Ready, steady, cake – Cookery School

I love cooking and baking so when I was invited via the Cookery School to do whatever class I wished I just had to opt for cakes as I have a sweet tooth. Firstly though let me explain more about the Cookery School which is based at Portland Street just of Regents Street in London.

Cookery School at Little Portland

Cookery School is about sustainability which has always been a key part of Cookery School at Little Portland Street’s ethos. Since 2003, the schools founder Rosalind Rathouse, has been inspiring and teaching students how to cook food with confidence using her principle-led teaching approach that provides sustainable learning.

Cookery School is about learning how to cook and been sustainable. They provide a number of different varied classes and courses throughout the year from sausage making to cake baking.

Their approach to food is simple, modern and imaginative. They love to share their ideas for delicious home-cooking and are constantly finding fresh sources of inspiration to bring to their classes, through their menus and suppliers.

At Cookery School they love to create a fun atmosphere. Whilst providing the skills necessary to make anyone become a confident and independent cook as all their classes having a very high proportion of hands on practice. Plus every class involves tasting all the food that has been made, further enhancing your ability to become a skilled home cook.

Click here to view all their classes.

Click here to view all their courses.

Cookery School time

I got up early on a Saturday morning to head on down into London to learn all about cakes. So skipping breakfast for a scone instead at Cookery School I headed on down to Cookery School at Little Portland to learn all about cake making.

Their Cake Class

During their cake making class bakers will get to explore different methods of making cakes and learn the all-important rules for successful cake baking. Bakers will learn a varied of cakes from buttered ones, oil based cakes and quick cakes plus how to prep and add toppings to freshly baked cakes.

With all classes bakers will be welcomed with an aperitif and a substantial snack before baking. Some cakes are demonstrated and others will be hands-on. As the class is short a few of the more straightforward cakes are pre-made so that you bakers can taste them and see the appearance and texture. At the end of the class everyone gets to enjoy a cake feast and take home what they have made.

All the bakers on the day will learn and taste all the below cakes:

  • Victoria sponge cake
  • Lemon cake
  • Devil’s food cake
  • Olive oil & sauternes cake
  • Swiss roll
  • Carrot cake
  • Basic sponge
  • Gluten free orange cake
  • Chocolate ganache and a variety of icings

Read, Steady, Bake

As I left behind the hustle and bustle of Regent Street and turned into Little Portland Street, any reservations about the day ahead vanished.

I entered a well decked out Kitchen with state of the art equipment and warmly greeted. We were given a choice of lockers to store our belongings into before starting the morning with a freshly prepared scone and a hot drink before.

The scone was divine, as was fluffy and very light. In fact it is most probably the best scone I have eaten in a long time.

With my belly full it was now time to learn to bake. Ghalid introduced himself and then taught us all about how to make a perfect sponge cake by giving us a hands on demonstration. Taking turns most of us had a go in creating the perfect sponge from a whip of the mixture to spreading of the jam.

Then we learnt about cupcakes and how to make the perfect topping for them. We all had a go at piping the cake mixture into cupcake holders.

I was the one though to help create the rich chocolate topping for them. I learnt something really useful though instead of cooking the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water he said a easier and quicker more effective way is to add it to warmed up boiled cream (off the heat) and leave it to melt in that instead.

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It was then onto spreading the mixture onto the cupcake.

After these several demonstrations of learning different techniques and how to make certain cakes we were all then told to get ourselves into pairs. I hooked up with a lovely young lady called Erin who loved baking and eating cakes just as much as I do.

Sponge cake

First it was onto making our own sponge.

Basic Sponge Cake

6 ozs (150g) butter
6 ozs (150g) flour
6oz (150g) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs (ought to weigh about 6 ozs or 150g)
a little milk or cream
if required icing sugar for sprinkling over if desired filling of choice

1. Cream the butter and the sugar together until thick and creamy.
2. Beat in the eggs one at a time but do not worry if the mixture looks curdled
3. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder using a spatula or metal spoon. It is important not to stir the mixture but to fold to ensure that as much air as possible is incorporated into the mix.
4. If the mixture looks too firm, add a little milk or cream to it so that it is easy to spread.
5. Divide between to 8″/20cm tins and gently smooth out.
6. Bake in oven 180oC/250oF for about 25 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.
7. Allow to cool on a wire rack to avoid condensation at the bottom of the cake. Remove from tins when no longer warm.
8. The cakes can be sandwiched together with jam and whipped cream, lemon curd on its own or mixed with whipped cream. In season, berries can be sandwiched between a lemon curd cream or plain whipped cream.
9. Icing sugar sprinkled through a fine strainer is the traditional finish on a sponge cake.

