More than just a baker

in Food and Drink · 08-11-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Former Bake Off star Liam Charles chats to Lauren Taylor about overcoming insecurities, exceeding expectations and showing his savoury side.

Almost no graduates land a glittering dream career straight out of university, and Liam Charles can't quite believe his luck.

But it probably comes as no surprise to many others. The Great British Bake Off quarter-finalist - smiley, humble and a natural in front of the camera - instantly won hearts on the show in 2017, and at just 19 was one of the youngest contestants the series had ever seen.

The former drama student only graduated from Goldsmiths University last December, yet he's had more TV work since Bake Off than many of the show's winners - being a judge on Bake Off: The Professionals two years running ("insane") and Junior Bake Off this year, as well as hosting his own six-part series Liam Bakes, last year. Now, he's published his second cookbook - Second Helpings.

Second Helpings is packed with comfort food, generous sharing meals, lighter salads, soups and juices and, of course, loads of pudding - yet almost always with a creative twist. There's a cottage cheeseburger pie, a chicken katsu doughnut, and a dessert lasagne.

It's also written exactly how Charles comes across in real life - so laid-back he's almost horizontal - with plenty of personality: "Eye-ball the quantities", "Cut a naughty wedge", "All the party-goers are going to come to you for that doner".

He says: "My style's pretty laid-back when it comes to savoury stuff, but when it comes to sweet treats, it's expressive and it's very personal. Every recipe that I try to make has to have a personal connection because if I don't have that, there's no point in doing it. It's like a baby, you see it grow and you have a genuine attachment to it."

Sea Dogs

A fishy version of a classic.

"If hot dogs lived in the ocean, this is what they would look and taste like," Liam Charles says of this invention - his take on a traditional favourite.

Here's how to whip them up...


(Serves 4)

For the crabby patties:

240g white crab meat

4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped

30g fresh coriander, leaves finely chopped

2tbsp sesame seeds

100g fresh breadcrumbs

2 large egg yolks

Plain flour, for dusting

2tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

Fine sea salt, to taste

Cracked black pepper, to taste

For the prawns:

150g raw king prawns

2tbsp vegetable oil

1tsp chilli powder

1tsp smoked paprika

1tsp garlic granules

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp dried mixed herbs

1/2tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the lime jalapeno mayo

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

6tbsp mayo

Grated zest of 1 lime

Grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

To serve:

4 large hot dog buns, split in half lengthways and lightly toasted

1/2 ripe mango, peeled and thinly sliced

Lime wedges, for squeezing


1. Crabby patties: Bung the crab, spring onions and half the coriander into a large bowl. Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, then tip them into the bowl of crab. Add the breadcrumbs along with the egg yolks, season with salt and pepper, and give it a light mix. Shape the mixture into 12 patties, pop them on a plate and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Time to fry: Mix the prawns in a bowl with the oil and spices and set aside for 10 minutes. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add the prawns and fry until they become pink and are cooked through, then remove them from the pan.

3. Lightly dust your crab patties with flour, place the frying pan back over the heat, add the oil then add half the patties and fry them gently over a medium-low heat for three to four minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil, then fry the remaining patties.

4. Mayo: Mix the jalapeno with the mayo, lime and lemon in a bowl and set to one side.

5. Assemble: Spread each bun with some jalapeno mayo followed by a couple of slices of mango, three crab patties, then some of the prawns. Drizzle over more of the jalapeno mayo and top with the remaining prawns. Sprinkle with the rest of the coriander and finish off with a cheeky squeeze of lime.

Cauliflower show salad

Take your salads into autumn with this hearty recipe.

Whoever said salads aren't indulgent and satisfying hasn't tried one of Liam Charles' concoctions. In this one, little cauliflower nuggets are deep-fried and drizzled in a blue cheese dressing.


(Serves 4)

For the blue cheese dressing:

100g mayo

100g soured cream

100ml buttermilk

140g blue cheese, crumbled

2tsp fresh lemon juice

1tsp garlic granules

For the nugget sauce:

130g gochujang (red chilli paste)

65ml dark soy sauce

3tbsp runny honey

3tbsp water

For the cauliflower nuggets:

Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

180g plain flour

1tsp fine sea salt

1tsp cracked black pepper

1/2tsp cayenne pepper

1/2tsp smoked paprika

2 large eggs

1 large cauliflower head, cut into nugget-sized florets

3tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

3tbsp chopped chives

For the salad:

4 bunches of romaine lettuce, chopped

4 carrots, julienned

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

150g walnuts, toasted


1. Blue cheese dressing: Put the mayo, soured cream, buttermilk and 100g of the blue cheese in the bowl of a food-processor or in a blender, add the lemon juice and garlic and blitz until smooth. Transfer to a squeezy bottle or bowl and chill.

2. The nuggets: Combine all the ingredients for the nugget sauce in a saucepan, place over a low heat and heat until it starts to simmer. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

3. Pour sunflower oil in the deep-fat fryer up to the safety markers and heat to 170°C. If you don't have a deep-fat fryer, use a large saucepan (filling the pan by no more than two-thirds) and a food thermometer instead. (If you don't have a thermometer, chuck a piece of cauliflower into the oil and if it bubbles and floats, the oil's ready.)

4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne and smoked paprika together, and in another bowl whisk the eggs. Dip some cauliflower florets into the eggs, then toss them in the flour mixture until well coated. Place on a plate and repeat with the rest of the cauliflower. Line a large tray with kitchen paper.

5. Deep-frying: Working in batches, fry the cauliflower nuggets in the hot oil for about seven minutes, until golden brown. Remove the nuggets using a slotted spoon and put them on the paper-lined tray.

6. Toss: Transfer the cauliflower nuggets to a large bowl, pour the nugget sauce over them, toss until well coated, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds and chives.

7. Salad assembly: Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, give everything a good mix, then set aside until ready to serve.

8. Assemble: Place the salad on a serving dish, top the salad with the cauliflower nuggets and a generous squiggle of blue cheese dressing, then sprinkle over the remaining crumbled blue cheese.

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Think you need a machine to make ice cream? Nope.

"I love making ice cream from scratch," says Liam Charles. "Starting with a custard, infusing it with flavours, cooling it, then churning it until the cow's milk comes home, but sometimes you need something a little quicker, a lot easier, but just as tasty."

All you need for this recipe is a loaf tin.


(Serves 8)

90g white chocolate, chopped

800ml double cream

500g condensed milk

Grated zest of 4 limes and juice of 3

300g lime curd

200g ginger biscuits, crushed

To finish:

100g ginger biscuits, roughly broken

50g white chocolate, melted

Grated zest of 1 lime


1. Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water) or in a microwave in 20-second bursts. Let it cool.

2. Whisk the double cream and condensed milk in a bowl until the mixture forms soft peaks. Fold through the melted chocolate, the lime zest and lime juice gently with a metal spoon until well combined.

3. Pour half of the cream mixture into the loaf tin and dot half of the lime curd on top. Using a skewer or spoon, swirl the curd through the cream so it is rippled with streaks of curd, then sprinkle half the crushed ginger biscuits over the mixture. Top with the remaining cream mixture, ripple through the remaining curd, then top with the rest of the crushed ginger biscuits.

4. Cover with cling film and freeze for at least seven hours, or ideally overnight.

5. Once you're ready to serve, place the roughly broken ginger biscuits on top, squiggle with melted white chocolate and sprinkle over the lime zest.

Second Helpings: 70 Wicked Recipes That Will Leave You Wanting More by Liam Charles is published by Hodder & Stoughton. Available now.


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