Monday, 2 April 2012

A Day At Leith's Cooking School London

Making my first Battenberg with my baking partner Lauren!

I finally booked a baking class. For months I had been scouring the internet in search of cooking classes that would expertise-ify my amateur baking knowledge. Yes there is Le Cordon Bleu, day classes in Paris, and the best of the best in New York City, but this damn gluten free baking kept sliding into my recipes - and I say damn in the most endearing and loving of ways. But none of the major schools were offering one-off gluten free baking classes (get with it Cordon Bleu!) I guess gluten free still has that cringe-worthy stigma attached to it - of hippies smelling of overcooked peas and tempeh. What's tempeh? Nevermind...

Then, from a recommendation by former model, Leith's Cookery Graduate, and TV Baking Chef Lorraine Pascale, I came across Leith's Cooking School in London. And guess what...they offered gluten free baking classes.

We started the day making a quintessential English cake called a Battenberg (gluten free of course.) For myself and two other North Americans in the class, I had never heard of a Battenberg before, but was delighted to make it for the first time.

Cutting the marzipan to size to roll over the Battenberg.

Our teacher Adriana had a relaxed and approachable style of teaching, a hefty list of credentials, and offered some key gluten free baking tips... Below, she showed us how to assemble the Battenberg.

Assembling the Battenberg.

Adriana Tip 1: When asked to cream butter and sugar in a recipe, don't just throw them together and beat with a mixer. First, it is essential the butter is at room temperature (unless of course you're making pastry.) Then slowly add the sugar bit by bit to the batter as you beat with a mixer. You'll get a gorgeous light and fluffy batter in the end, and even more so, cake!

Adriana Tip 2: You can substitute eggs for milk in baking if wanting to make the recipe dairy-free. Experiment with adding an egg or two to suit the recipe. Here, you must separate the eggs into whites and yolks. Beat your yolks until you have a texture similar to custard. Next beat your whites until soft peaks form. Then, with a metal spoon, gently combine the whites with the yolks little by little until all incorporated. This might be added work, but will give your cake/cookies a lovely texture, and make it dairy free!

For other tips, you'll just have to take the class...

My very first Battenberg complete!

They also provided the most outstanding lunch... Yes, this fruit is real.

Every review requires a downside of course, and if I had to pick at something, it would be that the ovens didn't keep their heat properly, so some of our recipes didn't turn out as planned - Alas! Oh, and sore feet...

Chocolate cupcakes in process

The class ran from 10am-4pm and included an hour lunch (with wine!) We baked four recipes:
Chocolate Cupcakes
Lemon Squares
Chocolate Fig & Pistachio Biscotti

At the end of the day, we got a booklet of recipes made in the class, including a few more, and a certificate of completion. Cost £150.

Looking a bit dishevelled after a day of baking, but pleased!


  1. If they only offer gluten-free cooking class I will surely enroll to their class. The first lesson I want to know is how to cook gluten free pasta because I love eating pasta whenever there’s an occasion.


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