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BLOG: Nancy Whittington-Coates joins our Introduction to Patisserie course

Posted on April 30, 2018

Food and culture blogger Nancy Whittington-Coates of Sugar Darling put her patisserie skills to the test when she joined our Introduction to Patisserie course led by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. In her blog, she recounts her day and describes it as one of the 'funnest, most educational and enjoyable days' ...

It's kind of obvious from my recipes section, recipe reviews and my food IG account that cookery and dining are some of my biggest loves, but if you're a newer reader you may not know that I ran a mail order cake bakery for a while a few years ago and have a fiery passion for learning new cookery skills. When I ran my little bakery I was massively into the nostalgia filled world of American baking and the cakey side of French baking, somehow never spending much time on patisserie. I've made pastry before of all kinds, but I only quickly learnt the techniques I needed never going into real detail and learning those pro secrets to get the perfect bake.

I was recently invited to take part in a class at The School of Artisan Food in North Nottinghamshire and was lucky enough to be able to choose which day class I'd like to do, so unsurprisingly I plumped for an Introduction to Patisserie (£175.00*). I'd heard many many great things about the school and so was extremely excited to be attending a class, but little did I know what an amazingly fun and educational day it was!

As you can see from these pictures, the day of my class turned out to be very snowy but there was no way I'd let this stop me attending so early Sunday morning I hopped into my car with some snow driving provisions and set off. I arrived at the Welbeck Estate of which the school is a part of a bit after 9am and let me tell you, it was an absolute wonderland. We all know I have an obsession with historic architecture and stately home estates but covered in snow it was even more of a sight for sore eyes - can I live on the estate please?!

Everything was well sign posted so there were no worries about figuring out where I had to go and I arrived at the school to be welcomed upstairs to one of the main common rooms where the classes going on that day were to meet and have lunch. I was immediately struck by lovely dough and coffee scents and was shown to a sideboard where there were some breads freshly made at the school along with delicious butter, fruit and hot drinks so we could fuel up for the day ahead. Let me just say - OMG the wholegrain walnut bread!!!

As well as this bay of treats the room had a wall of bookcases set up as a shop and naturally I was distracted and headed over there straight away because I absolutely cannot resist a good cook book. Amongst all the amazing reads and equipment relevant to all of their classes I was excited to spot three books by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou the gentleman who would be leading out class that day, just before he walked into the room carrying a dish of some sourdough croissants he had been experimenting with. I'd never had a sourdough croissant before but let me tell you they are GOOD.

Emmanuel ran us through the necessary health and safety info and introduced us to our other teacher David Carter before we each introduced ourselves and then headed into the teaching room and donned our aprons!

We spent our morning on two jobs - making our own puff pastry and learning all about croissant dough. This second dough was ready made for us by the baking team so that we could learn all about the main croissant technique lamination which is what gets all those gorgeous crisp buttery layers, but don't be concerned we were also shown how to make the actual dough from scratch too which contained lots of great tips on the best ways to use the main three types of yeast - fresh, active dry and instant or quick rise dried yeast. Having made my own bread for years now I thought I was pretty averse in this subject but boy was I wrong - I came away with a huge page full of notes on best temperatures, ways to tell if it's ready to use and much more.

The teaching kitchen itself was a great space equipped with every baking tool you can imagine as well as two banks of work surfaces and a main area at the front where the teacher can show the recipes and techniques to be used. Emmanuel and David would show us what we were to be doing at the front and then we'd head back to our workspace and repeat it ourselves, with help from our teachers who would walk around giving tips and help where needed.

Read the full blog ...

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