Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Category Archives: Cooking classes

Learning To Bake Like Mel- Festive Cupcake Classes

With the popularity of cupcakes still steady, rather than buy a festive batch, the people I spent last Monday night with decided to make their own.

As a Baked By Mel cake lover, I was invited along to Mel’s first class at Rudry Village Hall. The class was fully booked so I took my seat with 12 ladies at a table laid out neatly with icing, cutters, sprinkles and edible spray paint.

Mel makes fantastic cakes so I had no doubt that we were going to go away with some lovely creations but I have to say I was far more pleased with mine than I expected to be. They looked really professional but it was all down to Mel’s designs.

We made four cake designs (two of each) and then we had four ‘free’ cakes that we could decorate as we liked with coloured balls and spray, totally 12 cakes to take home. Mel split us into three groups to start with so that we worked on three different designs and then rotated. This worked well in terms of sharing equipment as we were quite a large group.

We were shown pictures of each design and a brief demonstration and Mel was on hand to help if we needed it. The designs were surprisingly easy, even for someone as impatient as me, and very effective.

Even though we were shown what to do, there was still some creative license. We were shown how to make the components for example, the ponsetter flowers, but we could decorate the cakes with them however we liked.

Other designs needed to be followed more precisely. I thought it was a good blend of doing your own thing and learning new techniques.

Once we had worked on three designs, Mel gave us step by step instructions on how to make the topper for the amazing Father Christmas cake. With all of our design components ready to go, we were talked through the techniques for icing the cakes with a nozzle and piping bag and then we were let loose.

As I said, I was really pleased with my cakes which looked especially nice all together in a box. Mel was friendly and approachable and even though we didn’t know each other, she made us all feel relaxed.

There are still spaces on Mel’s next Christmas Cupcake Class on 10th December at £30 each. The price includes tea and cake at break time and the 12 cakes that you get to take away which I think is very reasonable for a three hour class. Please contact Mel directly to book a place.

You can read my review of Baked by Mel here.


CUPCAKE WEEK: FRIDAY- Cupcake Decorating With The Happy Cupcake Kitchen

With the cupcake craze still going strong, cupcake classes are making their entrance into the market and are proving popular not only with people wanting to learn how to do it themselves but as a social event. Groups of friends are getting together and it is becoming a popular activity for Hen-do’s.

As part of my cupcake week feature, Sara from The Happy Cupcake Kitchen very kindly ran a cupcake decorating class for me and two friends in her beautiful kitchen.

I do bake quite often but the decoration part is my downfall. I’m not patient enough or skilled enough and I get cross when I can’t do something immediately and perfectly so I tend to avoid cupcakes in my repertoire and just admire the ones that other people make. However, I was excited to give this a try.

Sara was friendly and welcoming making us cups of tea and passing around macaroons. She chatted confidently and made us feel very at home. Before we went along to the class, I was asked to pick a theme for the cakes from a long list or to come up with my own. I chose ‘retro’ and Sara had already created some retro style cupcakes for us to start decorating. The cakes were a multicoloured sponge so Sara started the class by showing us how to make them using batters died different colours.

We worked at Sara’s kitchen table where individual stations were laid out for us with all the equipment we would need for the day. There were also ample supplies of colouring paste and ready-made butter icing and fondant icing.

We got to work dying our icing, starting with the butter icing and Sara showed us how to pipe, resulting in some quirky multi coloured designs as we mixed the colours together in the piping bag.

Moving on, we set to work dying the fondant icing for the next set of cakes. Sara encouraged us to try to think about how the box of cakes would look as a whole. I never thought about this but I’m glad she pointed it out because they looked really nice in the box and if I’d just been let loose to use all manner of colours and styles it just wouldn’t have worked.

Sara showed us how to cover our cakes in fondant icing. This is more tricky than it looks if you want to get it smooth and finger print free!

