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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

UK & World

Baker keeping recipe for Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake under wraps

March 20 2018

Royal wedding cake baker Claire Ptak is keeping her recipe for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day under wraps for now.Ms Ptak, who has been labelled London’s hippest baker, is known for making indulgent organic bakes decorated with delicate flowers.She has even been named as Jamie Oliver’s favourite cake maker.Oliver commissioned her to make a mocha gluten-free birthday cake for his wife Jools last year.Harry and Ms Markle have opted for a lemon elderflower cake covered in buttercream.Pastry chef Ms Ptak might take inspiration from a lemony recipe which belongs to her mother.The owner of the trendy Violet Bakery in Hackney, east London, has written of Elisabeth Ptak’s “legendary lemon bars”.The recipe features in Leon: Baking & Puddings, which Ms Ptak co-wrote.She recommends using Californian Meyer or Amalfi lemons and describes the treat as “sharp and gooey with a sharp finish”.An article to which Ms Ptak contributed in The Guardian on the five best birthday cakes saw her recommend a red velvet one, which she was taught to make by her grandmother.The piece also featured a lemon and elderflower drizzle cake by cook and food writer Rosie Reynolds, with ingredients including lemons, elderflower cordial, full-fat cream cheese and double cream.It was decorated with edible flowers, sprigs of lemon thyme and lemon zest.Ms Markle is known to be a fan of peonies, which will be in bloom at the time of her May 19 wedding, and Ms Ptak has used peonies on her stylish wedding cakes in the past.Celebrity Masterchef winner Lisa Faulkner’s recipe for elderflower, lemon and poppy seed layered cake uses Belvoir Elderflower Cordial and the finely grated zest of three lemons in the mix, as well as 10 eggs, unsalted butter, caster sugar, self-raising flour and poppy seeds.Cordial is used again in the buttercream icing.Unlike a rich fruit cake, which needs to be made well in advance and will keep ahead of the day, Harry and Ms Markle’s lemon elderflower cake, with its fresh buttercream icing, will be crafted shortly before the May 19 wedding.Harry’s father the Prince of Wales and stepmother the Duchess of Cornwall were presented with a lemon and Cornish elderflower sponge cake last summer.On a visit to Porthleven in Cornwall in July, Charles and Camilla cut into two lemon and elderflower cakes – one depicting the Prince’s Highgrove House and the other a five-tier cake in the colour of the Duchess’s 2005 wedding outfit.They were made by Phil and Christine Jenson, who run luxury cake makers Peboryon.The cakes were described by the firm as “layers of light and zesty lemon sponge” with “buttercream laced with wild Cornish elderflower curd”.

