So, today I took my sister’s advice (a rare occurence) and went to the Ashburton Cookery School which is only 10 minutes’ drive or less from my house. Now until I booked up on the course I didn’t realise just quite how people viewed the school. Some people I have spoken to from far flung corners of the earth, or outside of Devon at least, had heard of it. To me, it was a place in the next town over what done teachings.
So I arrived at a nicely leisurely time of 9:30am all on my own and was met by a lovely lady at the door to the converted house. She ushered me into a room with some tea and coffee and 7 other people all sat around making slightly awkward awfully British small talk. It took a sinister turn though when one lady commented it’s like the start of an Agatha Christie novel, 8 strangers in a room, only 7 will leave. We then segued onto Miss Marple and how the new one isn’t as good as the old one, and it isn’t as good as Midsomer Murders or Murder, She Wrote. I want to point out that none of us were at retirement age either. Then the baking starts.
We all went to the next room which had been converted into a teaching kitchen…
We had loads to cover in 6 hours – Pain au Chocolat, Pain au Raisin, Maple & Pecan Danish, Chocolate Eclairs and Profiteroles, Croissants and Macarons. We had a demo of how to do the macarons as we didn’t have the time to make them ourselves and there were only two types of pastry that we were using which made it a smidgen quicker. So we started with the Eclairs and Profiteroles. In all of the caking I have done I have never made pastry so I was expecting it to be a complete failure. But Tom (our chef) made it all sound and look so easy soooo it must be, right? Well out of the 4 pairs who did it, we all had different results.
The choux pastry has to be mixed together and put on a medium heat for all sorts of sciency reasons, then spread over a tray and let to cool…
More pastry science and mixing and it is put into a piping bag and piped into £1 coin sized mounds for profiteroles and in three ribbony long layers for eclairs. After 15 minutes in the oven we removed them and put holes in the bottoms, turned them upside down and let all of the steam out and cooked them a little bit more. These beauties then emerged…
With this being only part of the goody bag two of us is taking home, I could feel my arteries clogging up already, and it made me SO HAPPY!
Next up we have le croissants. In my head I just sang that like the french chef sings Les Poissons from The Little Mermaid. Anyway we had to make croissants. The next pastry process is a proverbial ball ache. Make the pastry, fold the butter, refrigerate, fold a bit more, refrigerate, turn and fold. It is simply annoying because we needed it to be rectangular and as is the way with baking with yeast, it is a springy devil so it was difficult controlling it. To make the basic shape of the croissants you make long isoceles (sp?) triangles and roll the bottom edge up and then tuck in the ends to make the croissant shape we all know and love. Proof. Bake.
Next on the list is Danish, which you cut the dough into a square and like you made paper windmills in primary school you cut into the centre from the four corners – not all the way though, a £2 coin size needs to be uncut. Dollop your filling into the centre and then fold one corner of each cut piece into the centre. So, it would be each right had corner folded into the centre to form the pinwheel look (or paper windmills). Proof, Bake!
Pain au chocolat was the easiest. Roll out a rectangle, put a line of chocolate chips along, and roll up like a sausage roll. Proof, bake!
Then pain au raisin. I forgot to say that we had made creme patisserie and chocolate ganache in between all of these. You spread your creme patisserie over a rectangle of dough then dollop on your raisin mix and then roll it up like a sausage roll. You then wrap it tightly in baking paper, then wrap it tight again in cling film, making sure it is as tight as it can go and then tie the ends. This makes it hold it’s shape a lot better and when it comes to cutting the slices it is even more helpful. We froze them to firm the dough and then sliced them and then proofed them and then baked them.
This is the result of all of our spoils (not bad for a first attempt if I say so myself):
We also got treated to the most amazing lunch and I got a certificate.. LOOK!
I will post all of the recipes in my next post. But you won’t get all of my margin notes. You need to go to the class for those secrets.