Last week I spent a lovely day at The Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School in Bath learning how to make pastry. I was keen to do this course as pastry was something that never seemed to turn out very well for me and I was beginning to think that I should just buy it ready made.
Having spent a few hours in the kitchen with pastry expert Richard Bertinet, I’ve now discovered that my pastry was going wrong because I was using the wrong equipment to bake my pastry in (glass and ceramic is no good, you need a metal tray), I was greasing my tray causing excess butter, I was trying too hard to get a fine bread crumb consistency and I was using too much flour and pressure when rolling. Basically I was doing it all wrong!
You know it’s a good course when you walk away feeling confident that you could repeat what you’ve done during the day and that is exactly how I feel. Richard was great fun and an excellent teacher. I can’t wait to get stuck into his pastry book now and make some of the lovely goodies in there. I have my eye on the duck pie, so if it turns out well you may see that recipe on here soon.
During our class, which was from 10am until 4pm, we made sweet pastry, salted pastry and choux pastry. We also used some of the puff pastry made in the bakery that morning. These were turned into quiches, various fruit tarts (some with frangipane and some with creme patissiere), choux swans with chantilly cream and a rather impressive foot long mille feuille.
We ended up with a feast, which we sat down and ate with the addition of some lovely salads, cold meats, cheeses and breads from the bakery, all washed down with a couple of bottles of wine. In fact, as soon as I arrived on the course it quickly became apparent that Richard was keen to ensure that we went away fed and watered. We started off the day with teas, coffees, fruit and toast; then a couple of hours later we had more coffee with brownies and pastries. Rather unexpectedly, there was also an awful lot of booze available throughout the day. A bottle of vodka stuffed with vanilla pods was pulled out of the freezer and passed round when we were making our creme patissiere, then the rum came out at frangipane time and with our coffee we had prunes soaked in rum, with a few extra spoonfuls of the rum for good measure. This is certainly not a course where you go away feeling hungry, although you may be a little tipsy by the end!
Here are some pics of the lovely things we made and in case you have the same problems as me, I have added a link at the bottom to a video of Richard showing you how to make sweet pastry.
Here’s the link to a video of Richard demonstrating how to make sweet pastry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MXbiz3hNc
Once you’ve mastered this you’ll be able to make all manner of delicious fruit tarts and pies. If you try it, let me know how you get on.