Cookery school review: Season Cookery School
The course: Pastries and pies (£155 for a full day, including lunch with wine)
Where: Season Cookery School, near Winchester, Hampshire
What it’s like
Set in the grounds of Lainston House, a five-star country house hotel, Season Cookery School’s sleek training kitchen was once a 17th-century well house but it’s been transformed into an ultra-modern training space.
What I learned
I was lucky enough to attend the full-day pastries and pies class, taught by Great British Bake Off 2013 semi-finalist Beca Lyne-Pirkis. We started with how to make the perfect shortcrust pastry. Beca explained about the key fat/flour ratio, how much water to add and the tell-tale signs your pastry is moist enough to be rolled.
Next we whipped up a double chocolate brownie mix. As an American I’m a bit of a brownie snob, but this was one of the best brownies I’ve ever had. With our newfound knowledge, we took things a step further and tucked it into a pastry crust. Serve the pie à la mode (American for ‘with ice-cream’) and it’s enough to make a grown woman cry.
And on we went: we made a raspberry frangipane tart; chicken, bacon and apricot pies; and pastry cheese bites. This course brought home to me the skill of timing. It was fascinating to see how the day had been planned and how smoothly it ran, even with all the finicky requirements of pastry (all that chilling and resting).
I came away with a bevy of tips, including clever ways to place pastry in a tin using a rolling pin, how to secure it properly using a piece of the pastry dough and how to expel air pockets from beneath the pastry. All this know-how ensured my flaky pastry looked as good as it tasted.
This class will give you the confidence to apply for next year’s Great British Bake Off, and the recipes you learn will quickstep their way into your regular baking repertoire. The training is excellent, amid the serenity of Hampshire parkland.