Kitchen tips from the Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite and ao.com
I was lucky to host a meeting of my cake club at John Whaite’s Kitchen early this year and we all loved it. The former barn has been kitted out with the best kitchen equipment and invoked serious kitchen envy in all of us. So when AO invited me to back to bake with the Great British Bake Off winner himself, I was excited to finally get stuck in to some baking there.
It was the eve of the Great British Bake Off final so we were all pretty excited to create our own cakes which even the formidable Mary Berry would be proud of. Our cake was to be a gingerbread latte swiss roll with a mirror glaze and tempered chocolate – and John was there to take us through it step by step.
The actual cake was quite a simple recipe- a genoise sponge enriched with golden syrup and winter spices, spread with a coffee-fuelled mascarpone filling. I would have never thought to pair the spice with coffee but it was one of the tastiest combos I have ever tasted.
Genoise can be a fragile thing, so I was surprised to see that we would be making it with the whisk attachment on a Kitchen Aid. I have had my trusty Kitchen Aid for many years now and I always use the beater when making cake. So I was amazed when John showed us that we could use the whisk to fold the batter and not knock all of the air out.
Gently add the flour to the top of the wet mixture. Mix on the lowest speed until just combined then whack it up to full for 2-3 seconds and stop! It’s scary but it works!
Top Tip #2
Tap your swiss roll tin three times on each side before putting it in the oven. It removes any air pockets.
Top Tip #3
When you’re peeling the parchment paper off your swiss roll (and it should always be parchment apparently) use the edge of the tin to gently guide it off. No more bits of paper stuck to your base!
With a chiller cabinet on hand, we were able to cool the cakes in no time, allowing us to get to the serious business of decoration.
John took the scare-factor out of tempering by showing us how to do it using a granite off cut (or your granite worktop), a paint scraper and a wooden spoon. We made it a bit more glitzy by pouring the tempered chocolate over some gold and silver leaf and then cracking the set chocolate into random shards. It was a really effective finish.
Going crazy with the mirror glaze, glitter spray and cocoa nibs to decorate our swiss rolls was great fun, and of course we got to chat Bake Off with John while we enjoyed some delicious home made soup and the most Instagrammable cheeseboard ever!
We also got to hear about some of the small appliances that AO sell. I’d always assumed that they were all about large white goods, but it turns out that you get your hands on anything from stand mixers to coffee machines as well.
It was great to geek out over the tech spec of an oven with people who understand my need to talk about my desire for a new oven with sucky extraction thingies and a decent door!
At the end of the night I had a magnificent cake and some top tips to take home with me, along with (another) copy of John’s latest book and some great Joseph Joseph baking utensils which I already love. The office had the cake, which was devoured with masses of enthusiasm and I am planning my next swiss roll for my cake club so I can show off my new found skills.
Thank you so much to AO for inviting me and to John for being the host with the most. And to Jane, who washed up so much I nearly went on ao.com and bought her a dishwasher myself!