Richard Bertinet Pastry Masterclass
I spent last Tuesday indulging in my favourite thing all day long – a pastry masterclass at Richard Bertinet's cookery school.
I've wanted to do a class for so long and I was lucky enough to be treated to a voucher from my Parents at Christmas. I found it so hard to choose which class to do, there are so many I'd like to go on, I'm just going to have to go back for more.
On arriving at the class in the morning I was greeted by the lovely staff who made us a bit of breakfast, Richards bread toasted with lots of butter and homemade jam's with plenty of tea or coffee to wash it down. Once everyone had arrived we all put our aprons on and gathered round the workbench for the first demonstration with Richard. Salted pastry to start with, seeing it made in front of you makes so much more sense than anything you can read in a book or watch on YouTube. I think a lot of people are a bit scared of pastry because they think it's complicated, but when you see how simple Richard makes it and faff free you see there is nothing to be scared of at all. His no nonsense way of teaching builds confidence in your ability, you have to show the pastry who is boss as he says!
After the salted pastry we went onto sweet pastry, again made very simply by hand. I've always made mine in the mixer and have been too afraid to do it by hand but I think that'll change now. It's so quick and easy once you've been shown how, and much less washing up which is always a bonus, I hate washing up the food processor!
After watching both pastries being made we paired up and set about making our own under his watchful eye. It was a little bit intimidating at first as this very tall man suddenly is standing over your shoulder watching what you are doing, but he soon puts you at ease with a his sense of humour. Once our pastries were made they were all wrapped up and put in the fridge to chill while we watched the next demonstration about making things with puff pastry. Richard encouraged us to just buy a good all butter puff and getting used to working with it and then if you fancy having a go at making your own you'll be more experienced at cooking with it. I have made it in the past but it's a bit of a pain because you need to start about 24 hours before you want to use it so you need to plan ahead.
We watched him make apple tarts with just two ingredients, puff pastry and apples – of course he made it look so easy. We all found peeling and slicing the apple so thinly a bit of a challenge but that's just practice and the right tools! Out tarts were all put in the oven to bake while we watched the next demonstration on making choux pastry. Richard gathered us all round the bench and got us all involved in the process as we watched him make a big batch ready for us to have a go at piping. We were about to attempt his retro choux pastry swans and the Paris Brest! Piping bags all filled and baking trays all lined up we set about piping. He reminded us it was swans we were trying to make and not dinosaurs! The piping takes a little practice but nothing to be scared of, if it doesn't look right you just scrape it off and do it again. By the time we had piped all our choux swans and Brest's the apple tarts had come out of the oven and it was time for coffee and one of his rum soaked prunes which are deadly!
Our apple tarts had been glazed and were ready for us to enjoy with our coffee. I can't tell you how good the tarts were, the simplest thing but so tasty, possibly the best apple tart I've ever had and something I'll definitely be making again. Once our coffee break had ended we watched Richard show us how to make the tart fillings, again getting us all involved in the process we made a big batch of Creme patisserie and almond cream, tasting everything as we went along and learning how we could add different things to the bases to vary the flavours.
Next up we had to learn to roll out our pastry and line some of our little tins ready for filling. We all did a selection of salted and sweet pasty cases. Some of the sweet pastry cases were blind baked ready for piping with Creme patisserie for fruit tarts and the others filled with almond cream, fruit and baked to make little frangipan tarts. We all played about with decorating them with different fruits and filling combinations ready for later on.
Our salted pastry cases were used to make a selection of little quiches. We had lots of lovely cheeses, bacon, asparagus and tomatoes to choose as our fillings, these were all baked off ready for the end of class. While our quiches were in the oven Richard showed us some of the fillings we could make to fill the choux pastry buns, chantilly for the swans and the Creme au beurre with hazelnut paste to fill the Paris Brest. He showed us how to assemble our swans, then it was our turn to have a go, followed by filling the Paris breast and some other little raspberry biscuits we had made from the sweet pastry. Once all our tarts were ready we learnt how to glaze and finish them off, some with a dusting of icing sugar and brushed with a shiny apricot glaze.
Once everything was finished we arranged a display of all our baked goods on cake stands and slates, it was amazing seeing it all together. I can't believe how many different things we managed to create in quite a short space of time – it was like looking in through a bakery window. Presentation was important, you wouldn't want all that hard work to go to waste if it wasn't all arranged in a beautiful manner. It was the perfect opportunity to get a photo of our days work, then the best bit – sitting down to lunch to enjoy it all with a glass of wine. Richard and I were sat on the end of the table and shared a strawberry tart between us, followed by a Paris Brest! It was such a lovely end to the day sharing our feast around the table, and what was left we got to take home with us boxed up, including any unused pastry. After we had eaten there was a lovely selection of equipment laid out for us to buy if we wanted, all the tools we had used that day plus lots of other goodies. It's always nice to buy a little something to remind you of your day. I bought a dough scraper and a wooden pastry brush, I also asked Richard if he would sign my pastry book which he gladly did. It was such a fabulous day, I can't wait to go back again and learn more.
If you are thinking about doing a class there I can't recommend it highly enough.
I regularly made pastry before I went on this class, all types, I wondered how much I would learn when I went and the answer is I learnt loads. There's nothing like the experience of a professional showing you how to do it, along with all the tips you pick up.
I'm just trying to decide which class I shall do next.