If you've visited my blog before you will know that I am a massive fan of The Great British Bake Off. It is the baking show that inspired me to start both this blog and my journey of delicious baking adventures. So when I heard that there were baking classes being hosted by some of the most talented and well known GBBO stars, well there wasn't much that was going to stop me from getting involved! The classes are called Bake With A Legend, and at first they started off in London (as most things do unfortunately for us Northerners). Thankfully, because they've been so brilliant and successful, they've started doing classes in Manchester this year.
I attended two Bake With A Legend classes in Manchester. The first was baking bread with Paul Jagger. Paul was a quarter finalist in series six and is most well known for his lion bread sculpture. Because the classes are in small groups, they feel very intimate. You can chat away to the hosts and asking them questions throughout is welcomed. At the start we all sat down with Paul and we were offered a hot drink. He talked to us about what we would be baking. He was a very warm, friendly and open guy. Paul was full of anecdotes and stories about his time on GBBO. I found it absolutely fascinating to hear what went on behind the scenes!
Then it was time to bake! Paul demonstrated each step first and explained what we needed to do. There were two large work stations at the Food Sorcery location in East Didsbury for us all to use. They provided plenty of baking equipment to go around and the main ingredients were all weighed out and ready. As there were bakers on either side of the worktops it was ideal for chatting with others in the group and helping each other to remember which ingredients to add!
At the bread making class we made grissini (aka breadsticks) flavoured with parmesan and rosemary. Paul brought rosemary from his garden at home for us to use which was a lovely touch. We also made an asian inspired twist on garlic bread which was stuffed with chickpeas, pepper, cumin, chilli and coriander. I have made bread several times in the past, but I'd never made these recipes before. So it was a learning experience for me. Paul made his way around the group whilst we baked to guide us, answer our questions, and most importantly reassure us that we were following the recipe correctly!
The Bake With A Legend staff were also on hand to clean up after us, help us work the fancy ovens, and keep an eye on our bread as it baked. When everything was ready the whole room smelt amazing! We got another chance to sit round the table with Paul at the end of the session. He chatted with us some more, and we got to ask any further questions we had. We were provided with everything we needed to package up our bread and take it home with us. We also got the chance to get a photo with Paul! It was such a fun day and I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
The second class I attended was cake making with Howard Middleton. He featured in series four of GBBO and is probably best known for having his custard accidentally 'stolen' by a fellow contestant. He's also known for his love of gluten free baking and using unusual flours in his bakes. On one week of the show he used hemp flour, which gave Mel & Sue plenty to joke about! Howard has since released a book full of gluten free recipes (I've linked to it at the bottom of this post if you are interested).
We were making a recipe from Howard's book called a Cacaoccino cake. It's a sponge containing cacao, hazelnuts and coffee, surrounded by hazelnut wafers and filled with whipped cream. Howard was very funny and self deprecating throughout the class. We were all laughing at regular intervals and he made the atmosphere light and comfortable. As in the previous class, Howard demonstrated the steps of the recipe before we went over to the baking stations and had a go ourselves.
I baked in a pair with a lovely lady called Bev who had been bought the class as a Christmas gift from her husband. It was really nice to bake with someone else, to have a chat and bake together. Howard was pottering around the group to help us when we got stuck. So we felt reassured that the cakes would turn out well. He even brought his own stencils from home so we could finish off the cake with either a Bake With A Legend logo, or a coffee cup. I went for the logo and Howard applied the stencil and dusted the cocoa on everyone's cake for them which was a fantastic personal touch!
At the end of the class we sat down to relax with a glass of prosecco or orange juice. Howard served us a slice of the cake he had made during the demonstration. It was absolutely delicious! And this is coming from someone who doesn't even like coffee! We also got to chat more with Howard and ask him questions. He told us all about his GBBO experience and what he'd been up since the show ended. He also signed copies of his book and happily posed for photos with the group.
I had a brilliant time at the cake making class, and I loved every moment of getting to meet and bake with these two fabulous GBBO stars. Even as an experienced baker, I learnt new things and feel inspired to try out new recipes. I think the Bake With A Legend classes are suitable for bakers of any level of experience as you are guided every step of the way. There's always have help at hand to steer you in the right direction. The atmosphere of each class is so comfortable and welcoming that you don't feel like any question is a stupid one. Essentially, if you love baking and you love The Great British Bake Off, you're going to love Bake With A Legend!
If you want to find out more and see what classes are coming up in your area, visit the Bake With A Legend website.
NB. I attended the classes free of charge, I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
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