Once we’d covered the cakes, we were introduced to a range of cutters, ways to imprint patterns and letters and pens with edible ink. After some demonstrations from Sara we were free to make up our own designs. Some things were easier than others but it was a lot of fun playing around with different ideas.

When I bake I’m usually alone but I had such a good time doing it with friends and chatting and laughing as we decorated. I can see that with a bottle of wine for a hen-do or a birthday party it would be brilliant. Sara was a great teacher and she just seemed like one of the group (albeit a more talented member of the group when it came to cake).

I didn’t think I’d learn a lot from a cupcake decorating class but I did and even if you think of yourself as pretty knowledgable, it’s still great fun. I’d love to do this again and I highly recommend it for a group of friends. My cakes didn’t turn out too bad either!

A class like this is £48 and you get to decorate 12 cakes which you take away with you. It icludes the use of all equipment and ingredients and we had 4 hours worth of tuition. Cupcake parties are £20 per person and you get 4 cakes to decorate and take away. Sara also does children’s parties at £16 per person.

You can find out more on The Happy Cupcake Kitchen website.

Thanks to Sara for having us.

It’s a Cake Off! Cake Decorating at Red Hot World Buffet

Last week Red Hot World Buffet in Cardiff launched their new ‘Cake-away’ service and to celebrate the event, I was invited along to take part in a cake off!

Head Pastry Chef, Darshan Choudhari has designed eight cakes ready for customers to order and take away to enjoy at home. The cakes are have been designed so that there is something for everybody from a classic Strawberry Cheesecake to a more exotic Pineapple Passion.

Photo by Lauren Mahoney

I joined Cardiff bloggers, Helen Limbrick, Babettesffest and Cardiff Food Project along with two competition winners to sample some of the cakes and to decorate our own. The morning started with a demonstration from Darshan on how to make the perfect baked strawberry cheesecake which he made look effortless and then it was over to us! With tables full of icing, cream, ganache, unlimited supplies of fruit and the all important chocolate and other toppings, we were left to get creative.

I do enjoy baking but nevertheless, my impatience usually gets the better of me and my decorating skills wain slightly after a time. Neat and symmetrical is not my forte so I decided to go for ‘effortlessly random’ which is a stance I usually take when dressing and doing my hair on account of my lack of skills to make anything match and look ordered.

It was great fun being let loose on all the toppings and I think I got carried away with my three layer chocolate cake covered in ganache and coated with cream. Sickly was not the word! To cover my sorry attempt at icing, I topped my cake with randomly placed fruit and chocolate pieces and dashed almonds around the outside to hide the mess I had made with the cream.

I have to say, I don’t think my attempt was all that bad. Obviously it wouldn’t pass as a professional offering but considering the resources and the time, I was fairly happy. Saying that though, I did get pipped to the post by a small child!

You can view the range of cakes on offer from Red Hot World Buffet on their website.

Mr V cooks with the Purple Poppadom!

You may have gathered that Mr V and I have a soft spot for The Purple Poppadom. I would go as far as to say that it is my favourite restaurant of the moment in Cardiff. It’s the kind of food we love. Refined, beautifully presented and packed full of flavour. It pushes the boundaries of Indian food with a touch of fusion. It’s the kind of food we like to experiment with when cooking at home.

When the Purple Poppadom announced their cooking competition, my husband Ben (Mr V to this blog) was straight in the kitchen preparing his entry. Contestants had to design a dish, or cook one they knew well and present a description and photo of it to the Purple Poppadom. The best three, would then be selected to cook in a heat with Anand George in the Purple Poppadom kitchen and then go on to cook with Anand at a food festival.

After a few experiments and some nice meals for me, Ben settled on his Indian British fusion entry of spiced pan-fried seabass served on crushed potatoes with a toasted coconut masala sauce, asparagus and a chilli and cardamom yorkshire pudding.

Ben was selected as a winner and after a day in the Purple Poppadom kitchen learning Anand George’s prize-winning dish, Tiffin Seabass with Curry Leaf Mashed Potato, Ben was invited to cook it at a demonstration as part of The Welsh Menu.

