After all the travel, kitchen fitting, insurance claims etc, it was a relief to have a day off to go to the Bertinet Baking School Christmas Baking Class. I'd booked up in the spring because we were promised that knowledge of stollen, rum and cardamom bread, poppy seeded star shaped rolls and edible mince pies would be shared with us and I guessed that would book out pretty quickly. Although I hate mince pies, I was up for the challenge of stollen. The bakery school is in Bath which is lovely any time of year but especially in the month before Christmas with the market stalls open and sparkling, festive twinklyness all around. Below is the view from Himself's office. Not jealous.
Et voila! C'est Monsieur Bertinet. The man who has taught me (via books, DVD's, a couple of classes and a lot of flour) to bake bread and pastry you can actually eat. Boff! (Below, rolling out stollen.)
I wasn't kidding when I said I hate mince pies. What is the point? Too much soft pastry half filled with too few gloopy raisins. Turns out Monsieur B agrees and came up with this version instead. It's a mini sweet pastry baked to a crispy crunch and filled with home made mincemeat but (this is the clever bit) topped with an almond cream (with added rum 'cos it's winter) and slivered almonds sprinkled on top then baked. I still hate standard mince pies but I love these! Click here for the recipe. Because the almond creme is piped on top of the mincemeat, there's no gap where there should be ... something.
Below our basket of prune and cardamom rolls. Ridiculously tasty.
And here's the maestro gathering up the goodies at the end of the class. You pick up so many extra tips too, for example we were shown how to properly wrap and store or freeze the things we'd made so that in return for spending one day in the kitchen you can make enough to last through the whole of Christmas. Finally our little class of 12 enjoyed a splendid lunch with too much wine and plenty of warm festive fuzzy warmth. (Or that might have been the prunes soaked in rum and dropped into our coffee, try it, really!)