By now many of you have been catching sight of The Hairy Bikers and their Bakeation on BBC2. They have my full attention when they are exploring the lesser known parts of Europe and the regional baking.
published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2012, £20
Of course there is always a cookbook to tie in with the television show, and this time it's The Hairy Bikers' Big Book of Baking. It's easy to be cynical about the glut of tie-in cookbooks that accompany each television cookery series, but when it comes to the Hairy Bikers, I eagerly anticipate their books because their recipes work and they work exceedingly well.
When the duo were in Germany making their Bierocks (meat and cabbage buns), I knew which recipe I would be trying first. (If anybody in Nebraska is reading this, you will know these buns as Runzas).
The Germans from Russia who settled in Nebraska (US) brought their version of Bierocks with them keeping their food traditions alive. Somebody with a recipe in their family built an empire with these buns in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Runzas are now as ubiquitous in Nebraska as corn stalks.
So how did the Hairy Bikers' version of these buns compare to what I grew up eating? I have to confess when I first read the recipe, I thought their addition of spices had gone over the top with what is really a quite simple filling. And then I tasted the Hairy Bikers' bierocks. I am a changed person. The mince and cabbage was greatly enhanced by the cumin and fennel in ways I hadn't imagined. The pair have done it again! These guys really know what they're doing when it comes to food.
I'm not sure where my baking journey in the book will head next now that I have tackled the bierocks of Germany. Will it be the Scandinavian Tea Ring from Norway? The Riesling Wine Cake from Germany? The Linzer Torte from Austria?
All I know is that whatever baking adventure I undertake from the Hairy Bikers' book, the recipe will get me to the final destination with confidence and style.