There are many reasons that people enjoy baking. For some it’s that irresistible smell and the sheer pleasure of eating something fresh out of the oven, for others it’s the ultimate therapeutic practice for unwinding at the end of a long day, or a creative outlet for otherwise wasted artistic skills.
Perhaps it’s thanks to the Great British Bake Off that in the last few years the art of baking has undergone an unprecedented revival, or perhaps it’s a hidden talent many of us have always harbored in secret but only now have the confidence to admit. Once seen as a chore reserved for Grannies and Aunts it’s now a trendy pastime for, well, just about anyone. Mary Berry is of course still the hailed leader of this cult, and few households do not possess one of her baking bibles on its shelves, complete with troubleshooting tips for everything from soggy bottoms, to low rises, peaks, cracks, holes and sunken middles.
Similarly the capital has become awash with artisan bakeries; each with their own specialties which Londoners are prepared to go out of their way to get their hands on. Sourdough has become synonymous with a young, trendy elite whilst cupcakes have become a high-end luxury item served frequently with Champagne. Elsewhere we’ve seen the rise of hybrids come and go with everything from the cronut (croissant x doughnut) to the duffin (doughnut x muffin) gracing the shelves of many a local bakehouse. Now many of our favourite London bakeries and patisseries are capitalising on their success by sharing the secrets of their trade through masterclasses, demos and pop-ups – inviting aspiring Paul Hollywoods to try their hand at everything from cupcake decorating to doughnut baking. Whether it’s for a fun day out with friends, a solo project or a gift for a loved one; here is our pick of the best spots you knead to try.
Best classes for icing and cake decorating London
For many of us the cooking part’s not the issue, it’s the decorating that poses the problems. These handy classes will help you turn your star bakes into show stopping masterpieces.
Biscuiteers School of Icing
What? Biscuiteers are longstanding affiliates of the London bakery scene, renowned for their adorable iced biscuits that provide the perfect thoughtful gift for any occasion. They run regular icing classes in their Notting Hill and Northcote Road boutiques to let you into some of their cunning tricks of the trade for perfecting the art of pipework. Better still, each participant gets a Biscuiteers 100% cotton apron to take home with them as a souvenir.
Where? 194 Kensington Park Road, W11 2ES; 13 Northcote Road, SW11 1NG
How much? 2 hour class, £85 per person
What? There’s no denying that Cookie Girl takes the art of decorating extremely seriously, offering separate classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced bakers to hone their skills for finishing off cupcakes with the ultimate finesse and artistic flair.
Where? Cookie Girl HQ, Eynham Road, W1
How much? 2 hour classes start at £60 per person
What? Spend a Sunday morning or afternoon mastering the art of cupcake decorating from the talented chefs at one of London’s most popular bakeries. You will be shown how to ice using a palette knife, how to perfect the Primrose signature swirl and best of all, you get to take home all you make in the class.
Where? The Lansdowne, 90 Gloucester Avenue, NW1 8HX
How much? £60 per person for 90 minute class
Cake decorating at Cutter & Squidge
What? If you’re a dab hand at knocking out a good sponge but struggle with making it look pretty then this is the class for you. The team at Cutter & Squidge has an ‘all-natural’ ethos which means you won’t find any artificial colourings or nasties in their icings – they offer some great vegan classes too.
Where? 23 The Royal Exchange, Threadneedle Street, EC3V 3LP
How much? £100 per person, including a glass of prosecco and your fully decorated cake to take home
Best classes for doughnut making London
Who knew our favourite teatime treats were so simple to make at home? Whether you’re dedicated to the traditional classic jam and custard filled creations or prefer something more avant-garde – you doughnut want to miss out on these classes.
Doughnut workshop at Bread Ahead
What? Learn to turn a few humble ingredients into the most delicious of deserts. Those fortunate enough to have tried a Bread Ahead doughnut will know that these guys are absolute masters of their craft and produce the silkiest custard fillings known to man – so roll up your sleeves and prepare to get messy!
How much? £90 per person for 3 hour masterclass
Where? Borough Market, Cathedral Street, SE1 9DE; 249 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, SW1X 0BP; 26 – 28 Olympic Way, Wembley, HA9 0NP
Doughnut academy London
What? If you’re less about the dough and more about all the crazy glazes, fun fillings and OTT toppings then this is the course for you. The expert team will provide you with a freshly baked supply of buns and you will be able to decorate them as you please – including free rein to their neon pick 'n’ mix corner. Let your inner child go wild!
How much? £80 per person for two hours
Where? 96 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 5ED
The Avenue Cookery School (All you can eat doughnut workshop)
What? In this class participants will learn how to whip up three different types of tasty miniature doughnuts; custard, jam and dulce de leche. Expect handy baking tips throughout and don’t forget to bring a bottle - The Avenue provide free corkage to help you get those creative juices flowing. Better still, as the name of this class suggests, doughnuts are limitless, so come hungry!
How much? 2 hour class, £65 per person
Where? 3 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth, SW18 1FZ
Best breadmaking classes London
When it comes to bread making there’s a lot to learn and the styles, shapes, textures and flavours are seemingly endless. However what could be more satisfying than cutting into a freshly baked loaf that you’ve crafted yourself from start to finish. Yes it takes practice, but if you learn from these experts you’ll get there in no time.
E5 Bakehouse Sourdough Breadmaking
What? Unsurprisingly this course has been a hit with East London trendies and now runs three days a week to keep up with demand. You’ll make four breads over the day; a country loaf, ciabatta style buns, seeded rye and bagels – all using a sourdough culture which you will learn to nurture and sustain in order to continue your newfound hobby at home.
