SPOOKY BAKES C akes and treats to die for. So says the title of Helena Garcia’s ravishing new cook book, The Wicked Baker. The cover picture hints of mischief, menace and a bit of sass thrown in – just what you would expect from Helena Garcia, the Leeds-based cook who we saw in the Great British Bake Off finals last year. Eccentric and unexpected, her creative spirit earned her lots of love from viewers and her new book hits the shelves perfectly pitched for Halloween gatherings and afternoon teas with a spooky side. present in everything I do, how I dress, the way I decorate my house and, of course, my baking style.’ Helena first experienced Halloween when she was 17 and spent her last year of high school in Las Vegas. ‘Throughout October the school was completely decorated, and everyone came to class in costume, including the teachers. The stores were bursting with pumpkins, candy, skeletons and pointy hats. I was hooked,’ she laughs. The obsession evolved throughout the years and when she was given the opportunity to take over a Victorian-style apothecary in Leeds, cauldrons and potion bottles started appearing on its antique mahogany shelves. ‘My aim has always been to turn what was seen as a tacky and commercial holiday into a sophisticated and spiritual one. Ultimately, Halloween is European and it’s time to bring it back home and reclaim it,’ she says. ‘I love cooking in general, but baking feels like cooking with added creative possibilities. Most of the baking projects in this book have a spooky decorative touch, but not all. There are recipes for all skill levels, from simple cookies to an elaborate four-layer haunted tree cake.’ ‘Halloween is European and it’s time to bring it back home’ Helena spent hours in her home in North Leeds perfecting her recipes, often with toddler Flora by her side. ‘Since I was a teenager, I have been fascinated with all things strange and obscure. Learning that most of our festivals and celebrations come from pagan traditions opened a whole new world for me when I was younger,’ she says. ‘Halloween is a holiday which brings me immense joy throughout the year. It is SLIME PUDDING Serves 6 This is one of my favourite desserts and it just takes a few ingredients plus a little food colour. Keep tasting the mixture when adding the citrus juice so you can adjust to your taste. I like it rather tangy, so I add a lot of juice. It is so easy yet so effective as a dessert for a ghoulish dinner party. Ingredients 400g can condensed milk 400g plain Greek yogurt Juice of 3 limes Juice of 2 lemons Leaf green food colour Yellow food colour Method: Using a handheld electric whisk, mix the condensed milk and yogurt together in a large bowl. Mix the lime and lemon juices together, then slowly pour in enough for your taste. The mixture will thicken. Add some leaf green colour and a few drops of yellow to achieve a slimy hue. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or ideally overnight. Serve cold in 6 individual glasses or cauldrons. Yorkshire Life: October 2020 119
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