By contributor Mathew Lea.
Are you in full Great British Bake Off mode? I know I am. So when I had the opportunity to attend a Baked in Style event, I’d signed up quicker than you can say soufflé.The event was a baking and photography session hosted by Neff and Currys PC World and held at L’atelier des Chefs near St. Pauls Cathedral in London. On the menu to bake was a Hazelnut Torte which would then be ‘food styled’ to make it look extra fancy for the photographs. Having never personally dabbled in food styling, I was intrigued as to what this would involve.
In my mind I envisaged fancy piping of buttercream, chocolate tuiles or perhaps something more exotic, such as dry ice. I wasn’t really anywhere near the mark! More on this later…
Having previously been to L’atelier des Chefs for some of their other classes, and with the Great British Bake Off in full swing, I was looking forward to the event and my expectations were high.
Our chef for the day was a lovely chap called Fabricio (Fab for short), who took us through how to make a Hazelnut Torte and then in teams we were tasked to make our own. Before things really got started, we were shown the Neff equipment we’d be using, a fancy oven and induction hob. Some pretty serious equipment indeed, with the slide and hide oven door, self cleaning setting and removable magnetic dial for the hob being my favourite features. Unfortunately I can’t tell you how much these would cost (as we weren’t given that information) but you can imagine it’s probably pretty hefty.
With the appliance demo over, it was time to bake. The Hazelnut Torte was much simpler than I had anticipated, but it had some really interesting flavours including coffee, apple (!) and of course, hazelnut. Three things I wouldn’t normally put together in a cake, but hey, you learn something new everyday!
The cake was a simple sponge flavoured with chopped hazelnuts and coffee, cut in half and filled with the apples which had been cooked in lemon juice and apricot jam. I was a bit worried the cake would be dry, since there was no hint of buttercream, but it was fine and was really tasty. I would definitely recommend making it yourself.
Once the cake had cooled, we set about with the decorating/food styling. Mademoiselle Poirot, a professional photographer, was on hand to share some top tips to make your cake and the photos really come to life. Contrary to what I thought food styling would involve, it was less cooking and more placing of inanimate objects. Simple things such as using a bit of cloth to soften the scene, the placing of foliage relevant to the cake (such as Hazelnut shells) and using a colour wheel all really helped to make a simple cake look stunning and something fit for the front page of Waitrose Food magazine.
After careful consideration, planning and expert styling, our final product was ready:
Hazelnut Torte in progress
Amazing no? Actually, this is what it ended up looking like:
Styled Hazelnut Torte
Much better I think you’ll agree!
All in all it was a fun event so thanks to Neff, Currys PC World and L’atelier des Chefs for putting it on.
*photo courtesy of Joe Blogs.