Very’s Great Office Bake Off!

The tent is pitched, the ovens are lit and viewers across the country are licking their lips at the prospect of another 10 mouth-watering weeks of melt-downs, put-downs and soggy bottoms!

To celebrate The Great British Bake Off’s return to our screens we’ll be dropping in throughout the series with a selection of hints, tips and products to help you recreate some of our favourite recipes from the shows. And to prove we’re not afraid to get our own hands floury, a few of us at Very HQ have decided to dust off our pinnies and stage our own bake off battle right here in the office.

When it comes to skill levels, it’s safe to say we’re a bit of a mixed bunch  (as well as having one or two expert bakers in the team, there are also those of us who wouldn’t know a baklava from a balaclava), but whatever we end up concocting in our kitchens, the resulting Show Stoppers will be rigorously judged by an expert panel of… well, whoever dares to have a taste first!

I fall firmly into the novice category, which is a shame because I’ve been selected as the first contestant to step up to the scales. I like to cook but have always found baking requires a certain level of precision and patience that goes against my experimental ‘see what’s in the cupboard, chuck it in and hope for the best’ ethos.

So I’ve decided to play dirty by attempting to score as many points as possible not through flair or imagination, but by wowing the hungry judges with something so ridiculously OTT that they’ll have no option but to award me with the winner’s medal!

It’s time to bring out the big guns – say hello to my Trillionaires’ Shortbread*.

(*Basically Millionaires’ Shortbread, but richer)

This is great for any baking newbies as the recipe is easy to follow, doesn’t require you to be too exact, and the finished shortbreads’ eye-catching triple-layered design will fool people into thinking you’re a lot more skilled than you actually are. The recipe (see below) tells you to use a 13 x 9 inch Swiss roll tin; I threw caution to the wind and opted instead for an 8 inch square tin (as well as double the ingredients for the shortbread and chocolate) so as to end up with a sweet so thick you could use it as an edible footstool.

90 minutes of blood, sweat and swearing in the kitchen (plus the extra two hours it took for the thing to set) and this is what I ended up bringing to work today…


Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting them to be quite that thick, but while each piece probably contains twice the average person’s weekly allowance of calories, they did achieve the desired reaction from everyone in the office. Here are a few quotes from the judges who were brave enough to take one on:

Gemma: “As rich as the name suggests. A taste of pure luxury!”
Steve: “Delicious and… nutritious”
Joanna: “I haven’t tasted mine yet but the view from the top of it is wonderful”

If you want to have a go at making your own, here’s the recipe (these measurements make the regular size Millionaire’s Shortbread; remember to double up on the shortbread and chocolate if you want them to look like mine).

50g plain flour
75g caster sugar
175g softened butter

100g butter or margarine
100g brown sugar
2 x 397g cans of condensed milk

200g milk chocolate

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180’C/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 13 x 9inch (33x23cm) Swiss roll tin (or a smaller tin to make thicker slices)
  2. Weigh out the flour and sugar in a bowl, then rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Form into a ball and drop into tin, gently push down until it’s even, then prick shortbread lightly with a fork
  4. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until shortbread is firm to the touch and lightly brown
  5. Take out of oven and leave to cool in the tin
  6. Make caramel by putting butter,  sugar and condensed milk into a pan and gently heating it until the sugar has dissolved
  7. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, then reduce heat and simmer gently while continuing to stir until the mixture thickens slightly (this takes about 5 minutes)
  8. Pour mixture over the shortbread and leave to cool
  9. Melt the chocolate slowly in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Pour over the cold caramel and leave in fridge to set
  10. Remove from tray onto a chopping board and cut into squares

Make sure you check back later in the week to read Joanna’s recap of the first episode, or search for more great tips and recipes at our Great British Bake Off Page.

4th August 2015
Written by Mark Seragusa