Blog post by Sally
Hello there, friends! Today I would like to share with you my thoughts on online baking classes, featuring a favorite instructor of mine, Matt Adlard. Matt has been publishing free online videos for a long time, but last year he launched Bake it Better with a dedicated area for members through paid subscription. Apart from high quality baking demonstrations (plus detailed recipes to go with them), his virtual spot also generated a tight online community of folks who are crazy about baking, and want exactly that: Bake it Better! We show our bakes, ask questions, cheer each other in a private group on Facebook. The icing on the cake? (pun sort of intended): Matt is always available for questions and advice, so if you have any issues baking from the recipes and videos, no need to despair.
Every month he uploads three lessons with increasing complexity, all related to a given theme. The photo above shows the very first series. The theme was CAKE, and he started with a big classic: Victoria Sponge Cake. Then he moved to this gorgeous Naked White Chocolate Drip Cake (picture above). Finally, for those looking for a more challenging bake, Tier 3 was a Velvet Sprayed Cake, a real showstopper that showed how to decorate with a stencil and how to make a beautiful, very modern isomalt decoration to top the cake with.
Let me now show you a few of the bakes I’ve made following his lessons. And by the way, when you sign up, you get access to all lessons, past and current.
From his PASTRY month…
Frangipane Blueberry Tarts. In this lesson, he shows his tricks to make a very nice little tart shell, which is a nice skill to be comfortable with.
From his AMERICAN CLASSICS…
Chocolate Chip Cookies are probably one of the simplest bakes, that even kids or bake-o-phobe adults can do without issues. But Matt adds a few little added touches that turn this simple bake into something a bit more upscale. They turn out perfectly round, and so elegant and enticing. In that group he also has a nice tutorial for Creme Brulee Cheesecake (OMG) and a showstopper Herringbone Lattice Apple Pie. Yes, as American as apple pie. I’ve been meaning to try the herringbone lattice, and should really go for it in the near future.
From ENTREMETS & PETIT GATEAUX
I made two bakes from that particular month, and I think they were quite likely my favorites.
Lemon Citrus Crunch was absolutely amazing. The base uses a crumble technique that was new to me, plus a luscious lemon curd sitting on top. The whole thing is then crowned by a baked meringue. We shared this with friends (it was months before Covid-19 hit), and they raved about it. One of our friends said that it was probably the best dessert he’d ever had. Talk about a great endorsement, right?
Hazelnut Fingers were the intermediate dessert of that month, and I tell you one thing: that piped white chocolate cream on top should be a controlled substance. The tempered chocolate decorations were leftover from another cooking project I did at the time, so it was not part of the lesson. This bake was a bit involved, but once again Matt shows exactly how to perform each step, including details of what type of container to use for coating the cakes with the chocolate crunchy layer, and how to handle it all properly.
From LAYER CAKES…
This was the most recent lesson uploaded, for the current month of October. I’ve made quite a few rolled cakes in the past, but his recipe has a few tweaks that make rolling it a walk at the beach. It is a very nice sponge cake filled with home-made strawberry jam (a very simple but delicious recipe he also shared), and whipped cream. As usual, he shares little tricks that make assembling very neat and efficient.
So, why do I love Bake it Better and recommend it to anyone with an interest in baking? First of all, Matt is a natural teacher, and very entertaining. He is so passionate about the recipes he shares, that as he describes each one, you simply cannot WAIT to go to the kitchen and start baking. When I found out about the online tutorials, I was going through some pretty stressful times. I had just arrived back in the US from filming the Great American Baking Show, disappointed at myself, and at the lowest level of my self-confidence. I needed something to perk me up, get my mind out of that funk. Joining helped me tremendously, and it is nice to realize I joined from the very beginning, one year ago. The membership carries the added benefit of interacting with other members online. It is wonderful to see what everybody bakes. Matt is incredibly supportive and a genuinely nice person. If you have problems, if you have questions, he is always there to help. Pandemics hit his filming hard, but he kept going, having to adapt and make videos in his own kitchen. He discussed it all openly with the members and devised a plan to keep the site going. If only politicians could be so sincere and upfront. Thank you Matt! Looking forward to your future lessons…
Disclaimer: As those who read my personal blog probably know already, I only review products or cookbooks that I love, no strings attached. Same goes for online classes.