding Mixers

They’re beautiful kitchen top accessories and the perfect kitchen assistant, but in series 3 of Great British Bake Off Bake Off Winner John Whaite showed how hazardous electric mixers can be when he sliced is finger open mid-way through his Strudel Show Stopper. Quite often recipes will call for you to add ingredients while the mixer is still going, so it is vital that you act cautiously and keep your fingers as far away from the blade as possible. You can also use a spoon or a long cocktail stick (for colour or flavor pastes) where possible to add ingredients.


Crepe Suzette

Adding a little alcohol to a dish is a great way to boost flavour and if you’re feeling flashy doing this via flambé can also provide a great source of dinner party entertainment. But you should never add the alcohol directly from the bottle, as flames could enter the bottle causing it to explode. Instead add the alcohol to the pan off the heat. TV Chefs demonstrate flambé by tilting the pan over a gas flame to ignite the alcohol, but they’re professionals so this method is to be avoided at all costs. When returning the pan to the flame, make sure you stand back as the flame will be higher than you think. Turning off your extractor fan is also advised as this can draw flames up. After 30 seconds the flame should have died out naturally leaving you free to get in closer and serve.


Coffee Honeycomb

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Autumn has finally arrived, the leaves are crisp the air is cool, the sky is blue and I am as happy as a dog with two tails. Yesterday was the very first Sunday in my new house where I didn’t have a paintbrush in one hand and a piece of sandpaper in the other and the only way I know how to celebrate such a lift triumph is to bake.

I rose smugly from the sheets of my brand new Next Home bed, slipped into my Sunday comfies, swapped the paintbrush for my wooden spoon and baked my butt away – it was my favourite day of the year.

Honeycomb is a seasonal regular in my kitchen and by seasonal I mean I only ever tend to bake it at this time of year. There’s something nostalgic about it that reminds me of Guy Faulkes night. Maybe the crunch sounds like fireworks in my head I don’t know, but I’ve never found it necessary to make it any other time than now.

I’m not one to ruin something that’s already perfect but as I’ve made this more than a few times before I thought this time I’d change it up a bit to see what other flavours work well. I’ve wanted to try Coffee for a while now so thought I’d test this with a subtle amount. It took a few attempts but I think I eventually managed to find the right balance. Let me know what you think?

The biggest piece of advice I could give when making honeycomb is to use a much bigger pot than you think you need, and if you’re making this with children make sure they are only ‘helping’. The sugar and water will not look like much in the pan but the moment you add that bicarbonate of soda it expands to almost triple the size. Expanding molten sugar is NOT something you want spilling across your work surface so safety first people!!

My final tip is to ensure the dish you are letting it set it is well prepped in advance. Some recipes will tell you to simply pour it out onto a sheet of lining paper but that tends to spread out quite thin and I like my HoneyComb nice and thick. Instead I opt for a large brownie tin greased with vegetable oil and lined with lining paper so it’s contained to that space and that space only.

This week it’s National Accident Awareness Week. For safety tips and advice on how to avoid hazards in the kitchen and elsewhere head over to National Accident Helpline.

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Makes 1 slab

Preparation: 15 minutes


1 tbsp vegetable oil

200g caster sugar

5 tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp espresso liquid

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda


Prepare a baking tin by greasing with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and line it with some baking parchment paper.

Pour your bicarbonate soda into a small bowl and leave to one side.

Mix the caster sugar and syrup in a large deep saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted completely. Add this stage at your coffee and stir through until fully combined.

Once the mixture is clear turn up the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. If at any stage you think it might be burning take if off the heat.

At this stage you need to move quickly. Take the pan off the heat and tip in the bicarbonate soda. Quickly beat it in with a wooden spoon until it has all disappeared and the mixture is foaming then pour it into the tin immediately being careful not to get any mixture on your hands.

The bubbling sugar will continue to expand in the tin but don’t panic as it will set pretty quickly. Simply leave it for about 1 hour until the honeycomb is hard and ready to smash with your hammer.

Once the honeycomb is cooled it’s ready to be eaten or decorated as you wish. I like my honeycomb the simple way…slathered in chocolate and I had the perfect Mocha Latte chocolate bar to use from Seed and Bean. However If this isn’t up your street then I have  some other great chocolate topping recipes for you to try below.


Espresso chocolate and Cacao nibs

200g Seed and Bean Mocha Latte chocolate

50g Cacao Nibs

Melt down 200g chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring until smooth and shiny.

Remove from the heat and dip your honeycomb slabs into it, then leave on a piece of baking parchment.

Sprinkle each piece with your cacao nibs and leave in the fridge to cool.


Dark Salted Chocolate

200g 70% chocolate

2 tbsp rock salt

Melt down 200g chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring until smooth and shiny.

Remove from the heat and dip your honey comb slabs into it, then leave on a piece of baking parchment.

Sprinkle each piece with your rock salt and leave in the fridge to cool.


Dark Chilli Chocolate

200g 70% chocolate

3 tbsp chilli flakes

Melt down 200g chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring until smooth and shiny.

Remove from the heat and dip the base of your honey comb slabs into it, then leave dipped side up on a piece of baking parchment.

Sprinkle each piece with your chilli flakes and leave in the fridge to cool.


White Chocolate and Cinnamon

200g 70% chocolate

1 tbsp Cinnamon

Melt down 200g chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring until smooth and shiny.

Remove from the heat and dip your honeycomb slabs into it, then leave on a piece of baking parchment.

Dust each piece with some cinnamon and leave in the fridge to cool.


Chocolate and almond

200g 70% chocolate

100g flaked almonds

Crush your flaked almonds in a bowl and leave to once side

Melt down 200g chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring until smooth and shiny.

Remove from the heat and dip your honeycomb slabs into it, then leave on a piece of baking parchment.

Sprinkle each piece with your almond pieces and leave in the fridge to cool.