We was told by Ghalid that when we are at home we should always have all our ingredients measured out before starting our cake. Luckily today as we was learning all our ingredients were already weighed and laid out for us.

Tips we learnt:

  • If using raising agent such as baking powder or bicarbonate of soda a reaction will occur immediately so it is imperative to place the cake in the oven as soon as possible.
  • When mixing in dry/wet ingredients or egg whites, use as few strokes as possible to blend and to retain the air bubbles. Over mixing will make a cake heavy.

After reading our recipe it was then time to bake.

One of the techniques we learnt from Ghalid was don’t whisk the flour into your mixture but place it in with your mixture and fold and shake your flour into the mixture whilst turning the bowl around after every fold. Why as this method will keep the sponge mixture airy keeping those all important air bubbles.

It did not matter though if we made mistakes as this is all part of learning and a big factor in developing our confidence as I must admit I shook and started to spread my mixture once in the cake tin which I learn is wrong. To make it flat just give a tin a little shake as spreading will reduce the air bubbles within.

Once the sponge came out of the oven we all could test out sponges by prodding with our finger and if it sprung back then it was cooked. Alternatively you could stick a skewer into the cake and if it came out clean then the cake is cooked.

Once the cake had cooled it was then onto spreading the jam onto one of our sponges before placing the other sponge we had made on top, thus creating a Victoria Sponge Cake.

Then it was on with a dusting of ice sugar.

Thankfully there was no soggy bottoms in site showing that Ghalid taught us very well.  

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Grabbing all our ingredients it was time to make one of my favourite cakes which is a Lemon Drizzle.

Lemon cake

2 large or 3 small eggs
4 ozs butter
6 ozs sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons lemon juice
6 ozs flour
grated rind of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons milk

juice of 1 lemon
1 cup icing sugar

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to beat in well
3. Then add the lemon rind and juice.
4. Lightly fold in the flour, baking powder and salt.
5. Gently mix in the milk.
6. Pour the mixture into a floured greased and lined 1lb bread tin and bake for 30 minutes at 325oF/170oC or until skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
7. Remove cake from oven.
8. Whilst still hot, prick well and pour over a syrup made from melting the icing sugar with the lemon juice.
Leave till cold before removing from tin.

Firstly we had to beat the butter and sugar together before adding the eggs one at a time. Then it was in with the flour.

After placing the mixture into a lined cake tin it was then onto making the lemon drizzle icing which is just simply lemon juice and icing sugar.

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Once the cake was ready and out of the oven it was on with the topping. then after it had cooled down it had a lovely crisp shiny finish to the cake making it very irresistible.

Cake Time

After we had made our two cakes it was then time for cake which we all got to try an array of delicious cakes made by Ghalid.

I especially loved his Orange Cake which was moist and very orangery.


The whole day was infused with the tutors expertise and experience. Ghalid did not just explain to us different techniques but he made the class fun and made everyone feel at ease. Calmly dispelling and initial feelings of trepidation, especially where trickier cake making is concerned.

The scones and cakes which Ghalid made for our tea time treat were all cooked to perfection with them all being airy and light.

The Victorian Sponge cake though I had made along with Erin was a little dense but then that is because I over beat in the flour but the lemon cake was divine being airy and very lemony.

As a lover of cooking and baking I found the day completely inspiring and left me armed with plenty of different techniques in how to make a cake.

I highly recommend any class with Cookery School in Portland Street as they are very professional and provide fun courses.


Click here to book.

Thank you to Cookery School for giving me the opportunity to bake many cakes at your school. This experience was complimentary from them to me but all views are of my own honest opinion.

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