Wednesday, July 10

The Man That Beat The Bake Off

A few weeks ago whilst buried under mountains of historical books, I had a revision relapse and ended up on facebook, twitter, and blogger (surprise, surprise).
Here I found an event which I could not refuse. Even though it stretched my sparse student funds, I knew that I would regret missing this rare opportunity and it was something to look forward to with exams on the horizon.
Finally after weeks of waiting, the big day arrived. I had the delight of going to a masterclass run by the one and only John Whaite, winner of the Great British Bake Off 2012.
Yes, I was making macaroons with the master himself.
Excited was an massive understatement!



So I set off bright and early with a coffee in my hand, and headed off on the train to London for the day. Luckily the sun was shining and the skies forever blue to greet me to the south shore.
I've never been to Greenwich or Cutty Sark, so I had a bit of a surprise when I came across this stunning old thing!



The old Cutty Sark ship was absolutely stunning, especially with Canary Wharf looming in the background.
Just when I thought that it couldn't get any better on my walk to the bakery...



...I then spied the stunning waters and the National Maritime Museum in all its sunny, stunning glory to welcome me to the shores.
I had a gander down the beautiful Thames pathway looking for a bench to have a spot of lunch.
(Pre-class fuel being vital for a 6 hour baking frenzy!)





Finally next to an old tavern in Greenwich, I found a wooden bench which overlooked the Thames in all of its glory, Canary wharf hiding in the background, and the 02 arena straight in front of my eyes.



After enjoying the view and having a cheeky nibble, I finally made my way to the Vanilla Bakery, (shaking a little at the thought of baking out of your comfort zone!)
Oh how I was wrong to be so nervous!



The Vanilla Bakery itself is an incredible work space, set out perfectly for group functions and demonstrations.
After a good ten minutes of introductions, chattering, and stories, our group of 7 donned their aprons to follow John's expertise in macaroons, rough puff palmiers, and Madeleine's.
(Yummmmmm!)


The day itself was more of a 'hands on/get stuck in' kind of event, so I'm afraid no recipes to follow today. But do not fret, I've got plenty of cracking little creations to follow after picking up many a helpful tip and skill from this fabulous class.
Here is a insight into the day itself, the baking, the wonderful people, and what we created.



(Working out the vital 'ribbon' stage for Madeleine making!)




(Mastering the art of rough puff pastry in a kitchen of 30C was interesting!)



I was working on a station with Bea, Alex (The Broke Boy), and Joanne, all absolutely charming people and fantastic company for the day to gush about all of our baking loves!
John himself was a fantastic help, always full of great tips and useful advice. When trying out new bakes, it really did help to have such an experienced guide.
Also, I must add, John was a man with great taste, offering round gummy sweets and plenty of glasses of Prosecco, drunken baking was on the cards at this rate!


Bea and I taking a break in between Madeleines and macaroons. These beautiful little caterpillars below emerge from the oven in the butterfly form of Madeleine's. Yes, I was dubious about these vanilla infused slugs at first too, but they worked like an absolute charm!









Bea, Alex and Joanne having a Prosecco breather from the baking. You'll be surprised how tiring 6 hours of baking can be!
Whilst making our little delights, we got to ask John some questions here and there. Whilst I have some cracking tips to come your way, to any fellow bake-a-holics, you might like these little answers in the meantime:

What is your go to comfort food for those days when life is getting you down?
"My lone wolf's baked eggs, or my spiced sticky toffee pudding- I love that!"




When baking cookies, how on earth do you manage to make them all perfectly identical in shape and size? 

"Weigh them. I weigh each cookie to the exact same weight. So a smaller cookie would be about 35g, and a larger cookie 75g."



What do you think you gained most out of the Great British Bake Off and would you recommend this experience to complete amateurs?
"I'd recommend it to anyone who loves to bake. I gained so much from it; my life truly has changed because of it!"



How do you find inspiration for your recipes? Do you follow others or prefer to create your own from scratch?
"I much prefer to create recipes from scratch. I like to taste lots of different combinations of flavours, and see where I could slot that in!"


And finally... British Baking or French Patisserie??
"Somewhere in between the two... :)"


The rough palmiers looked stunning to create, dusted with sugar, and even more delicious to eat!


A big thank you to John, his partner Paul for all of the help he gave during the day, and also Baking Mad for the goodie bags filled with sugars and flavourings. (You have saved my student bank account big time with a huge tub of vanilla extract!)



After creating our delicious macaroons, (I chose a slight red hue), we created a leaf green rose flavoured butter cream to sandwich them together.
As you can probably tell from my past posts, I'm obsessed with macaroons! After learning a trick or two about the Italian meringues and the dainty skills of 'tweeking the nipples', I'll create a 'macaroon for dummies' guide with all of the tips and advice in the near future. Stay tuned!





Bea's beautiful pink and rose macaroons above, and the charming French lady Laure's lemon macaroons too below.



After all of that effort, it was time to wash down our delights, with more Prosecco of course!





So after 6 hours of intense baking, snapping of cameras, and one too many classes of Prosecco, it was time to say our goodbyes.
We wrapped up each of our bakes in dainty boxes, asked John to sign a few bits here and there, and swapped blog details.



It was such an incredible experience and one I will never forget. Hopefully I'll keep in contact with the people I met and see John again one day (probably because I'll sign up for another class if I can!).
But you never know, he's given me the confidence to possibly take on Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood myself one day... I just have a lot of practise to do first!



