In the Kitchen With John Whaite

After winning series three of GBBO, the next step for John Whaite in his baking adventure is to start his own cookery school on the family farm...

21st Sep 2015

We catch up with the winner of series three of GBBO, John Whaite, about writing two successful books, and starting his own cookery school on the family farm... John Whaite
When did you first become interested in baking? At my mother’s knee as a small child. She’d always bake fairy cakes and other home comforts. When I flew the nest and started at university, I found baking to be a very tranquil process. Can you tell us about your new cookery school? John Whaite’s Kitchen is in a 400 year old barn on my family farm. I’ve taken it over and am currently renovating it. I will offer classes taught by me, and other teachers, in all manner of skills. From baking to chocolate work, from butchery to specialist ethnic food classes. Viisit to see the latest news on the kitchen. What will students achieve during a day at the school? A skill set and insight into particular areas of food preparation, whilst having a memorable day out. What made you decide to set up your own cooking school on the farm? I started teaching some classes in Greenwich when I moved down to London and they were so fun – for me and the students. So I thought, rather than waste money in a kitchen that isn’t mine, and rather than just ‘making do’ with their equipment, why not set up my own kitchen, in my own style, with my own equipment? What is your advice for someone just starting out with baking? Don’t overthink it – do as the recipe says and make sure you read the recipe at least twice before starting. It’s also extremely helpful to get all of your ingredients weighed out before starting, that way you’ll not mess up the cupboards with your messy hands. What are your top tips for perfect patisserie? Planning is key, you can’t just dive into it as though it were a loaf of bread. You’ve got to think carefully about each and every process, and get the items as uniformly executed and decorated as possible. I always wear chef’s whites when working with patisserie recipes – it just helps to get me in the right frame of mind. What’s your favourite thing to bake? That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favourite. Love doesn’t divide, it multiplies. I can’t answer this. How do you come up with new recipes? Usually I’ll start with a new flavour combination and then think about which vessel would best carry that. What’s your favourite flavour combination? I’m pretty keen on traditional flavours – I don’t think you can beat caramelised onions and cheese, a very sharp lemon meringue, or a plain vanilla cake. But, I do still experiment with ‘out-there’ ideas. How do you decide what recipes to put in your books? By testing them, and having others test them. If they are in any way misleading, complicated or unsuccessful, they get a face-lift or end up in the trash. What baking equipment couldn’t you live without? A wooden spoon, a bowl and a rolling pin. That’s all you really need, but in this materialistic day and age, I guess I’d be pretty lonely without my KitchenAid. What’s your favourite childhood bake? Coconut macaroons. Really chewy ones, absolutely smothered in melted milk chocolate!   John's book, John Whaite Bakes At Home, published by Headline, is available to purchase now. john whaite
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