Friday, 31 October 2014

Learning to bake with Currys and Kenwood

What could be better than spending a rainy Sunday in doors surrounded by the smell of freshly baked cakes and the giggles of some of your favourite bloggers??

Well, nothing really! Which is why I feel so lucky to have been invited by Currys and Kenwood to enjoy that very experience at the Cookery School in Glasgow. Along with a host of Scottish bloggers I got to spend the day learning how to make cakes, muffins and scones while merrily stuffing my face and picking up loads of top tips along the way and of course I just had to share them.

Now regardless of my mum being a home  economics teacher I am still entirely useless on the baking front. I cannot count the number of times I have given it a go only for it to totally end in disaster which leaves me disheartened and swearing off it forever. Now eating cakes on the other hand.... that is something I excel at. Seriously, I could represent us at Olympic level which is something I am super proud of, but my desire to be at least able to produce the basics has continued to niggle at me so I was delighted to be given the chance to learn from the pros.

The cookery school is a fab venue, the staff were amazing at handling such a large number of us and Danny the chef was excellent at demonstrating every stage before leaving us to head off in groups to give it a go ourselves. We started off with scones which were ridiculously easy and thoroughly enjoyable when wolfed down fresh out of the oven with lots of jam and cream. This was the perfect time for us all to catch up while our next creation, the victoria sponge cake, was cooking away in the oven. This again was made so simple to follow and Danny was amazing at handing out some top tips throughout. While our final muffins were cooking we set about finishing off our Victoria sponges and going to town on decorating our cupcakes which was loads of  fun. 

I picked up so many excellent ideas throughout the day but my favourite creation was our scones so here are a couple of tips we picked up in our demo;
  • Strong flower such as 00 has more gluten in it so is the perfect choice for scones as it helps them hold their height- just like scaffolding!
  • Use your fingers tips to mix your butter and flour but be careful not to let them get too warm it melts the butter and this can affect your mixture. different temperature ingredients are a no!
  • To check you have gotten all the lumps out when done, give the bowl a shoogle ( professional term) and lo and behold any lumps will rise to the top!
  • Just use a small amount of flower on your work surface when going to cut otherwise it will just pick up lots of unnecessary flour.
  • To get that gorgeous shine egg wash the tops of your scones but if you want them darker just use the yolks!
I loved how it didn't matter if you were a novice like me or a total pro like some of the bloggers, we were all learning from each other and giving new things a go which is exactly what I discovered this baking malarkey is all about.

Without a doubt I was intimidated by baking before and I let that get the better of me when trying it at home, so what I have come away with from my day in the kitchen is that by keeping a few simple rules in mind it really can be a piece of......

CREATIVITY can result in amazing baking just keep your basic recipe perfect with.....
ACCURATE measurements. Don't run before you can walk and if you make a mistake....
KEEP on going. Even Mary berry will run into disaster every so often so dust yourself off and try it again, after all it is really important to....
ENJOY yourself. Have fun in the kitchen and be proud of expanding your skills and making something delicious from scratch.

Although I can't forget  the other very important E in baking - EAT THE CAKE!  There is great satisfaction to be had from enjoying something you made and watching others love it too- It is a sure fire way to win brownie points in the office that is for sure.

So there you have it when getting ready to bake think CAKE and keep my 4 top tops in mind.  Hopefully some of my handy hints from the professionals combined with some ideas from an absolute beginner like me, will inspire you to give it a go. I found it a really rewarding experience, it's fun to set yourself pressure free challenges- especially ones that end up in delicious treats! We were so lucky that Currys provided some gorgeous baking accessories from Kenwood on the day. I have always associated baking with these guys as since I was tiny I can remember my mums pride and joy has been her Kenwood Chef that she got as a wedding present and it was in use pretty much every day while I was growing up. 30 years on and that baby still sits proudly on our kitchen counter and continues to help her mix up loads of special creations. It is a comforting thought to think it has been mums little right hand man on things from our first birthday cakes, countless boozy christmas cakes right through to my brothers wedding cake! Of course I have also been at her side throughout as well, just I was only there to lick the bowl not actually be of any help! Not now though that I have a new found confidence in the kitchen- look out mother!

Is that not just a stunning piece of kit??
Thanks Kenwood and Currys for putting the event together for us, and to the Cookery School and the amazing team at Joe Bloggs for bringing us all together for such a fantastic event. It was by far the best Sunday we could have asked for!

If you have any top baking tips or recipes to share I would love to hear them! Tweet me at @beautyh2t or leave me a comment below.

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