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Friday 2 November 2012

Baking with Maria – The Baking Lab

Words and Photography by Howing Lai

“Did you watch the final of The Great British Bake Off Final?”…”Yes!!! It was so good!!!” were the first words I heard as I arrived at London’s newest bakery school The Baking Lab. There is no doubt that baking is probably one of the coolest things to be doing right now and what better way to boost cool points than learning how to bake. I was invited to a preview evening and having been trained at Le Cordon Bleu London in Pastry, this was right up my street.

The Baking Lab located in St. Johns Wood, North London offer baking classes aimed at novices to keen home bakers in a wide range of classes including:- artisan bread, traditional French pastry (croissants, pain au chocolat, éclairs, millefeuilles, etc), macaroons, and cake baking. 

The school has come on as the next step for owner and keen home baker Maria Mayerhofer who spent three years teaching baking courses at home. She is so passionate about baking that not even being massively pregnant could stop her! Her success hasn’t gone unnoticed either where companies including KitchenAid, Shipton Mill, Kvadrat and Rice.dk have backed her.  

The preview of the focaccia class was excellent, the large turnout of guests were keen to learn how to make focaccia and Emmanuel Hadjiandreou (Artisan baker with over 25 years experience) who is a teaching staff of the bread classes did not disappoint. Emmanuel prepared the foccacia the previous night and left it in the fridge to allow flavours to develop within the dough, a step often neglected by many home bakers. As it was only a preview of the class, the guests shaped the dough by massaging it with olive oil and adding toppings of caramelised onions, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and rosemary (All rather yummy!). At the same time Emmanuel explained to the guests how the dough was made, shaped and also educated on the history of foccacia bread whilst giving plenty of attention to each person. After what felt like an eternity (actually it was only about 30min) waiting for the bread to prove, it was finally ready and in it went into a hot oven, 15/20mins later... voila - super tasty foccacia bread! I had a quick taste of one made by the chef, and I must say it was really delicious.

Classes are excellent valued ranging from £65 to £110 for 3 to 5 hours of teaching and for those who are really enthusiastic, Maria offers a 4 day cooking holiday in the beautiful Villa Boccella, Tuscany. The classes are run in small groups to allow plenty of interaction with the teaching chef. Students also get a copy of the recipe and also to take home the goods so they can brag to their friends and loved ones of their now baking expertises. Honestly if I hadn’t already been to culinary school I would seriously be tempted to take a class here as they are good value for money and really enjoyable, Go on! Give it a try!

The Baking Lab,
2nd floor,
81 Loudoun Road, 
St Johns Wood,

Telephone: - 077 2595 2724

For further information on courses visit the website: - http://www.bakewithmaria.com/courses/

Words and Photography by Howing Lai
British-born Chinese, Howing Lai comes from a family of gourmands from the Midlands, where his father is a renowned dim sum and pastry chef. Graduated in Biochemistry with a Masters in Bioinformatics, Howing decided to leave science to pursue his true passion in life - cooking. Recently graduated from Le Cordon Bleu's Grande Diplome, Howing is now working as a commis-pastry chef at a 5-star London hotel, with an ultimate goal to bring his creative and contemporary interpretation of Chinese cuisine to us one day.

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