John Whaite is the winner of the third series of The Great British Bake Off, which aired back in 2012. Since then he's released three cookery books, trained at Le Cordon Bleu, was a resident chef on Lorraine, a guest chef on Sunday Brunch, presented Chopping Block with Rosemary Shrager, and opened a cookery school called John Whaite's Kitchen. So you might say he's been busy! I've been lucky to meet him briefly a couple of times at events like The Cake & Bake Show, and I cooked with him at a Neff & ao.com event a couple of years ago.
I was invited by ao.com to attend a baking class at John's cookery school - John Whaite's Kitchen - which is located in Wrightington, just north of Wigan and about a 40 minute drive from central Manchester. I found it easily and parked up. I was greeted by John and the AO team and handed a warm cup of mulled cider which was desperately needed as it was a very chilly evening! John was chatty and friendly and I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered meeting me at the Neff event back in 2014. After all, he must meet so many new people all the time.
The cookery school was beautifully decorated and the shelves lined with mixers, cake tins and ingredients were a baker's dream!
Once everyone arrived we set about making a Gingerbread Latte Swiss Roll under John's instruction. He certainly knew his stuff when it came to the technical aspects of baking, he explained all about the protein structures of egg and how they change when they are whisked up. The roll was made using a genoise sponge which involved whisking eggs and sugar in a Kitchen Aid mixer on a high speed for around 7 minutes to create volume, as the sponge contains no raising agent.
The filling of the sponge was supposed to be whipped cream, mascarpone cheese and coffee extract. As I'm not a coffee fan, John suggested adding a couple of tablespoons of Biscoff spread instead, which was a fantastic idea!
I felt quite confident baking the roll as I've made things like it several times before, but several of the other bloggers were not as confident and John made sure that everyone had his time to ask questions, check on their mixture and make sure they were following the steps correctly. Even if you are not a confident baker, you'd have no problems producing a gorgeous bake with John's assistance.
We stopped for a break and ate some delicious butternut squash soup, while John gave us a demonstration on tempering chocolate. It was very memorising to watch!
We then tucked into this awesome cheeseboard!
To decorate the rolls John helped each of us pour over a mirror glaze, then we added chocolate shards, chocolate coffee beans, cacao nibs and some gold shimmer spray. They looked absolutely gorgeous! Everyone put their own spin on the decoration and each roll looked slightly different. We were also very kindly provided with swiss roll carriers by the AO team to take our goodies home with us.
And this was the finished product! It looked stunning and had such a professional finish. Of course I had to get a photo with me and my creation in front of the logo!
I had a brilliant time at John Whaite's Kitchen Cookery School, I loved every moment. Baking is one of my favourite things to do, and learning from someone so accomplished as John was a great opportunity. He is also such an entertaining presence and cracked lots of genuinely funny jokes throughout the session. The AO team did an amazing job by organising the whole event and they are such a friendly bunch. It was also great to meet some fellow bloggers, and see some again that I've met before.
John also kindly had photos with us all and we were all given a new copy of his book - Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients - which he signed for me, as well as some Joseph Joseph baking tools. I'm really looking forward to making some recipes from his book as many of them look divine. With only 5 ingredients each, they will no doubt be fuss free and easy to make too. John also has a new range of crockery out (the navy bowls and jug with gold trim in the photo at the top) which looks absolutely gorgeous and is going on my Christmas list!
When I cut into the swiss roll I was very pleased to see such a fab swirl! I loved the whole thing, it was very delicious and this would be an amazing centrepiece for a Christmas meal or party. I've included the recipe below if you'd like to make this at home.
- 4 Eggs
- 100 g Dark brown muscavado sugar
- 30 g Golden syrup
- 110 g Plain flour
- 2 tsp Ground ginger
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- 125 g Double cream
- 125 g Mascarpone cheese
- 1 tbsp Coffee extract
- 3 tbsp Icing sugar
- Mirror glaze warmed to 34C, optional
- Tempered chocolate shards optional
- Gold leaf optional
- Chocolate coffee beans optional
- Cacao nibs optional
- Edible gold glitter optional
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Grease and line a large baking tray (43x28cm)
- For the cake, put the eggs, caster sugar and golden syrup into a KitchenAid fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture triples in volume and reaches the ribbon stage
- Sift the dry ingredients together onto a piece of baking paper, then add to the mixing bowl and whisk briefly until incorporated
- Pour the batter onto the greased and lined tray, smooth out with a small crank handled palette knife and tap the tray on the worktop three or four times to expel any large air bubbles
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the sponge springs back when gently prodded
- Prepare a clean, damp tea towel on the worktop and place onto that a piece of baking paper. As soon as the sponge is baked, invert it onto the baking paper. Roll the sponge up tightly inside the paper, starting from one of the shorter ends. Then roll that up inside the towel. Allow to cool completely
- For the filling, whisk the cream with the icing sugar to soft, floppy peaks. Whisk in the marscapone and coffee extract until combined and thick
- Unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling over it as evenly as possible. Re-roll the cake and freeze until almost solid
- Set the frozen cake onto a wired rack and pour over the warmed mirror glaze. Allow the glaze to set then decorate with the chocolate shards, gold leaf, edible glitter, cacao nibs and chocolate coffee beans
- Serve immediately, store leftovers in the fridge and eat within 2 days
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