Betty’s Cookery School: Baking Course
I adore Betty’s – there I’ve said it.
For those that have never heard of Betty’s, it’s an establishment renowned in Yorkshire for its six luxurious cafes that celebrate the cookery styles of Swiss meeting Yorkshire.
A few weekends ago we went to the award winning Betty’s cookery school based in Harrogate, for a baking course.
Being a massive advocate of Betty’s, this was not my first Betty’s cookery course. From a being a young girl and attending their Christmas course for children, to being a bright eyed graduate partaking in their two week intensive cookery course, I have always loved going to their cookery school.
Luke, myself and Luke’s brother were up for the challenge. Being blind, Luke’s brother needed the support of Luke to take part in the course. Betty’s couldn’t have been any more attentive, and doing so without being overbearing. Checking on him and constantly complementing his skills in the kitchen. I’ve known him 2 years and I’ve never seen him smile so much.
Tip: If you are planning on booking a course for someone who needs a little extra help, I would recommend booking for 1 person rather than 2. By booking for 1 person it means the second person (the helper) can focus fully on supporting, rather than concentrating on their cooking – saving you money as well as stress. Remember to inform Betty’s prior to your visit, just so they are aware and prepared.
An early start, with instructions to arrive at Betty’s for 8:30 am to begin at 9am. On entering the school you are greeted and then invited to sit down at one of their guest area tables. Betty’s biscuits, a bowl full of fruit and tea/coffee were there to start our mornings off. A little later on in the morning we were given a basket of pikelets and pain au chocolate. Each one of us on the table had our very own recipe folder and pen. Prior to going on the course we knew we were going to be making a mocha cake, lemon meringue cupcakes and jam shortbread biscuits. Despite our awareness, the folder clarified all the information we needed for the day.
It was then time for introductions. Chris Taylor and Lisa Bennison were the two Betty’s course tutors who would be taking us through the baking course that day. The course begins by gathering around a demonstration area within the kitchen, and you listen and watch the course tutor taking you through each section of the dish you are creating.
Tip: The recipe book you are given is filled with all the information you need, however make sure you listen to the course tutors, as they often tell you things which aren’t in your book. Using your pen you can make notes in your recipe book of those tips. Truth be told, they will often make your end result just that little be easier to achieve and better in taste.
The step by step process isn’t always entirely separate for each item you are making. Within a 10 minute demonstration you can go from, for example, how to make the cake for the lemon meringue cupcakes to how to create the dough for your shortbread biscuits.
After each demonstration you return to you designated kitchen station. There are three people to a kitchen area; meaning if you are cooking solo or joined by a friend, you have the opportunity to make a new friend in your kitchen. On returning after a demonstration to your kitchen station, you will have a food crate filled with of all the ingredients you need for that section on your work surface – these ingredients majority of the time are already weighed out for you.
Tip: Some of the ingredients come in a pinch pot. A pinch pot means you only take a small amount of it for yourself, and share the rest amongst your kitchen team. Get this wrong and you could seriously mess up your creation!
For this baking course, our morning session concentrated on the actual baking of the goods. When you have finished creating your mixtures, you wait for all your group to be ready before putting yours in the oven to be baked. This means no one’s bakes are ruined by another member in your team opening and closing the oven door to check on their own.
For lunch we were served a beautiful piece of salmon alongside a rocket salad with dressing, and a courgette, carrot side. Along with this there was a fresh bread basket, and bottles of rose and white wine. Following the main meal we were served a citrusy orange cheesecake, and offered teas/coffees. Before your attendance, the Betty’s team do clarify if you have any allergies, or require a vegetarian dish for the meals you have whilst there.
Tip: Lunch time is a great point to chat to your fellow course attendees, or even have a look around the cook shop within the cookery school. Here you can buy Betty’s related items, as well as useful utensils you will have been using throughout your time in the school. Here are the items I highly recommend purchasing from the cook shop:
CDN food thermometer
The second part of our day focused on the decorating of our baked goods. Dollops of jam were needed in our shortbread biscuits, whilst the other two items required greater skills. The lemon cupcakes required a small hole to be made in them and be filled with the lemon curd. Then we needed to create the Italian meringue that sat on top; different to french meringue in the fact it includes a caramelising process to add to the egg whites. To finish off the meringue, the group used a blow torch to create that beautiful golden brown appearance.
The chocolate mocha cake required the most elements. The melting of gelatin, sugar, then adding of chocolate and butter to create the glossy chocolate glaze. The coffee mascarpone was piped inside and on top of the cake, making this my favourite thing to devour from the course!
Tip: For some reason, when in the cooking mode, people seem to think the quicker you do things the better. Please don’t be this person. Take your time during the whole of your course. If you rush you can easily make mistakes, and ruin your outcomes.
If you are interested in cooking, whether you consider yourself experienced or not, I can’t recommend enough attending a Betty’s cookery school course. They have such a vast range of courses, there is literally something for everyone; from courses for young chefs to courses on how to make curries. It’s a great present for a special person in your life. Even if you don’t attend the course with them, they are in for a wonderful time. You don’t just learn useful techniques, you’ll realise it’s all replicable in the comfort of your own home. The demonstrations are very clear to understand, whilst offering constant support if you need it from their extremely encouraging cookery school tutors. Most importantly, all the courses follow the Betty’s way, in which they only use the finest of ingredients. Why not go discover it for yourself?
Betty’s social channels