If like me you’re food obsessed but need an activity to occupy you between meals then look no further! I booked this class as a Christmas present to my mum, as I thought it would be something fun for us to do together. In all honestly I didn’t know what to expect.. for all I knew it could’ve just been a time filler between breakfast and lunch! How wrong I was though – it was an incredible experience and one I’ll be repeating in the future for sure!
Originally from Denmark (and a fellow Ole & Steen lover!), Maria started out her career in the corporate world before taking the plunge and deciding to pursue her true passion – baking! Having previously run professional classes at a cooking school she has recently downsized to run classes from the comfort of her own kitchen – and a beautiful one it is too. Located in the beautiful area of West Hampstead, it’s bright and modern with a beautiful warm log fire and natural light streaming in – an Instagrammer’s dream!
As soon as we arrived we were greeted with mugs of tea and coffee served up in a beautiful mugs while we waited for the others to arrive. On a slate sat some freshly baked banana crumble muffins for us to tuck into before we started – thankfully we were first (of course I was early!) so we had plenty of time to savour them as they were absolutely heavenly. Quite honestly the best muffins I have ever, ever eaten – no exaggeration. If this was any indication of what was to come we were in for an incredible three hours. Even my mum (who often finds cakes too sweet, dry, dense or heavy) loved them – we couldn’t believe how light and moist (sorry!) they were, and once the rest of the group arrived I don’t think we stopped raving about them for the entirety of the session!
To my surprise the group was tiny – there were just four of us! It was such a perfect number – so lovely and intimate that by the end of it (cheesy as this is!) we felt like a real team, we were all able to ask Maria as many questions as we wanted to and working in pairs meant we all got to take part in every part of the baking process whilst making some (surprisingly difficult!) tasks such as filling piping bags so much easier.
We crammed a surprising amount of baking into the three hour session, coming away with three separate bakes which we’d worked on from start to finish (with the exception of making the ganache for the truffles, but that was the same process as that used to make the ganache to fill the macaroons). Despite working our way through so many items the whole session felt so relaxed though, with us taking our time to do everything, ask questions and stop for many a muffin break – Maria had kindly baked a huge batch of her wonderful muffins!
We started by making the mango white chocolate ganache to fill our macaroons. White chocolate buttons sat in a bowl beside cream and fresh mango puree which we heated in big metal pots on the stove – I was thankful for the banana muffins to stop me from scoffing the giant buttons whilst waiting for the cream to warm! Once fully mixed in we spread the ganache into a tin and left it to chill in the fridge to set.
Ganache done, we made a start on the macaroons. This was the part I was most excited about, as they have a real reputation for being difficult to make and I’d frequently wondered if the method was really complex enough to warrant a one-pound-a-bite price tag at so many top patisseries. Remarkably the whole process seemed incredibly straight forward. I’m not sure if it was due to Maria’s wonderful guidance or the ‘more simple’ recipe she’d chosen for the meringue shell but honestly the whole process from start to finish was wonderfully simple and the macaroons tasted incredible (if I do say so myself!).
I feel like macaroons are a tough thing to get right and people have different preferences, but for me they should have a crispy outer shell, a chewy middle and a beautifully balanced filling that’s sweet but not overpowering given how delicate macaroons are. I (slightly reluctantly I must confess!) gave a couple to friends to try and they wholeheartedly agreed.. I’m already excited to try and remake them myself at home! Admittedly whilst they’re not difficult to make they are time consuming and a little fiddly, but if they come out half as good as the batch we made in the class I’ll be delighted!
The macaroons need to sit to allow them to set slightly before being put into the oven, so while we waited we made the cake mix for our lime, raspberry and pistachio financiers. The mix was a standard sponge, but the addition of lime gave it such a refreshing lift, and the raspberries with the pistachios created a stunning colour (and flavour!) combination.
When it came to fill the macaroons we split up, with one of us piping ganache into the macaroon shells and the other creating lovely hazelnut praline truffles with some chocolate ganache which Maria had prepared before the class. I was lucky enough to be on macaroon duty – I filled them with seriously thick layers of the glorious mango white chocolate ganache while my mum created beautiful truffles 🙂
Our last task was icing the sponge cakes, and Maria had devised the simplest (but most delicious) cream cheese frosting. It was perfect for my mum and I who aren’t big fans of overly sweet buttercream which is usually piled onto so many shop-bought cakes. We topped them with freeze dried raspberries and stunningly green pistachio flakes (I’m sure when I buy pistachios they’re so dull in comparison) and then it was time to package up our bakes to take home.
Overall it was an incredible morning and I wouldn’t think twice about going back to do another class. Maria runs a whole range of classes from bread to cakes and pastries, as well as themed classes at certain times of the year (she ran a Christmas themed baking session and there’s an upcoming Easter class which looks amazing!) and can accommodate big groups for hen dos as well as the intimate classes of four that she runs from her own home.
Best of all you get to take away all of your bakes packed up neatly in boxes with a lovely tote bag to make carrying them round London easy if like us you have a full day of activities! It’s not the kind of class where you take home a couple of cakes either, we took four full boxes home – I think we made around twenty macaroons, twelve cakes and two full boxes of truffles!
Link to her website, where you can see upcoming courses: https://www.bakewithmaria.com
This is in no way sponsored – I just had an amazing time and I’d recommend this class to anyone!