C recently visited for a girly gossip and afternoon tea so I got a little ambitious and decided to make scones. It wasn’t a bad outcome but I was definitely missing a trick or two. So recently, when timeout offered me a day lesson to learn with Caroline Hope in her traditional English tea time baking class I was there.
My sister T shared the experience held in Caroline’s home in a lovely area of London. When we arrived Caroline greeted us and we dutifully dashed upstairs to drop off our coats and bags and wash out hands.
Once wrapped in an apron we got busy learning all about shortbread, following the recipe and adding tips/reminders as we went through. Everything is done by hand with Caroline so you learn the process of the mix.
Once you understand what is meant to happen she is all for electric mixers and food processors! The shortbread was incredibly simple and next we moved onto the Victoria sponge cake. The biggest tip here is to pre mix you eggs, and slowly add them in waiting until the mixture is completely mixed before adding more.
Weighing is also incredibly important for sponge cakes. Caroline informed us that traditionally the butter, sugar and flour weight would have been measured the same as the two eggs and this is why Victoria sponges can seem like tricky customers.
Finally we did our scones. Turns out I hadn’t got mine that wrong and the only difference would have been to ensure I didn’t over handle the mixture next time.
Whist everything was baking we had a quick lesson in oven use. The most important part of an oven is its insulation and you will more of this the more you pay. However as we don’t use our ovens daily anymore they often aren’t preheated correctly before use resulting in inconsistent cooking and baking. Caroline advises to pre hear your oven for at least an hour if you are baking. Also to invest in a cheap thermometer so you can determine what the real temperature in your oven is. This was a great tip for T and I as we now know our oven light goes off approximately 20°-30°C too early when we are baking.
You get to finish by eating all the yummy treats and cucumber sandwiches Caroline made earlier. Now everything I bake is coming out perfectly!
Find Caroline Hopes’ classes here – http://www.teaandscones.co.uk/
I wasn’t paid to do this review but had a great time and have been baking perfect goodies ever since!