A fabulous day of baking :: Bake With Maria…well, with Marianne!

On Saturday I spent the day baking. Taking time out to bake is something that I rarely do at the moment and I didn't realise how much I missed it until this weekend. I used to really love baking. I’ve baked Victoria sponges, scones, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, shortbread and loaf cakes in the past but have got out of the habit of making time to bake. I started to grow despondent following a few baking disasters with a particularly fierce oven, and always ended up making things in a rush. However attending a course this weekend changed how I want to experience baking moving forwards. The passion I have for baking was sparked again by a really fantastic class I attended. The process of combining simple ingredients to create delightful cakes on Saturday brightened up the cloudy October day, and was the turning point I needed to get inspired to pick up a whisk again.

I was very lucky to be treated to a day of baking at the Bake With Maria baking school, thanks to Mr C’s sister and brother-in-law. The weekend started with an early morning train journey from Bristol to London. Armed with a latte and the November copy of Red magazine, I set off feeling really excited and ready to learn. Until recently I had never been on a sewing class, and a baking class was equally as new to me. I learnt to bake watching and learning from my very talented mum, watching Delia and Nigella on TV, and reading copious baking books and trying a few things out. Looking back at the home economics lessons I had at school I realised I was never really properly taught the basics, but this class filled the essential gaps in my knowledge. Mr C’s sister, Rachael, and I met up and headed to The Baking Lab in Swiss Cottage, London for the class. We arrived at The Baking Lab and had tea and delicious biscuits to fuel the morning of baking and learning. The class we attended was the Cake Baking Masterclass led by the extremely knowledgeable and super talented pastry chef Marianne Stewart (@MarianneBakes). The course was 5.5 hours long and we baked three different cakes, firstly a Moelleux au Chocolat (Chocolate Torte), then 12 Mini Carrot Cakes with a cream cheese frosting and candied carrot strips to decorate, and finally a lemon drizzle cake.

We watched Marianne skilfully demonstrate her recipes with a full how-to demonstration per cake. We learnt about the basic techniques used within each recipe, what each stage of the baking process should look like, and general tips in relation to baking skills to use during each recipe. There were practical skills too, so how to zest lemons, tips including wrapping cling film round your mixer while making icing so you don’t have a kitchen covered in white dust, and recommendations on equipment to use. After we were shown how to make the cake step by step, we then had a go ourselves following the helpful and detailed recipe handout.



Half way through we had a break for a very delicious lunch prepared by Marta, The Baking Lab Manager, and sat chatting sharing baking stories.

Our group of 8 who were taking the course were lovely and we all were quite candid about our baking disasters and level of skills! We had the opportunity to ask lots of baking questions and each were answered. We learnt things about why a cake mixture behaves the way it does, so I now understand why some cakes rise like volcanoes and why we experience problems with paper cases sticking or falling off! Both things I've experienced. I felt I learnt more in 5.5 hours of baking than in all my years of baking so far.




The day was truly fabulous and the course really surpassed expectations. What was unique was that each recipe involved different techniques, volumes and types of ingredients that were different than the ‘standard’ recipes. During the class we used good quality equipment, the highlight for me was having the chance to use a Kitchen Aid mixer. I was in heaven and I felt like I was on the Great British Bake Off! Unfortunately our kitchen at home wouldn't fit a Kitchen Aid mixer. Even if we had space I'd never make a decision about the colour I’d want!

At the end of the class we got to take home our creations in cake boxes that were supplied and left full of inspiration to get baking. After the class I sampled the cakes with a friend over cups of tea and we agreed they were yummy and had to hold back from scoffing the lot in one sitting!

On Bake with Maria’s website the strapline is ‘Bake yourself happy!’…well I certainly did on Saturday. Thank you Marianne for inspiring me to get in the kitchen and bake again, and thank you Rachael for taking me!