For anyone who is a fan of the Great British Bake Off, this London experience is an absolute must. Wannabe contestants can now live out their dream inside a replica of the GBBO tent, with 90 minutes on the clock to bake something delicious. Previous contestants including Rav Bansal have shown interest in attending, although Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are unfortunately yet to make an appearance.
I was invited by Love Pop Ups London to review this experience and unleash whatever baking skills I had in me (not a lot!)
Located a 2 minute walk from Tooting Broadway Station, lies The Big London Bake marquee, tucked away at the back of The Castle pub’s garden. The tent is a replica of the one you see on the GBBO, and so I was very excited to step inside and begin baking! I can imagine this to be a lot more social in the summer, as the garden is a great place to meet and chat to people beforehand.
As we entered the tent, we were met with ten work stations, complete with mixers, ovens, ingredients, and recipes with instructions. We were put into teams of two (I had my friend Sammy with me) and so we chose a station, donned our aprons, and began familiarising ourselves with the equipment.
We had a professional baker on hand to offer tips and advice, and ultimately help us stay on track throughout the evening. She also made it clear that she would be judging our cakes at the end and announcing the winning duo, so the competition was on! I wouldn’t describe myself as the greatest chef in the world, although I did get an A* in GCSE Food Technology (winning), but baking is another territory altogether. I hoped Sammy would be able to take the lead, but when she put the first set of ingredients into the wrong bowl, I hadn’t a clue what we’d end up producing!
WHAT DID WE MAKE?
Our task was to make a Battenberg cake; a light sponge cake covered in marzipan.
Our first step was to make the cake mixture. We cracked the eggs into a large bowl containing sugar, slowly adding in our flour as we whisked them together. Once the mixture was of the right consistency, we poured it into two separate tins, for our two sponges, and added our colours and flavourings.
There was a huge shelving display of various colourings, flavourings, and decorations to choose from. We decided on a ‘sunset’ theme and chose red colouring for one of our sponge cakes, and orange for the second. As for the flavours, we kept it quite simple, choosing vanilla essence for one half, and strawberry flavouring for the other. After stirring the colourings and flavourings into the mixture, we placed our trays into the oven for 20 minutes.
As the cake was rising, we created our jam. We crushed the berries into a saucepan and placed the pan on heat, until the juice from the berries had melted and was in liquid form. As the jam was cooling, our mixture had risen, and it was time to assemble the cake!
We cut each of the cakes into three strips and “glued” them together with the jam, alternating the sponges for a chequered effect.
As the cake was waiting, we rolled out our marzipan, using the majority of it to wrap up our cake. Unfortunately, in hindsight, we didn’t wrap the cake up tight enough and so there were spaces in between our sponges, which didn’t look great! Next time, we know to make sure it’s super tight!
Once our cake was wrapped up, it was now time for the decorating. We decided on a beach theme and luckily had kept some marzipan leftover which we used to add a variety of features to our cake. Features included making palm trees, which we had sitting on top of sand dunes that were made out of biscuit crumbs we found in one of the tins on the shelf. We used some blue colouring to construct the sea and created an array of sea creatures from icing cutters including starfish, sea horses and crabs.
We tried to make the most of what we could use, and although other people’s cakes were more simplistic and elegant, we had a lot of fun experimenting with the tools available.
This was our finished piece – not bad for someone who never bakes!
We brought all our cakes to the front for judging and the winners (definitely not us haha) were awarded the star baker’s wooden spoon. It was great to see everyone’s cakes as they were all so different and I definitely took away some tips.The only downside to the evening was the feeling of being rushed. I noticed the teacher kept coming over and hurrying us up, which was a little annoying, but that aside, we had a great evening, and got to take our bakes home which was even better! Our cake tasted delicious, so I was very proud of myself and Sammy.
I would definitely recommend this experience to those who love to bake! They change their bakes every month so I will have to return to try another one!
For more info and availability, check out their website: The Big London Bake
* I received complimentary tickets in exchange for a review. Views are my own.