Food & Drink

Baking is in Iain’s D-ough NA

February 18 2017

There’s nothing quite like the smell of baking bread as seventh generation baker Iain Campbell can testify. Born and “bread” in Crieff, Iain has run the family bakery, with shops in Comrie and Crieff, since 1994. .Now he is aiming to teach a whole new generation of bakers at his new bake school, the first in Scotland. Established in 1830 in Callander by Iain’s great-great-great-great grandfather, Campbell’s is one of Scotland’s oldest bakeries. “Being the son of a baker, I never had any other thoughts for a career other than following in the footsteps of my father,” he says. “There was never any pressure, it just felt like the natural thing to do. My earliest memories involve being in the bakehouse on Sunday mornings with my dad, Jim, watching him pipe out meringues and finish off birthday cakes. It was quite mesmerising for a young child. “I also vividly remember calling into the bakehouse on my way to school and walking along the road with a freshly baked hot pie in my hand.” It was in 1830 that Iain’s great-great-great-great grandfather Donald Campbell baked his first batch of bread in Callander. In 1929, newlyweds, Bob and Cathy Campbell, Iain’s grandparents, moved to Crieff to run the bakery business that was purchased for them as a wedding present. “Back then few people had a car so our family drove a van twice a day to the outlying farms and houses as well as to some of the small hotels and guest houses in the town,” says Iain. “The morning run delivered mainly bread and rolls, whereas scones and teabread were the staples for the afternoon run. Surprisingly, despite all the faddy diets and international influences, our best sellers of 1929 – morning rolls and scotch pies – are still popular today,” he continues. 1929 was also the year of the Wall Street crash and although Crieff was a world away from the New York Stock Exchange, life was decidedly more austere than it is now. “My granny and her two sisters would preach: ‘Waste not, want not, pick it up and eat it!’ to me and my sisters while we were growing up,” Iain recalls. Iain, whose one essential kitchen gadget is a reliable set of scales, loves the whole bread making process. “Making bread is baking at its simplest. Four ingredients can give you an amazingly tasty and satisfying loaf. I like moulding it, kneading it, shaping and the smell when it comes out of the oven,” he smiles. As well as bread and rolls, Iain sells a whole range of timeless classics, including oatcakes (in a range of flavours), Selkirk bannocks, shortbread and cakes and pastries. With programmes like The Great British Bake Off putting artisan producers in the spotlight, he has recently branched out to establish a bake school held on Saturday afternoons. “For the last few years I have been teaching a bread masterclass for secondary pupils at the local high school,” he explains. “And I’ve also trained two apprentices to win Young Scottish Baker of the Year in 2009 and 2014. “It was my wife Ailsa who came up with the idea of a bake school and we’re both really excited about the whole project,” he smiles. “Baking is in my DNA, and something I love to share,” says Iain, whose one essential kitchen gadget is a reliable set of scales. “Making bread is baking at its purest. Four ingredients can give you an amazingly tasty and satisfying loaf. I like moulding it, kneading it, shaping and the smell when it comes out of the oven,” he smiles. “I hope the classes are good fun for the participants and they take away new knowledge. It would be great to inspire a few to try baking as a career. The baking industry is always in need of new blood so fingers crossed for the next generation of bakers.” At the moment class size is limited to five spaces but Iain and Ailsa, who are involved in efforts to regenerate Crieff town centre, hope to eventually expand into the derelict Strathearn Hotel next door and create an amenity that will benefit the whole town. “It’s my dream to create a tourist-worthy visitor experience in Crieff,” he says. “I hope the classes are good fun for participants and they take away new knowledge. I also hope to inspire a few to try baking as a career. The baking industry is always in need of new blood so fingers crossed for the next generation of bakers.”   Campbell’s is still a real family affair with graphic designer Ailsa looking after the marketing and window displays, and Iain’s two sisters Fiona and Alison both very hands on. And Iain’s kids Isla, 13, and nine-year-old Hamish, look set to become eighth generation bakers. “They love helping in the bakery,” smiles Iain. For more info on Campbell’s Bake School, £80 per person, visit www.campbellsbakery.com  

UK & World

Special installation for Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake, baker reveals

