The real-life 'Great British Bake Off' by Emilie Wade

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The real-life 'Great British Bake Off' by Emilie Wade

Emilie tells us all about 'cake week', 10am wine lectures and finding her feet on the Leiths Diploma. Foundation Term, Week 4.

What a whirlwind of a week. I am already feeling my confidence build in the kitchen, and I am slowly becoming a little less scared of the dreaded and surprisingly difficult crème anglaise and the fiddly fish filleting. I am definitely starting to exude excitement and feel that ‘chef’s high’, as they call it!

During our third week, I started to feel the exhaustion in full force, so having a three day weekend at the beginning of week four was a complete dream. I was ready to continue all bright eyed and bushy tailed, with freshly cleaned whites, and sharpened knives in hand.

This week was pretty much cake week. I was in my element and felt a tad like I was on the real life Great British Bake Off. My background is in baking so I do have a degree of knowledge, although some things are still pretty tricky to master, as I soon learned.

First up, Swiss roll. Having tried it once before and discovered the problems that can come with it. The fear is that you’ll peel back the baking paper to discover that you’ve taken half the cake off with it, leaving you with something I can only describe as a disastrous mix of cracked sponge and spilling jam. Not ideal. 

With a Swiss roll you need a big dollop of courage when approaching the ‘flippy-over-bit-before-rolling’ stage (technical terms right there!) et voila! You should end up with an outcome that you are actually proud of.

I was so overly excited to bag mine up for my family that I forgot to take a photo, so this Swiss roll (below) belongs to my awesome class mate Connie. What a great swirl!

Wednesday was Meringue day and they are a pretty tricky egg to crack. You whisk egg whites to stiff peaks and then gradually add sugar bit by bit. Sounds super easy right? Maybe, but I’ll put my hands up and say I did over-whisk at one point (shock horror). Those electric hand whisks are powerful things! 

I was back on track soon enough with a fresh set of egg whites. I only practised a small amount of piping in my first few weeks at Leiths, so piping meringues into delicate swirls of daintiness was a shaky mess at first. However, they soon became things of slight beauty (above).

Throughout the week we mastered cakes that were made using the creaming method, which involves whisking the butter and cream until they are light, fluffy and pale. What results is the most glorious, moist and aerated cake. This was a victoria sponge with zesty lemon curd and caster sugar to top it off…

I can’t forget about the main event of the week; the wine exam. Last week we experienced our first wine lecture and then two more in this week, before trying to cram in all the knowledge we had learnt for the multiple choice exam on Thursday. 

During our lectures we learnt about the regions in which each grape grows and how wines are either named after their region or by the variety of grape. We tasted various wines and paired them with things like green apple, cheese, smoked salmon and Madeira cake. I’m starting to realise that wine and food pairings are a pretty crucial part of my training… I’ve also realised that drinking wine at 10am probably isn’t the best idea.   

I have taken so much from my first month at Leiths and feel as though I’m getting into the swing of school life. Things don’t always go to plan in the Leiths kitchen, but you soon find your feet again and come out with a feeling of accomplishment, which is incredibly rewarding and uplifting. 

By Emilie Wade

Instagram: @reallyratherhungry

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