How much? The class costs £150 for the day and includes a sourdough “mother” culture, proving basket, recipes, dough cutter, a large organic lunch, refreshments and of course plenty of bread to take home.
Where? Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PH
Ma Baker, Fulham
What? For a small, intimate and relaxed class, Fulham micro-bakery Ma Baker, run by former teacher and passionate home cook Liz Wilson, offers just the ticket. Led by the lovely lady herself, popular classes include an introduction to bread-making, as well as masterclasses in sourdough, artisan breads and classic Italian bakes. Each class includes all equipment, ingredients, morning tea, home baked treats, a light lunch, recipes and a big bag of bread to take home. All you have to do is bring an apron and a willingness to get stuck in!
How much? Day courses start at £90
Where? Hugon Road, SW6 3EN
The Dusty Knuckle
What? Teaching has always been a fundamental part of this popular bakery’s ethos – so much so that it launched a dedicated bakery school in 2019 to host a range of bread, pastry, cooking and fermentation classes. There’s a whole host of classes to choose from for all abilities including full day, half day and evening options. The half day introductory class to sourdough teaches you how to make their signature bake and also includes a delicious dinner and beer from the brewery next doo.
How much? Half Day classes start at £80
Where? Abbot Street, E8 3DP
Best for cakes, pastry and everything else
Birthdays, weddings, engagements, baby showers, anniversaries, housewarmings, hen parties, graduations – name an occasion when a cake is not a welcomed addition to a party? We’ll wait…
What? For those who are really serious about taking their baking skills to the next level this prestigious and world-renowned cookery school offers a full-time course which not only covers the most intricate details on cake decorating, design and preparation but also offers an insight into fundamental business acumen that can help you become the patisserie extraordinaire you’ve always dreamed of being.
Where? 15 Bloomsbury Square, WC1A 2 LS
How much? 10 x 6hr sessions £2,950
What? Cake Boy - aka award-winning pâtissier Eric Lanlard - is a hero in the baking world having famously produced cakes for the likes of Madonna and the Queen Mother. Step inside his Battersea Emporium and you will feel a little like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. After a delicious breakfast you will start the class with Willy Wonka himself as Eric takes you step-by-step through the likes of French patisserie, glamorous cake decorating, and cooking with chocolate. Afterwards you will be treated to a home cooked lunch and wine before Eric sends you on your way armed with a Cake Boy apron, a file full of recipes, and a belly full of treats.
Where? Battersea Reach, Juniper Drive, SW18 1TX
How much? 6 hour course, £250
Bake with Maria
What? From her beautiful house in North West London Maria teaches classes in everything from bread to pastry, cakes to confectionary. She even runs a culinary holiday in Tuscany for any Italian food enthusiasts. Her classes are always bespoke, tapered to match the competencies and circumstances of her clientele. From hen parties, to corporate days out and private tutorials her classes never fail to hit the mark.
Where? Golders Green, NW2
How much? 3 hour course, £85 per person
The Cookery School at Little Portland Street
What? Self-acclaimed as London’s most sustainable cooking school, the cookery school at Little Portland Street offers a popular four-day intensive baking course which promises to leave you with the confidence and competence to create a wide range of beautiful baked goods including cakes, pastry, breads, macarons and meringues. It’s a full on schedule but fear not, each day you will be treated to a lovely lunch and organic wine for a quick breather before you dive back in.
Where? 15b Little Portland Street, W1W 8BW
How much? 4 day course, 10am- 3pm £880
What? One of London’s most esteemed cookery schools with an alumni of culinary greats; students at Leiths can rest assured they’re in very capable hands. Their baking and patisserie courses are numerous, and specialist classes are often led by famous faces. For a broader approach try their evening baking class which may feature the likes of a fruited soda bread, black cherry and almond cake with clotted cream frosting and some delicate choux canapés on the agenda.
Where? 6-20 Wendell Road, W12 9RT
How much? 90 minute class, £95 (including dinner and wine)
Best gluten-free baking classes London
There was a time when coeliacs and gluten intolerants had to steer clear of baked goods entirely, but now with such a selection of gluten-free ingredients so widely available, gluten-free baking has never been so easy (or tasty). These classes will demonstrate just how far gluten-free baking has come so that you can make some tasty treats that all your friends can tuck into.
What? Acknowledging that the gluten-free options found in supermarkets leave much to be desired, the bread experts at Bread Ahead set about on a mission to make some tasty alternatives and teach us how to make them at home. What they’ve achieved is exactly that and the half-day course covers a versatile everyday gluten free loaf, tasty buckwheat cheese straws and the best bit of all - their renowned amaretti biscuits!
How much? 3 hours, £90 per person
Where? Borough Market, Cathedral Street, SE1 9DE; 249 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, SW1X 0BP; 26 – 28 Olympic Way, Wembley, HA9 0NP
What? With three locations across the city Borough Kitchen’s classes are pretty accessible. Their gluten-free baking classes have proven particularly popular, unravelling the ostensible complexities of gluten-free flours, binders and raising agents. You’ll learn to make cakes, cookies and shortcrust pastry as well as how to blend your very own gluten-free flour mixture.
How much? 3 hours, £99
Where? Islington: 6G Esther Anne Place, N1 1WL; Hamstead: 1B-1C Hampstead High Street, NW3 1RG; Chiswick: 186 Chiswick High Road, W4 1PP
Not got time to bake yourself? Check out our list of London's best bakeries where you can buy the next best thing