Meet Jess, our new baking correspondent (yes, that’s a real job!)
Some of you may know that I’ve recently (sob) had to give up sugar. The result is that I’ve had the need for a brand new baking correspondent! Enter Jess – Jess is a fantastic baker and cake decorator and was happy to take on the job.
Last month, I sent Jess on her very first assignment. In at the deep end with a true industry heavyweight and one of the most respected cake designers out there – a review of Baking Fundamentals with the amazingly talented and wonderful Rosalind Miller. Jess had a brilliant time and has written this review for you budding bakers out there:
One of Rosalind’s beautiful creations (Summer 2014 collection)
Baking fundamentals with Rosalind Miller
The science of baking, the alchemy of sugarwork, the precision of piping – in fact all things cake! I have long been fascinated by this craft, so when I was invited to attend a one day course teaching ‘Baking Fundamentals’ by award winning cake designer, Rosalind Miller I grabbed my apron and leapt at the chance.
Upon arriving in Rosalind’s light and spacious London studio I was welcomed warmly with a cup of tea and given the outline of the day; a day that promised to educate us in the way of consistent cake baking, teach us how to fill and layer our cakes and ultimately to prepare and apply a smooth and even coat of the most unbelievably light and silky buttercream I have ever experienced – but more of that later!
A course focusing on the taste and texture of a cake, rather than the decoration, is a rare thing. I was struck by the diversity of fellow bakers who eagerly attended, professional ladies all with busy careers and a shared passion for baking. As we shyly showed photos on our phones it became obvious that they were all skilled with decoration but all yearned to make a consistently risen and deliciously moist sponge and indeed this is what we each ultimately produced.
Course numbers are kept low so we each worked in our own area and in the most part with our own equipment ( I fell in love with my cream Kitchen Aid mixer). Rosalind and her lovely assistant Clare took us though each step in combining the ingredients and really pressed home just how important the accuracy of measuring and mixing with different techniques truly is!
Rosalind’s Top Tips for the Perfect Bake
I definitely some pro tips that I never would have thought of before! For example, did you know that:
♥ All ingredients must be at room temperature – including the milk!
♥ If you use a cake flour with a low gluten content (readily available in supermarkets), this will give a more open texture to your sponge.
♥ If your cakes are coming out of the oven with a dome this is because your temperature is too high, try cooling it a bit and cooking for longer.
♥ All ovens are different, after 3/4 of the baking time and as long as the batter is not liquid when you look through the oven window it is safe to open the door and test with a knife, any residue and pop it back for a little longer.
♥ The disappointment of most failed sponges is caused by over mixing.
I cannot describe my feeling of pride and excitement when my sponges were brought from the oven and I had indeed achieved what Rosalind had promised – a perfectly risen and stunningly light cake. The focus was then moved to layering and filling with a truly exquisite Swiss meringue buttercream, once tried you will never go back.
Rosalind patiently demonstrated the techniques necessary for a precision finish, cutting the layers, shaping and finally the professional tricks to achieve that perfectly smooth final coat of luxurious buttercream.
I, and my fellow students were thrilled with our results and left with our creations, I for one was concerned that such a beautiful cake may be wasted but I need not have worried, of all the bakes I have offered to friends I can honestly say that this one disappeared the fastest! Now, back to the oven!
So top marks for student Jess, and a glowing recommendation for Rosalind’s Baking Fundamentals course. Check out Rosalind’s full masterclass calendar here!