The phone rang. I had been invited to appear in the Hairy Bikers’ new programme, Mothers Know Best, and did I have children who cooked, the researcher wanted to know. Of course I did, and so, armed with our favourite dishes, the whole family travelled, as instructed, to a venue situated on the highest, windiest, coldest hill in the Cotswolds. The Highland cattle occupying the field had been moved to an adjacent pasture but the vast cow-pats that remained were a source of constant anxiety and laughter to the gathering guests. We were given labels to wear indicating our dishes and so I became a “Peach and Almond Kuchen” while Mervyn became “Husband of the Recipe”.
The excitement grew as Dave and Si — the Hairy Bikers — approached. Large beefy arms enfolded us with hugs and a stream of jokes put us at our ease. After chatting, we made our way to the tent where our food was displayed. I has also made my sticky toffee honey cake — my late mother’s honey cake adapted to provide more depth of flavour and moisture by including grated cooking apple and chopped dates. And after discussing their origins with a food historian, the audience tasted. Two quadruple portion cakes disappeared in seconds. I was thrilled as people clamoured for copies of the recipe. Then we were summoned to a big tent where Dave and Si performed to a packed audience, showing that they could cook as well as tell jokes.
But they returned to chat again. So like typical foodies, we talked recipes. In minutes I felt as if I had known them all of my life
Si King is a large, blond-going-grey biker from the north-west who worked for years as an assistant director and locations manager on films and television shows, including the Harry Potter movies. His food passion was sparked by his dad bringing back exotic ingredients after stints in the Royal Navy.
Dave Myers — no, despite the name he is not Jewish — was born in Barrow- in-Furness, worked as a furnace man to finance his degree and postgraduate studies in fine arts at Goldsmiths college in London. He became a make-up artist specialising in prosthetics and even won Celebrity Mastermind.
The pair met during their television work, realised they shared a love of food and became the Hairy Bikers.
Look out for these guys — two genuinely funny men with an enormous capacity for enjoyment and laughter.
Peach, almond and apple kuchen
Glorious hot out of the oven with custard, cream or ice-cream, and also freezes perfectly.
For 8 people
For the dough
● 2 level tsp dried yeast
● 150ml, 5fl oz, ¼ pint slightly warmed milk
● 1 tsp sugar
● 350g, 12oz strong bread flour
● 60g, 2oz sugar + 2 packs of vanilla sugar
● 60g, 2oz butter/margarine
● 1 medium free-range organic egg, plus beaten egg for glazing
● Rind of ½ orange and lemon
● Pinch of salt
For the filling
● 2 large Bramleys peeled, cored, chopped
● 1 tin of peaches in juice
● 125g sultanas
● 1 pack vanilla sugar
● Rind of ½ orange and lemon
● Drop almond essence
● 100g ground almonds
● 100g icing sugar
● Juice of ½ lemon
● Pecan nuts, pumpkin seeds, crystallised violets
● Warm milk, whisk in yeast, sugar and 25g of flour in bowl.
● Leave in a warm place.
● Stew apples with the vanilla sugar and peaches. When fluffy, add dried fruit, grated rinds and almond essence.
● Ground the almonds for a soft but not sloppy filling. You may need a little more.
● Combine the rest of the dough ingredients, adding the yeast mixture and work the mixture well.
● Leave to rise in a warm place until double.
● Punch back, roll into a long rectangle. Lay filling down the middle and roll up swiss-roll style, tucking in the ends.
● Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, curling ends into a horseshoe-shape. Slash dough across top revealing some filling.
● Leave to rise covered with cloth in warm place.
● When risen, glaze with beaten egg and place in hot oven.
● Mix icing sugar with lemon juice to make stiff icing.
● Smear cake with icing.
● Decorate. Serve warm or cold.