As promised here is my article all about the #AOcooks first blogger event in partnership with Neff for a day of demos and baking at the Neff’s test kitchens in Milton Keynes with special guest John Whaite (off of Great British Bake Off! He won in 2012 and is one of the nicest guys I have ever met.)
When I got to the centre I was greeted by some familiar faces from Neff whom I have met before and some new guys an gals from ao.com. I was given my name badge and a coffee, which was much needed after the train journey from London! After all the tweeting, it was really nice to meet my fellow bloggers and writers in person too!
We were then given a tour around the showroom by the lovely Stephen who is the head trainer at Neff. Turns out, he’s a fellow Maidstonian! I fell in love with all of the Neff appliances. From the Slide & Hide oven which is one of my favourite things (Although, they seemed to forget to put one in my goody bag…) the Aqua Assist and all of the touchy hobs. (They were touch sensitive, not angry.)
We were then moved into the meeting room where we had a brief overview of the Neff brand and AO.com as a company. And we got to view the cool stop motion videos! (I will share links to these at the bottom of the page)
Carl Andreas Neff founded the company in 1877 and it was made originally and still to this day for people with a passion for cooking. He famously said;
“The heart of the kitchen isn’t the oven, it’s the people”
In 2013, one in five ovens sold in the UK was a Neff. They have also branched out into the ‘Bake it Yourself’ brand which is a great forum for bakers and cooks at all levels. There is a Facebook page, twitter page and free app that goes with this. I recommend you check this out!
AO.com was started in 1999 after a bet in a pub! This solidifies my beliefs that bets in pubs are a good thing for all those concerned! (See; Dave Gorman…) AO.com has 1.38 million ‘likes’ on Facebook – a million more than rival Currys PC World. The electricals specialist offers customers Eco Delivery whereby customers can choose to cut their carbon emissions by opting to receive their goods at a time when one of its lorries is in its area.
We then got to move into the test kitchen where John Whaite and Neff’s Home Economist, Lynn Williams were waiting. John was a delight as always. Very friendly and welcoming and it was great to see him again. Lynn once again showcased her talent as we watched her bake salmon and watercress tartlets and lemon and poppyseed muffins. Here’s the kicker though people, these two bakes were put in the SAME oven. Neff were proving that their CircoTherm technology means that the smells and flavours do not blend into one another when baking. These were put into the oven and left to bake whilst we all had some fun.
John then showed us how to bake cranberry and orange scones. I’d like to point out at this point that Mr Whaite loves a scone. He is full of handy tips and tricks to get the perfect one and I’m hoping he takes my advice and brings out a book that is exclusively scones! 😉
Once the demo was complete we were then allowed to get stuck in! Everyone partnered off and I was with Stephen, the super cool head trainer I mentioned earlier! Under the counter were all the weighed out ingredients to make cheese scones. Some of the room also had cheese scones and some had the cranberry and orange ingredients the same as John. It all felt very Great British Bake Off – I loved it!
Once the scones were mixed, cut and in the oven, we had time for a cup of tea and a taste test! The scones and tartlets that were baking in the same oven were now ready for us to try and, as promised, none of us could tell the difference! The amazing Neff CircoTherm technology was clearly demonstrated. The air is circulated around each rack and does not mix or mingle the flavours meaning the muffins weren’t unaffected by the salmon tartlets. I was super impressed and fell a little bit more in love with the Neff ovens than I already was! (Seriously guys, there WASN’T one in my goody bag…)
We were then told that tea was served and were brought into the beautifully decorated dining room where all of our scones were laid out as well as the salmon and watercress tartlets, lemon and poppyseed muffins, goats cheese tartlets, quiche and other tasty goodies! I found a seat, poured myself a cup of tea and got stuck in. Everything was so tasty!
John and I had a discussion about which should go first on a scone, the jam or the clotted cream. We didn’t come to any sort of agreement I don’t think as we were too busy eating them!
Once we could not eat another bite, we finished off the day with a Q&A session with the guest of honour himself, John Whaite Bakes. (That’s actually how you have to say his name.) I will be posting the Q&A as a separate blog post with all the gossip soon!
After a fun and informative afternoon it was sadly time to leave. We were given our goody bags which contained all sorts of treats, including our scones, John’s cookbooks, a Neff recipe book, a selection of tea and AO tea towels! The books made for great reading on the train home and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes!
All in all it was a brilliant day. I want to thank AO.com for inviting me as a special guest, Neff for hosting in their fabulous kitchens and John Whaite for being a fountain of knowledge as always. I hope to see every one who went again very soon.
Until next time, happy baking.