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.

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