Cooking with Anand was a great experience for Ben and he learnt some useful techniques and tips. More than cooking in front of a room full of people, Ben was excited to be able to learn from someone he considers to be such a great chef.

I enjoyed watching the demo and I am very excited that now Ben will be able to cook this wonderful dish at home.

Baking Bread With The One Mile Bakery

After my recent delivery from the One Mile Bakery (see my review for more details) I was excited to be invited to the first ever bread making class run at Elisabeth’s house in Pontcanna. After the success of the deliveries and having met Elisabeth, I was certain the classes were going to be great and I wasn’t disappointed.

I arrived to some familiar faces which made the day extra fun as I was baking with fab food bloggers Nicki (Cardiffbites), Bev (Eats for Wales) and Mark (Corpulent Capers). Elisabeth welcomed us and showed her into her kitchen where she quickly busied herself making us tea.

Four bloggers ready to start baking

The day was jam-packed with lunch included and although we made a lot of different bread, it was still relaxed and we managed to get time to chat and gossip. Elisabeth is an excellent teacher and her passion for bread shone through with plenty of sniffing, prodding and an unrivaled knowledge.

The class we attended An Introduction to Baking Bread and was designed to show us the key stages of baking and to allow us to understand the different types of bread as well as the key techniques involved. We made four loaves in the time we were there. Elisabeth started off by talking us through different flours. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never paid a great deal of attention to what type of flour I use which is probably why in the past my bread has been nothing to shout about but from now on, this will be a consideration.

Elisabeth explained the benefits of spelt flour for people who have problems digesting bread (i.e. me) so when we got to choose the flour for our first loaf, I naturally went for spelt. We all used different flour but followed the same process. It was much quicker and much easier than I expected and I felt that I really learnt a lot.

We learnt how to make a well in our flour in order to add the yeast and the water and how it should look when it has been left the rest.

After 15 minutes came the kneading before resting it. Elisabeth gave us lots of tips on how we know when the dough had been kneaded enough and timings. My loaf turned out much better than I had expected and I will definitely make this easy little number again at home.

While making the first loaf, waiting for the yeast to do its magic, we had a taste test to compare some well-known supermarket bread to Elisabeth’s loaf.There was obviously no contest but having looked at the ingredients in the shop bought bread, no wonder I can’t eat bread without getting ill! Vinegar? Not to mention the E numbers.

With the first loaf ‘resting’ it was time for some of Elisabeth’s apricot bread. Even without butter this was lovely (although of course I added lashings of butter!).

The second loaf was a simple rye variety. This one was even easier as it didn’t need kneading. Rye is apparently easier to digest than a wheat loaf as it has different gluten structures. It also has a stronger flavour so works well with spices. I chose to add some cumin and ground coriander which gave it a very unusual flavour but delicious!

The star of the show for me was the ridiculously yummy bacon, red onion and balsamic bread. I was dying to try this when it came out of the oven and as soon as I got home, this was the one I broke into. It was delicious, even if I do say so myself!

Last of all we made a round Pain de Campagne. This was a winner in my house and looked very professional thanks to Elisabeth’s floured circular bowls and some serious slashing! This was one of my favourites and I was amazed that we could make something that looked so professional in an Introduction to Baking Bread.

The class was so much fun and the setting was lovely. I felt so relaxed baking in Elisabeth’s kitchen. It felt like we were learning from a friend rather than from a teacher. For a nosy person like me, baking in the home is the best place for something like this. Not only does it make it more personal and informal but I got to have a peek at someone elses house! What a beautiful house it is too!

I highly recommend this class and would love to try out some of the other classes on offer. There are a list of classes on the One Mile Bakery website and for the amount of time and the amount of bread I went home with, not to mention Elisabeth’s excellent teaching, I think it is value for money and a great day out.

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