As much as I love cooking, I’m not the sort of person who feels comfortable making cakes. When I got invited to The Big London Bake I quite openly told Tanya, the blogger I went with, that I would be useless. I tried to make Yorkshire puddings for the first time yesterday and they didn’t rise (although I fully blame the gluten-free flour for that), and I realised I just hate baking because you have to follow the instructions so carefully. The thing I love about cooking as opposed to baking is that you can dash a bit of anything in there when the moment takes you.
Nonetheless, I was excited to give The Big London Bake a try, because I love trying new things. You might have seen my review of the pasta making kit from Sous Chef recently and noticed how much I do enjoy cooking. Even if I get it wrong, I still enjoy it. The Big London Bake is at the back of a pub in tooting called The Castle. Anyone who enjoys Bake Off will surely jump up and down with excitement because the tent is the same. There are two-person stations with all of the equipment you need to make whatever it is you are making that session.
We were making “simple” sponge cakes that were Australian animals (The Big London Bake kindly donated money from these sessions to the Australian bush fires). We chose to make a Koala because it looked like the easiest one. I mean, they are pretty simple animals, right? Our class was with the head baker Nyssa and she made the session so fun! It’s fairly easy to follow, as the instructor will give you instructions in stages, and then set a time limit for you to finish that stage. Unfortunately, the reason our cake was a bit below average was that I have the attention span of a five-year-old. I had gone wrong within about four minutes of starting to be honest. If I wasn’t with Tanya, I feel we would have had no cake at all. We had an hour and a half which doesn’t sound long enough, but your time is used so efficiently that you can make an entire sponge cake AND decorate it during that time frame.
When we were cooking the sponge, I accidentally turned the oven off by leaning on it. So not only did our cake not rise, but it took ages to cook once we turned the oven back on and we also had to put a huge fan in front of it before we were able to decorate it. Another thing I have forgotten to mention is that The Big London Bake cater to food allergies. We had a gluten-free station as it is something I can’t eat during a flare-up of my endometriosis. But they didn’t just have basic gluten-free ingredients, thy had gluten-free decorations, biscuits and loads of other stuff so that you don’t miss out on anything the people making standard cakes get to use.
After the cake had FINALLY cooled down, we got to decorate it. This is the point where I realised how seriously un-artistic I am. I thought that our Koala was cute, in an ugly sort of way. I don’t think there is much chance of me giving up my career in advertising to work as a baker, but Nyssa said it didn’t taste too bad so maybe there is hope yet? One thing I will say is that I haven’t ever enjoyed doing something I am terrible at so much! I’ll be going back with my friends at some point.
You can book The Big London Bake online and see the prices and sessions.
*I was invited as a plus one with Tanya to review this venue for The Live Review.