I am not a natural born baker – Bake Off bores me and my idea of cake-making normally involves some cheeky cake-buying – so when I found myself one Wednesday afternoon at L’atelier des Chefs cooking school for a Christmas Cake Masterclass with Rachel Allen, to say I felt like a fish out of water would be an understatement.
Rachel started off by demonstrating just how surprisingly easy it is to make a Christmas cake; combining her ingredients, whipping up the batter and popping her cake in the oven all in about 30 minutes. Who knew!
We were then all given our own pre-made cake to decorate at which point my bake-o-phobia started to kick in. Could I really be trusted to make edible toasted almond paste icing? Cue some slightly frazzled antics including a few too many eggs, some minor rolling pin vs. icing sugar emergencies and me wearing about half of the ingredients. Smooth.
Somewhat miraculously, and largely due to an intervention by the glorious Rachel Allen, I managed to end up with useable icing that actually stuck to my cake. Which is when I realised that a palette knife truly is a novice baker’s best friend and that I’d kind of unexpectedly really started to enjoy myself. And with a growing sense of confidence I managed to smooth down the sides of my cake without future mishap.
Then it was time to grab the only baking staple I’ve ever been comfortable with, the humble shape cutter. Using the excess icing, which to my relief tasted delicious, I went to town on my cake and covered it in as many stars as I could fit.
After saying goodbye, and a huge thank you, to Rachel and the team, I embarked on a slightly perilous cake-box-laden journey home. Where, after an anxious 10-20 minutes hovering in front of the oven, I ended up with my first ever Christmas cake. And while I wouldn’t yet say I’m a baking convert, next year I’ll definitely be attempting to actually make one from scratch!
To cook Rachel Allen’s Christmas cake recipe click here
Celebrity chef Rachel Allen and Currys PC World are encouraging the nation to bake their own Christmas cakes this year. To see their full baking range, as well as recipes and videos visit currys.co.uk/baking