Within minutes of starting a batch of ham and cheese scones, dough is dripping off my hands, swamp monster-style.
‘I tend to use a table knife to stir the milk and egg in with the flour and butter,’ says Ruth Clemens, pushing me kindly in the direction of the sink, ‘otherwise the dough mixture sticks to you.’
While I love cooking, I’ve never been a fan of baking for two reasons: the need for accuracy and the mess.
And so far, my concerns have been proven half right.
But Clemens, a finalist in last year’s The Great British Bake Off, is determined to convert me during her baking masterclass, held a week before the second series of the BBC show kicks off.
After returning my hands to normal, I tip the sticky mass onto a floured worktop, pat it into a flat shape and get busy with a scone cutter.
‘Don’t swivel it round, just press down hard and drag the circle smoothly out,’ Clemens explains, in her comforting Cheshire tones, as I hack away.
Just over 15 minutes later, my six dollops have been transformed, by way of the oven, into golden mounds. And I’m surprised.
Unfortunately, across the room, another student’s Madeira cakes haven’t had such an easy ride.
But if anyone can see our class through these difficult times and convert us to the baking side, it’s Clemens.
Gathering the group around, she explains: ‘The frustration of baking comes from things not turning out the way you expected them to. But once you’ve got to grips with your oven, you can turn out anything and everything.’
Here’s a Great British Bake Off recipe for you to try.
Mother-of-three Clemens continues: ‘I’m a big believer in oven thermometers, you really can’t trust the dials. They lose their accuracy over time and can be out by 10-20 degrees, which makes all the difference to baking times.’
As I reach for my third scone, Clemens sees my hovering hand and smiles indulgently: ‘They’re good fresh, aren’t they?’
Okay, I admit it: I’m hooked on these things. Now I just need to find out how to stay skinny while eating this much butter on a regular basis.
‘My boys love eating them when they come home from school,’ explains Clemens. ‘And my husband has a really sweet tooth. ‘So you can guarantee that at 10pm when I go looking for something, they’re all gone!’
But as the face of National Baking Week’s Bake Along this year (www.nationalbakingweek.co.uk) it’s rather lucky she’s got such a hungry family.