I love baking. I know you know this, but I’m telling you again. I love baking. Cakes, cookies, muffins, meringues.. I love it all. However, I wouldn’t call myself a super duper top notch baker. I’d call myself the kind of ‘cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best-but-you-know-I’m-going-to-eat-it-anyway’ kind of baker. So, Saturday was a bit of a treat for me. On Saturday, I baked my little socks off at Leiths Cookery School of Food and Wine.
Leiths offer an enormous selection of different culinary courses, which include everything from Malaysian Street Food, Retro Puds, Perfecting your Knife Skills and How to Cook the Perfect Roast Lamb. Today I did the Cakes and Baking course – ‘Learn the essential methods of cake making in this half day baking workshop’. Brilliant.
I arrived to hot coffee, the papers and piles of delicious pastries. (So happy.) Then, after a brief health and safety talk, we were whisked off the kitchen for a demonstration.
Black sticky gingerbread and mini pistachio cakes with lemon drizzle were whipped up before our very eyes. Cor. We learnt lingo, tips and tricks and a few culinary secrets.. (it’s fine to soften butter in the microwave, by the way) and then we got to taste…
They were completely amazing. So delicious. Proper dribbly delish.
Then, it was our turn. We were making Leiths chocolate brownies, Raisin bran muffins and Raspberry Victoria Sponge cake with elderflower and mascarpone cream. Drool. But first, a de-brief..
And then we were off..
I learnt many little nuggets of wisdom during this course, but probably the most valuable one I have taken away with me is the Leiths philosophy of ‘mise en place’ – which literally means ‘putting in place’. In the culinary world it means to have everything ready before you begin. Eggs broken and whisked, flour measured, vanilla pod seeds scraped, sugar weighed – everything is good to go, so no time is wasted once you begin.
I also learnt that the reason we began sieving, was to check that there were no little animals or other suspects hiding in the flour! Now we sieve to get as much air into the mix as possible. But sometimes, we don’t want air… who wants a bouncy airy brownie? Not me. No siree. I want it to stick to my teeth and make it difficult for me to talk.
A delicious lunch of cheese, wine, salads and cold meats was served and we congratulated ourselves on our hard work, by eating until we were fit to burst. We then retrieved our elderflower mascarpone cream (which we’d made earlier) from the fridge, sandwiched our two sponges together and spread the remainder of the cream on top before decorating with raspberries. (There are also raspberries inside the sponge, hence my big jammy looking splodge.)
We then boxed everything up, de-aproned and headed home, armed with delicious warm treats, lots of baking tips, recipes and a whole new level of baking confidence. We didn’t even have to do the washing up.
I jumped on the bus and even the driver was eyeing up my wares.
I don’t blame her – they were gorgeous.
16-20 Wendell Road