Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Waitrose Gluten Free Baking Course

Today I was at the Waitrose Cookery School to do a gluten free bread and pastry workshop. This workshop was run by Adriana Rabinovich, with whom I did a workshop with a Leith's a couple of months ago.

I was every excited about this workshop. My attempts at pastry so far have been OK, but a little delicate and results of gluten free bread making are somewhat variable - even those you buy from the shops!

Adriana was as before a great teacher, always friendly and helpful, imparting her knowledge in a funny, self deprecating manner.

There were 24 in this class, which is quite a lot but the Waitrose facilities are such that it didn't feel too crowded and the large size of the class didn't take away from the enjoyment in any way, everyone worked in pairs as seems to be standard in these workshops. The Waitrose cookery staff were also available to help us, and they too were friendly and helpful. The facilities were, in my opinion superior to the kitchen I was in at Leiths. Only 1.5 years old, the Kitchen was clear, modern and well maintained. Although with the amount of baking we did you can soon run out of worktop space, if your not organised! What really sets Waitrose apart from Leiths is the demonstration theatre. Before making anything, Adriana showed us step by step what to do, in a small theatre, with a kitchen and mounted live video feed so you can see in detail what is being done and how - fabulous!

With so much baking to get through, as the day went on when something was being demonstrated, we would need to sometimes pop out of the theatre to take something out of the oven, which meant you would miss some detail, but as long as you have a partner that you work well with, you will cover all the details between you, that you can share while going through the recipe yourselves after the demo.

It was an action packed day... In the morning we started with short crust flaky crust and pate sucree (a sweet short crust pastry). Adriana said we would be making the difficult stuff in the morning, to raise our confidence and we'd be coasting in the afternoon. When the post-lunch tiredness set in, this made a lot of sense to me. We used the pate sucree to make lemon tarts.

And the short crust to make french apple tarts and roast vegetable quiches.


We made our own lunch - making our own pizza bases, was given a variety of toppings, to pimp to your taste and side salads. The recipe of the bases is very versatile and can be used to make dough balls, bread sticks, scones etc.

Then on to the bread, a white loaf and focaccia were demonstrated. There was only time to make one loaf and we started making the white loaf which requires a lot of arm work! Unfortunately we were given the wrong yeast, which meant the dough was unusable, which was a real shame, but at least we got to practice the technique of making the dough. We got a sample Adriana's focaccia and with the mountain of food I already had to take home, it didn't really feel like I lost out too much.

All the food as delicious and environment was lovely, endless tea, coffee and juice (wine at lunch, if you want it), all in all a good day!

Just based on my experiences, as before I would definitely recommend doing a workshop with Adriana. I would recommend the Waitrose Cookery School too (I would also choose them over Leiths), I would happily do another course there.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Chocolate Liquorice Tarts Two Ways

The first of my own adventures into pairing chocolate and liquorice and probably the first of many!

I wasn't sure if cream cheese would go with liquorice, so I thought it best to try a choc-cream-cheese filling and a chocolate ganache. I preferred the cream cheese filling in the end as its a little sweeter and the flavour was a bit more interesting - in a good way! - compared with the dark chocolate ganache.  

6 Tart Bases
- Using GF Digestive recipe
The ingredients
100g buckwheat flour
100g gluten free oats
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
50g xylitol
100g salted softened butter
2 tablespoons of non-diary milk

The method
Pre-heat oven to 180C.

Place greaseproof paper on a large baking tray.

Grind the oats in a blender until a powdery texture.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add the butter and mix until crumbly consistency.

Add the milk and mix into a smooth smooth.

Place in the fridge for 15 minutes (any longer and the dough will become too hard).

Spread the dough out evenly over the 6 tart cases.

Bake for 15 minutes.

These need to be allowed to cool completely before putting the topping on.

The Middle Layer
1) ChocCream Chesse (enough for 3 tarts)
250g Lacto-free or vegan cream cheese
1tsp vanilla extract
5tbsp unrefined icing sugar
3tbsp cocoa powder (sugar free)

Empty the cream cheese into a bowl and mixture with a spatula.

Add the vanilla and mix it in.

Add the icing sugar and incorporate thoroughly (using spatula).

Finally add the cocoa powder and mix in thoroughly.

This can be done at any time and kept in the fridge with cling film over the top.

2) Chocolate Ganache (enough for 3 tarts)
100g  xylitol chocolate
100 ml soya cream

Break up the chocolate into a bowl.

Bring  soya cream to the boil.

Add the cream to the bowl and mix together until smooth.

What I learnt this time around (this was the first time I made choc ganache). Its easy to spread when its warm - it becomes very thick when put in the fridge and not particular spreadable... so I'm either going to have to try a different ganache recipe or this needs to be made just before you what put spread it on the tarts.

The Top Layer
(In the style of Nigella) Chocolate Liquorice  Rubble 
This is enough for the 6 tarts

100g  xylitol chocolate
100g of Liquorice

Break up the chocolate into a blender and blend until the chocolate is in small chunks.

The liquorice will need to be chopped into small bits by hand (I found it doesn't break up in the blender).

Mix the two together and distribute evenly over the tarts.

I got sugar, gluten, lactofree liquorice from here http://www.liquorice-licorice.co.uk/sugar-free-sweet-dutch-liquorice-100gr-zd38-46-p.asp 'everything' free liquorice is not widely available & it does have a pretty strong taste!