May 18 2018

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s “ethereal” tasting wedding cake will be displayed in a special installation, their baker has revealed.Claire Ptak, who is making the culinary centrepiece for the couple’s big day, said the layered lemon and elderflower cake – in three parts of varying sizes – would be presented in a non-traditional way.The final design will be unveiled on the big day although Meghan and Harry are in on the plans.“You’ll have to wait and see on the day. It’s an installation of the way that we’re putting it out. It’s the last thing that we’ll reveal. It’s a non-traditional layout,” Ms Ptak said.“It’s a slight shift from tradition.”The chef, who owns the small, trendy Violet Bakery in east London, has been working with her team of six bakers full time for five days in the large kitchens of Buckingham Palace. She described the flavour of the cake as being a balance of sweet and tart, combined with “ethereal” elderflower.The cake, which is being decorated on the outside with a white, elderflower swiss meringue buttercream, is made of layered lemon sponge, drizzled with an elderflower syrup to a recipe specially created for the couple.The layers are sandwiched with buttercream and lemon curd.Some 200 Amalfi lemons are being used in the recipe, as well as 10 bottles of Sandringham Elderflower Cordial made using elderflower from the Queen’s Sandringham estate, 20kgs of butter, 20 kgs of flour, 20kgs of sugar and 500 organic eggs from Suffolk.Ms Ptak said: “It’s a lemon sponge – a special sponge that I developed just for the couple, and we drizzle the layers with elderflower cordial from the Sandringham estate so it’s really lovely and as local as you can get.“We have a lemon curd made from Amalfi lemons which to me have the most delicious flavour.“And then we’ve got elderflower swiss meringue buttercream.”She added: “The buttercream is sweet and the lemon curd is very tart so you get a very lovely thing happening when you take a bite, which is to get all of these flavours and sensations perfectly balanced.”Ms Ptak, who is American like Ms Markle, said; “The elderflower is so quintessentially British to me as a Californian.“It’s of this moment. It’s May so they’re just opening this week.“It’s a kind of an ethereal, floral flavour which I think is very special, especially for a wedding.”Slices of the cake will be served to the 600 guests at the lunchtime reception in St George’s Hall after the ceremony.Three types of Meghan’s favourite flowers peonies – Madame Claude, Bowl of Cream, and the aptly titled Duchess – in shades of white and cream will decorate the cakes, along with four different white and cream roses – Patience, Purity, Jeanne Moreau and Princess Miyuki.The flowers will be removed before guests tuck in to the cake, but the slices will be served with edible rose petals.The team from Violet Bakery, who were dressed in matching white polo necks, khaki trousers and cream aprons, have been working busily in the well quipped palace kitchen.Ms Ptak, who was on Thursday removing one of the circular cakes from its large tin, before beginning to ice it with buttercream, was helped by Violet Bakery’s head baker Izaak Adams.She added of how the baking was going: “There’s a few logistics of serving so many people at the same time. But it’s been a great process.”She said Harry and Meghan loved the lemon and elderflower cake after trying a number of different samples.“They loved it. They tried quite a collection.“What they said to me is that they really loved the idea of the seasonality and the freshness.”Ms Ptak is not making a back up cake in case of a disaster, saying: “It’s cake. It can’t go that wrong.“We have enough cake and we don’t want to be wasteful. Anything that is left over, we were going to donate to charity.”The chef had to call in some of her former workers to have enough staff to work on the cake and keep her bakery open.Part of the cake is still being baked and iced.It will be transported to Windsor Castle where the flowers will be added, and the installation assembled on the morning of the wedding.

Perth & Kinross

Great British Bake Off: Storm in a souffle over Marie’s French training

August 10 2015

Great British Bake Off favourite Marie Campbell was trained by professionals at a top French cookery school, it has emerged. The Perthshire candidate, who is tipped to win the hit BBC competition, studied at the renowned Ecole Escoffier at the Ritz in Paris, where she specialised in patisserie. And when she returned to Scotland, she opened her own online bakery business Mrs Campbell’s cupcakes at her home in Auchterarder. The 66-year-old also ran the award-winning Duisdale House Hotel and restaurant on the Isle of Skye. Details previously released by the programme makers stated that Marie had “come a long way since she couldn’t boil an egg” and said that she was “inspired” to bake by the patisseries in Paris when she moved there with her family 30 years ago. In an interview with the Radio Times, Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood said of the contestants: “Crucially they’re not formally trained, they learnt in their own kitchen.” Yesterday, the BBC was forced to defend its decision to select Marie as a candidate and insisted that no rules were broken. A spokeswoman for the corporation said Marie still qualified for the show because she was never a professional baker. Although she ran her own cupcake business, it was not her main source of income. The BBC added that although she owned the hotel, she employed a chef in the kitchen while her role was limited to baking scones for guests. “There are strict criteria to taking part in the show and Marie met that criteria. She gained a certificate for one week’s training in Paris in 1984,” she added. Marie declined to comment but confirmed that Love Productions, which makes the show, knew about the patisserie training. The entry form for the series states that contestants must not have any professional catering qualifications acquired within the last 10 years. They cannot ever have worked full time as a baker, cook or chef. Those whose main source of income derives “from commercial baking in a professional environment” are also barred. Betting on the Bake Off was suspended last week when the name of this year’s winner was reportedly leaked.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Search is on for top baker

April 1 2015

Judging got under way in Dunfermline in this year’s Scottish Baker of the Year competition. In the past few months 23,000 Scots have voted for their cakes and tarts. And yesterday more than 170 bakers delivered more than 600 of their goodies to the judging panel of 50 expert and independent tasters. Scottish Bakers’ chief executive Alan Clarke’s was expecting hundreds of scones, loaves, rolls and cakes to give head judge Robert Ross and his team a long day of deliberation. Part of the team was writer and scone fan Sara Sheridan, who said: “I travel all the time, mostly to attend book festivals, and everywhere I go I take myself off to sample the local scones. “Scones are my favourite you can keep your cake.” Last year George Asher, of family-owned Asher’s Bakery, won the contest. “Since winning, our business has gone from strength to strength and we have been able to share our success with all of our customers by continuing to provide the best baked goods day in and day out,” he said. The winners will be announced in May by celebrity cake designer Mich Turner.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire bakery rises to challenge for top award

