As you may have seen (plastered all over) on my Instagram feed last week, I was lucky enough to be invited over to the Wilmslow Cookery School along with around thirty other lovely blogger ladies for the ultimate bake off along with Currys and Kenwood. In true bake off spirit we were tasked with creating some delicious Great British classics (meringues, tarts, swiss rolls... the whole kit and caboodle!). After an initial dose of self doubt that sounded something along the lines of "oh my goodness I can't make a *insert cake/dessert here* to save my life", we all shuffled off in to pairs and got in to the groove. So how do you make the perfect blogger event? Here's how...
You Will Need:
- 30 x eager (and very hungry) bloggers
- 1 x beautiful cookery school
- 3 x very skilled chefs (patience of a Saint is preferred)
- A dozen Kenwood kMix mixers, complete with fancy attachments and a genius glass bowl
- A good dash of healthy competition
- A lot of chocolate
Step 01: After a quick catch up with fellow bloggers (and the realisation I'd come dressed as Sarah's twin - dungarees and stripes y'all), we were introduced to Debbie, a representative from the Kenwood brand, who gave us a brief history of the company and how the kMix's had come to market.
Step 02: Next up we were introduced to our chefs and teachers for the day, Sarah, David and Bryan. Sarah talked us through how to use the machines (so easy, even I could do it) and made us familiar with our workstations. Very bake-off indeed.
Step 03: Sarah then showed us how to make the perfect meringues, along with some handy tips along the way (warming your sugar in the oven a little before adding it to you egg whites helps to cook the eggs and dissolves quicker in to the mix which stops the meringue from being grainy. Nifty hey?). She then demonstrated that putting a touch of food colouring in to the tip of the piping bag with the end of a spoon will give your meringues a pretty marbled effect, and finished off by showing us how to pipe the perfect peaked beauties.
Step 04: Things then got real. Here is where we were set off on our own creations. I paired up with the lovely Toni (a baker by day, so a great choice of team mate if I do say so!) and off we went to whip up our meringues, which formed perfect peaks in our rather fabulous hot pink kMix. (Toni even voluntarily did the bowl-over-the-head test. Brave lady.) We added our pink food colouring to the piping bags, piped out our lovely little pink meringues and off in to the oven they went.
Step 05: Next on the menu was probably the most fear inducing of the three recipes for me - the Swiss Roll. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how easy this was to make. Just a simple mixture of eggs, flour and sugar created a super fluffy mix, that we spread on to our baking sheets and sent off to the ovens, hoping for the best!
Step 06: A swiss roll isn't a swiss roll without copious amounts of strawberries and cream, so once our (perfectly baked) cake bases were out of the ovens and cooled, we got to the real fun and started to decorate them. We covered the cakes in a rather tasty creme patisserie (a batch that chef made earlier - Blue Peter, eat your heart out) and sliced fresh strawberries, then got to rolling! Rolling the cake was actually a lot easier and not as near as terrifying as first anticipated. Looks pretty good right? This was then topped lovingly with more creme patisserie, strawberries and some of our lovely little meringues.
Step 07: Last up was the ever-so-indulgent chocolate tart. Chocolate pastry. Chocolate filling. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. We got to work on making our pastry (from scratch - no cheats here!), rolling it nice and thin between two sheets of cling film, then lined our tin with it, as demonstrated below by Toni. This was then blind baked with rice over the top of the cling film to stop it from rising. The rice was then removed part way through cooking to make sure it was extra short and crisp.
Step 08: We then made a dreamy concoction of cream, butter, sugar and chocolate over the stove for the tart filling, then added whole eggs and egg yolks once the mixture had cooled. This was then carefully poured in to our cooked pastry cases and popped back in the oven for the final flourish! What came out can only be described as heavenly, believe me. Who knew something so decadent could be so easy?!
So there you have it. The most wonderful day with great company, a bunch of lovely chefs and of course the Joe Blogs team! We were all treated to one of the kMix hand mixers, which I've already put to good use (more on that next week!) and of course got to take all of our delicious bakes home, something Dan was particularly pleased with.
Thank you so much to Wilmslow Cookery School for such a brilliant venue, and shout out to all the lovely bloggers I met on the day for making it so much fun! It's safe to say I've now been bitten by the baking bug, and hope to recreate the recipes at home soon.