We sat down with one of our superstar chefs’ Laura to discuss her Great British Bake Off-inspired challenge that she bought to her site. Each week Laura has been coming up with and baking her own version of whatever delicious treat the GBBO contestants have been challenged to make. From classic sponge cakes filled with freshly made strawberry compote to Mexican Concha – there is nothing Laura won’t try! Read on to find out more about the challenge, and who knows, one day we might see Laura on our screens…
So Laura, what got you into baking?
My interest in baking started early when I made apple pies, fairy cakes, and lemon meringue with my mum and nan. We had a Mary Berry cookbook that I loved flicking through while looking at the pictures, begging to have a go at making something!
My mum would also record on video the Mary Berry tv show so that I could watch it with her. My interest in cakes and baking didn’t end there – it continued to grow right through primary and secondary school where I did a couple of sugar craft classes. While I was studying my mum would also take me to the cake show at the NEC where I was treated to a couple of tools and equipment. I would be totally mesmerised by the creations that the contestants submitted.
When my studies at sixth form were coming to an end and we were being encouraged to apply to university, all I wanted to do was bake, so instead, I took an apprenticeship in professional cookery doing a patisserie and confectionary qualification. The rest was history as they say!
What would you say is your favourite thing about baking?
I love that baking is so therapeutic and frustrating at the same time! I am passionate about creating something that people love to eat and enjoy. Baking is incredibly challenging and sometimes you have a vision in your head and it doesn’t always work out, but other times I am completely bowled over and proud of what I have created.
Why did you decide to follow the bake-off series this year with your own creations?
I have watched the bake–off since day one. It had Mary Berry on so obviously I was going to watch it! I tune in every week. The contestants get better and better on the show, I’m not sure how they aren’t professionals already!
How was the challenge received by clients?
Oh, they are loving it! They are coming in each week now asking what I will be making from this week…am I going to give the technical challenge a go or the signature? Once the product goes out to the client it usually gets snapped up which is great, as some also like to buy a couple to take home for their partners who have also got just as invested in the challenge.
What has been your favourite to bake?
I think the Pain Au Raisin so far, as this is the kind of bake I love to do; dedicating time to the process of making the product. Seeing the lamination of the butter between the layers is super satisfying and after taking them out of the oven I was incredibly happy with them, not to mention the aroma around the café was to die for. I love pain au raisin but have never actually made them, now I have the bug for making more viennoiserie products!
What are your baking plans once the bake-off is finished?
To continue to bake! I really want to work on developing and honing in on skills that I’d like to perfect all while continuing to make our clients happy.
Do you have any tips for beginner bakers?
Patience. Baking is tricky and it doesn’t always work out, I could have made something 100 times but will still make mistakes if I’m not concentrating. Use social media, YouTube, and cookbooks, you can find a multitude of inspiration and techniques from these resources we now have available. And if it is really your passion - follow it, you never know where you may end up! Oh, and most definitely taste everything you make, that is of course the best part!