It really was a mad and memorable day of macaroons and Madeleine's with the master...

(If you would like to see the classes yourself, John Whaite's link is here. I went on the Food Bloggers Multi-Bake Day, and I can't recommend the experience enough. It is perfect for both complete amateurs and experienced bakers as you are always offered help and guidance, plus, it really does help to increase your confidence in your own baking. Come on ladies and gentlemen, don the aprons and bake out of your comfort zone!
I promise you won't regret it..!)
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33 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your awesome day, you look like you had bags of fun! I do love a good cookery workshop, and this sounds like one I might have to sign up for :) x

    http://smellylions.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Nat! I honestly can't recommend it enough, John is fab! x

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  2. This looks amazing, it must have been incredible! I've never been able to make macaroons well like that wow, definitely a good spend :Pxx

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    1. All just to make some perfect macaroons! What a girl has to do ey!? x

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  3. i always want to sign up for a class to try and improve my pastry making skills but i'm never sure which to choose so this is a good idea! the macarons look delicious!

    capturingthewanderlust.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Yeah I never have done one before, I signed up to this one as I knew for the GBBO how epic John was, otherwise I'm a bit cautious!
      Well worth it though :) xx

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  4. What a great day that must have been!!! I watched the Great British Bake Off this year and I la la la loved John - not only because he studied law and preferred baking too!
    It looks like you learned a lot, I hope you share some of your tips with us later on! I've never tried making a macaroon in my life and I think yours look beautiful. I like the contrast between the pink and the green. I admire you for having the guts to move outside the comfort of your own kitchen, Emily!

    Flora x
    www.twowithseven.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. He was an absolute babe on the show wasn't he!? I can vouch that yes, he is just as epic and lovely in real life! It was nice to have a good natter with him about the love of Mary Berry! Don't worry, a macaroon for dummies post will be on its way! xx

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  5. Such a fab post! I can't even tell you how much I loved John on GBBO - I'm quite jealous you got to meet him! Looks like you did a great job on those macaroons :)

    Bxx

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    1. Aww thanks Bella! He is such a great guy in real life, and I'm slightly jealous that he got to meet Mary Berry! xx

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  6. EMILY, you know how gutted I was that I couldn't go, jealous to the max!!!
    Those macaroons you made look adorable!
    I'm on the look out for another blogger day that I can go to in the future, I'm crazy envious I missed out!
    Lottie xxx
    beautyandacookbook.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Don't fret Lottie, if there is another thing that takes our fancy, I say bloggers get together and team up??? Let me know if you find anything! xx

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  7. Hi Emily!!
    I would looove to read your guide on macaroons! I have tried and failed many a time so I just make sure to get myself a big bag every Saturday at the Farmer's Market instead! Looks like a great learning experience!

    Brea
    http://doctorsdaughter.blogspot.ca

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    1. Thanks Brea!! Don't worry, mine were far from perfect, so I'm going to do loads of practise before doing a post for you all on here. I can't put up a post with just 'average' macaroons! I'm working on it! :) xx

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  8. FANTASTIC post!! I don't even like to bake (I'm terrible at it) but I loved reading this! Also - how awesome is your hair??

    www.nicholawithanh.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Haha thanks Nichola!! I bet you can bake, you just need the right recipes to get you started! xx

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  9. What a lovely post! I do love macaroons and baking so am definitely tuned for your upcoming posts! I've been wanting to take a baking class, do they do other classes besides this one?

    Teffy || Teffys Perks Blog

    Xx

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    1. Thanks Teffy! Yep, John is running a few different ones, there is a link to his website at the bottom of the post. Can't recommend it enough! xx

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  10. Thankfully I was living in London last year and I had the chance to watch every episode of the Great British Bake off, which I looked forward to every week! I am happy he won and it is awesome that you got to bake with the champion!

    A Golden State of Mind

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    1. The new series is coming out in August, I'm beyond excited!!! I felt honoured to be in his baking presence.. Yes, I love the bake off that much too! xx

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  11. This looks like a lovely day. I can never get macaroons right, did he have any tips on how to make the perfect macaroon..........?

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    1. Thanks! I'm having a practise and i'll put up a 'Macaroons for Dummies' post to include everything I learnt. Stay tuned! xx

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  12. this class looks amazing - definitely going to have to sign myself up to the next one. i absolutely love GBBO and john was my favourite to win right from the beginning. can't wait for the macaron tips post

    rebecca x

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    1. I can't recommend it enough, go for it Rebecca!
      I'm working on it!
      xx

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  13. Wowee, what an incredible day! It's amazing how much you can learn in a short amount of time and if you keep practicing...well, I hope to see you on British Bakeoff yourself in a year or so!

    Lovely post too :)

    Cx
    Cocktails and Caroline

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    1. Thanks Caroline :) It is incredible in only 5 hours! I wish... Meeting Mary Berry would be a dream! A beautiful, beautiful dream! xx

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  14. Wow! Looks like such a great day! Such a cute blog, I love the visuals!

    Sophiemloves

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  15. it all looks amazing, such a great opportunity! the red/pink macaroons are so pretty!

    http://isabel-adayinthelife.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thanks Isabel! I'm hoping to find some bright pink dye to make them really pop! x

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  16. i am completely in love with those rainbow striped cupcake cases! Some stunning piccies, can't wait for your meringue recipe XX


    myuniyears.com

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    1. Thanks India! I'll try and get it done soon, you really can't beat a good meringue!? xx

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    2. Oooops I meant macaroon!! X

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