As a home baker and cook, I am continuously learning through reading books, magazines, websites and food blogs. I believe we continue to learn throughout our whole life and will never reach a stage when we can say, “I now know everything!”. One treat I love doing is going on the odd cookery course, something I don’t get to do too often, but when I do – it’s like I’m going to a spa for a pamper day! What could be better than spending the day with fellow foodies, learning, doing, talking and eating? I often find that it helps to re-invigorate a skill that may have fallen into the hands of the bad habit goblin and it’s a great way of picking up new tips and meeting like-minded people. It’s definitely chicken soup for the soul….of the baking kind!!
Since finishing my adventures on the Great British Bake Off last year, I now have the absolute pleasure and honour of teaching a couple of courses myself at Seasoned Cookery School in South Derbyshire. I was contacted by Clare, the owner of the school asking if I’d ever thought about teaching and if so, would I be interested in joining their ranks of chefs/cooks at the school? Not only does Brendan Lynch from series 3 of The Great British Bake Off teach at the school, other chefs include Sara Danesin and Andrew Kojima, both Masterchef finalists as well as chefs and leading figures within specialist fields in cookery.
I visited the school to meet Clare and the team and to check out the facilities. The school is based in South Derbyshire which is smack bang in the middle of the UK and set in the beautiful grounds of Catton Hall estate. As I drove up the drive to the school, I already knew that I liked the place and was excited to find out more about what I could do there. The school is based in the converted barns on the estate and is huge! The kitchen where all the classes take place has space for 12 eager pupils to learn and cook and is fully equipped with everything you’d need to turn yourself into the next big Masterchef! There’s also a separate dining room which doubles as an events space and is where we all sit down at lunch time to catch our breaths ahead of the afternoon session of cooking.
I instantly felt part of the team and got on really well with Clare and the team – Jo and Tania, who are most definitely the two people that you need by your side if you ever need help in the kitchen with anything! We discussed food at great length and ideas as to what classes I would like to teach…Macarons were an obvious choice, but it was great discussing other fields within baking and cookery that I’m interested and passionate about that would also fit in with the school’s already impressive rostra of classes.
We settled on two different one day classes; the first would be all things pastry – including hot water crust pork pies, a particular favourite of mine as well as puff pastry, rough puff, choux and suet. I wanted to cover a good spread of different pastries and demonstrate how to make them as well as looking at different uses, both sweet and savoury for the pastries. The second one day class we settled on was Macarons & Iced Buns; a great combination of looking at enriched doughs and the British classic iced bun, followed by the trendy yet brilliant Macaron. I wanted to teach things that I loved baking and eating so that my passion and knowledge for those classes came across to all those who came to the school. I wanted to be able to inspire those who came and also give them the skills and confidence to go home and do the recipes again and again.
I left that first meeting at the school feeling enthused and just wanted to start teaching straight away!! We’d set-up a trial day that would enable me to test out my recipes and lesson plans on some willing volunteers and allow me a day to navigate my way around the kitchen…all hopefully would prove to be successful, and luckily they were!
The first ‘proper’ courses happened in March 2014, with the next couple of dates coming up very soon in mid-May 2014. There are also dates in the diary for October and December later this year and I just can’t wait to get back to the school to meet more keen bakers like myself and to share my passion for all things pastry and Macarons.
For further information on the school and the courses, here’s the link to click on: https://www.seasonedcourses.com/
To look at up and coming dates for my two courses here are some shortcuts for you too (because I’m nice like that): https://www.seasonedcourses.com/cooking-courses
I look forward to meeting you one day at the school!!