I hadn’t realised quite how well respected Betty’s is away from Yorkshire. That is until I got chatting to my cookery school counterparts last Sunday about how far they’d travelled. From South Wales, Ohio and Hertfordshire all the way to Harrogate, apparently distance is nothing when it comes to learning patisserie.
Fuelled by the recent excitement and passion of The Great British Bake Off, we had all enrolled onto Betty's ‘Patisserie Perfection’ course.
You may think that a traditional pastry lesson wouldn’t be the best of choices for someone who eats mostly gluten free nowadays. Yet I find the true joy of baking is as much about the making. After that (for me anyway) it’s about giving other people enjoyment with your food.
La Petite Croquembouche
Tutor Michael Vanheste
Despite my initial nerves at taking on such a complicated cake, the instructions we were given were easy to follow. To my surprise I had soon knocked up a Joconde sponge - an almond and whisked egg white based cake, named after the Mona Lisa no less. Add to that my first ever hazelnut crème patissiere and a glitzy chocolate ganache and they already had a happy customer. Into the same cake went an indulgent coffee buttercream and to finish it off, a chocolate glacage, which is a professional looking icing with a sheen.
We also did a croquembouche, something which I'd seen during my time en France. It’s a dessert usually reserved for weddings and christenings and is based on choux pastry buns filled with a crème patissiere (and a hazelnut flavoured one at that). Then you make a caramel and dip each profiterole into it before assembling it into a beautiful cone tower. Or as you can see, a mini mound as mine became. We also did spun sugar which looked fabulous glistening on top.
Timings of the course were spot on. Considering we also had to create a vanilla and raspberry vacherin - a meringue based dessert so called because it resembles the French cheese, we managed to squeeze in a huge amount of cooking and skills into one day. That said, the schedule was tight, starting at 9am and finishing at 5 30. So this 'advanced' course is no place for a shy cook, although the school does offer more relaxed courses for those at all levels.
The whole day was challenging but incredibly rewarding and totally delicious.
Patisserie Perfection? Definitely. Five stars, even for a fussy eater.
Gluten free choux buns
1 piping bag and a plain nozzle
2 x parchment lined baking trays
Oven: Preheat to 200degrees
130ml whole milk
pinch caster sugar
110g slightly salted butter
140g plain flour (at home I tried using Dove's Farm gluten free plain flour instead and it worked well)
3 medium eggs, beaten