The other week I treated myself to a day course at Leiths School of Food and Wine. It was absolutely amazing! So many fantastic chefs start their cooking careers there and I just wanted to be a part of it for one day. I’d love to do their full time courses but they are pricey and so for the moment I will have to say no to that.
The course I booked was an afternoon tea lesson with Edd Kimber (winner of the first Great British Bake Off). We made chocolate sable biscuits, scones and Paris Brest (a choux filled ring). It was so fun and exciting. I also learnt so many great tips from Edd about preparing food. He knows so much and shared lots of his pointers with us!
Just simple things like how to cut a vanilla pod correctly and the best way to crack an egg really do make a difference to the baking experience. Edd knew exactly how the choux pastry should feel and that “V” shape it should make when falling from the back of a spoon. He told us the history behind the Paris Brest – it was invented to serve to the cyclists racing from Paris to Brest and the ring shape is to represent a bicycle wheel. He introduced us to cocoa nibs – a great way to add a bit of sparkle to your food. They taste a bit like banana unusually! He used them to sprinkle on his biscuits to give them another dimension. You can also use them in breakfasts on top of things like porridge!
For the scones, he used a LOT of baking powder in them to add extra volume. I thought you would really taste this but it wasn’t very noticeable with the cream and jam lashings on top. Another great tip he had was to soak the dried fruit before combining them into the scone mixture. This meant that they were nice and plump to eat. Vanilla, water and alcohol were all welcome suggestions for fruit soaking. Just drain the liquid after and then add the fruit to your recipes. I did this with my cereal the other day and soaked my sultanas overnight.
I enjoyed all the bakes from the day. That fabulous praline crème patisserie filling in the choux was out of this world. And the chocolate sable biscuits with chocolate chips, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with cocoa nibs were such an indulgent and tasty treat to have the week after! I would definitely make all the bakes again. I am tempted to buy his book now. He really does get flavour and exciting ideas into his bakes. I am pleased to see his success since the bake off.
As for Leiths, I thought the day was run effortlessly and the staff were amazing and so helpful to us. They were there to make sure we got the most out of the day and were always welcoming when we asked questions. I would definitely love to save up for another day at Leiths. Money well spent.
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