April 18 2014

A family-run bakery is going for gold at a major industry competition. Customers of the Breadalbane Bakery and Tearoom in Aberfeldy have helped it to secure a coveted accolade. The popular business has made it to the finals of the Scottish Baker of the Year contest. The bakery’s bridie and white loaf were both hailed by expert judges and have been selected in the top three of their region. Now the Morris family will head en masse to the main event in Glasgow on May 17, when they will find out if they have won gold, silver or bronze. Lynda Morris told The Courier they were “amazed” to have made it on to the shortlist for the awards. Her parents, Bob and Maureen, took over the bakery several years ago and have been welcomed by the community. She said: “Last year we were nominated for our fruit scones, which we were highly commended for. “This year, our customers nominated us in four different categories and we were delighted to make it this far.” Ms Morris revealed that the recipe for their award-winning bridies actually came from John Young, the previous owner of Breadalbane Bakery and a judge at the Scottish Baker competition. She went on: “We are amazed we have got this far because none of us are from a baking background. We are really pleased that our customers think so highly of us because what they want is the most important thing.” Alongside their fellow finalists, they will be judged on a national level and could be named one of Scotland’s best bakers. Meanwhile, two other Perthshire bakeries also enjoyed success on judging day. The Tower Bakery and Murray’s of Perth were both highly commended for their sausage rolls and scotch pies respectively. A spokesperson from the Tower Bakery said they were “delighted” with the accolade. In Falkirk, Marshall’s Family Bakers were also highly commended for their empire biscuit. As part of the Scottish Baker of the Year awards, more than 20,000 customers from across Scotland voted for their favourite products. A panel of 40 expert and independent judges spend a day scrutinising almost 600 scones, loaves, savoury items, morningrolls, cakes and biscuits to pick three finalists in each category. Scottish Bakers chief executive Alan Clarke said: “We took delivery of hundreds of excellent products made by bakers right across Scotland and every single product was anonymously judged by a team of judges, led by head judge Robert Ross. “Scottish bakers have once again done us proud. “We were very impressed with the high standard of the products they produce every day and to get a highly commended is a recognition of the overall quality of the baking provided by the company,” added Mr Clarke.

Perth & Kinross

Perth’s Great Parish Bake Off invites everyone to turn up and tuck in

August 29 2015

Perth will come alive to the smell of mouth-watering cakes, jams and bread courtesy of the Great Parish Bake Off today. Churches across the region and Perth YMCA have joined together to deliver the spectacular Perth Alive Festival on the North Inch from noon until 4.30pm. The heat will be turned up at this year’s event when in addition to live music, sports, giant inflatables, puppets and children’s activities bakers from around Perthshire present their delicacies for judging in the Great Parish Bake Off. Members of 13 churches have been battling it out in heats over the past two months, with each church submitting the best entries for the final, being held during the Perth Alive Festival. The Great Parish Bake Off was the brainchild of Becky Erskine from Craigie and Moncreiffe Church of Scotland. She said: “This is a wonderful way of uniting churches and organisations across Perthshire. “People greatly enjoy the challenges of baking and this is a fantastic way to embrace skill, talent and celebrate community spirit. “By kind donation, the entrants have offered the sale of their bakes at the end of the festival, so many people will be able to sample the best home baking Perthshire churches have to offer.” Judges for the Great Parish Bake Off will include Provost of Perth and Kinross Liz Grant and the head baker from Perth’s Murrays the Bakers, Colin Laing. Murrays is the 2015 World Scotch Pie champion. The panel will be rounded off by the head pastry chef at 63 Tay Street one of only 15 restaurants in Scotland to hold the Eat Scotland Gold Award Lee Steele. Provost Liz Grant said “This is a marvellous community event and I look forward very much to the challenge of judging the bake off.” Among the musicians taking part in the festival is acclaimed singer songwriter Steph Macleod. There will also be the opportunity to listen to an international choir made up of young people who are attending a bible school in Perth over the summer. Entry to the festival is free and everyone is welcome, whether they attend church or not.

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.