Gluten Free Baking Course in London

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you enjoyed a lunch like this? With all the components gluten free, homemade and delicious. Some time ago, right? Would you know where to start with making gluten free flaky pastry to wrap around a sausage roll? Nope, me either. Until yesterday.

When I had to exclude gluten completely from my diet I went out and bought armfuls of gluten free cookery books. While some have proved to be more useful than others, it rapidly became pretty clear that I was going to need proper instruction on how to cook gluten free food that people would actually like to eat. I can follow a recipe but felt I needed some tuition to build my confidence to try and be more creative and experimental with gluten free baking.

Since then I have searched long and hard for a gluten free cookery class. My needs were pretty simple (or so I thought); gluten free cookery school, on a weekend and in London. Although I did find one gluten free cookery class run on an infrequent basis, it was not on a weekend. So as I work full time, doing one of these classes would mean paying the cost of the course as well as losing a very valuable day’s holiday from work.

So you can imagine my sheer delight when not only did I find a gluten free baking course on a date I could make and which was in London, it turned out to be held somewhat bizarrely in a cookery school two streets from where I live! Fantastic.

Arriving at the course, we were greeted with possibly the best cake I’ve ever tasted (gluten free or not). Moist, light and full of raspberries. My kind of start to a learning experience!

The gluten free baking course was organised by the lovely Sarah Jones who runs Especially Delicious cakes, a company specialising in gluten free celebration cakes. Sarah has been cooking and baking gluten free for 15 years since being medically diagnosed as having to live on a gluten free diet and her passion for baking was clear on the course.

The 8 participants on the course had various reasons for learning how to bake gluten free, from their own or a family member’s medical reasons, wanting to feel better and even in order to cook for a soon to be daughter in law who is Coeliac (what a nice mother in law to be!).

The course offered exactly the good introduction to gluten free baking I was looking for. We made gluten free bread, flaky and shortcrust pastry, pizza dough, sugar cookies, classic sponge and doughnuts! All gluten free. Looking back, this was quite a lot to fit into the day, but it didn’t feel at all rushed. One of the course participants was also dairy free and this was accommodated.

Here’s a few photos of what we made on the course…..

Sausage rolls with delicious flaky pastry:

I made these bread rolls made using Sarah’s basic bread recipe. I’m feeling confident enough to try making this bread at home but with some added seeds for extra fibre and taste:

And for the pièce de résistance; a gluten free doughnut made by my own fair hands, ta da!

I must be going soft because I brought this home for Mr D to try. For the record, he loved it.

What I liked about Sarah’s recipes used on the course was that they really focus on the flavour of the food. Sausage rolls, doughnuts and cakes are not going to feature in my diet every day but I really wanted to learn how to cook with gluten free flours for the times when I do want to use them. I also liked the fact the recipes did not call for complicated mixes of flours, the readily available Dove’s Farm gluten free flour was used.

Everything you need for the course is provided on the day, including a recipe booklet to take away of the items we cooked. We also left the course with a box of our baking to take home. This was good because I got to see how the items kept for the next day. The sausage rolls still tasted amazing!

Going forward, Sarah plans to run some more specialised courses focusing on specific aspects of gluten free baking such as a whole session on bread making. You can sign up for her mailing list here and be notified of upcoming courses and any offers.

Details

Cost: £155

Course Length: 9am to 4pm

Content: Basics of gluten free baking are covered and you should leave the course feeling confident and inspired to bake gluten free

Where: Battersea, London (Clapham Junction is the nearest train station)

Next course: Saturday 7th May 2011

Course website: www.glutenfreebaking.co.uk

Especially Delicious: Gluten free celebration cakes website

It’s also worth checking out the website of the Authentic Ethnic cooking school where Sarah’s gluten free baking course was held. The very knowledgeable owner Tertia explained her Vietnamese cooking class would be  suitable for those on a gluten free diet as would the forthcoming raw food class. Click here for forthcoming classes.

The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall: Where Gluten Free Meets The Sea

Having spent a blissfully peaceful few days at an amazing lighthouse clinging to the side of a cliff in deepest Cornwall, we decided to head to the Scarlett hotel for Mr D’s big birthday. In truth, it was a shocker of a day weather-wise, wet, dark and miserable. Yet somehow as we walked into the Scarlet hotel and we were greeted with the sight of an infinity edge pool (albeit not for swimming) slipping seamlessly into the sea beyond, my heart lifted.

The Scarlet is a 37 bedroom eco hotel located in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall. It’s quite close to Newquay, but not so close you actually need to go anywhere near Newquay but there are still plenty of great waves if surfing is your thing.  Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant is in neighbouring Watergate Bay.

The building is quite unique and certainly about as far removed as is possible from a British seaside hotel. I loved the unconventional layout and all the modern art works scattered around the hotel. We stayed in an ‘Indulgent’ room and felt a sense of liberation in the very different layout of our room. The freestanding egg shaped bath, toilet and shower were all located in three separate parts of the room instead of locked into a bathroom together.

In truth our Indulgent room located at sea thrift level had a compromised view of the sea. Having booked the room online, the hotel then called me and explained the position of the room and offered an us alternative if I wished to switch rooms. I was most impressed with this customer focused approach. Better for us to know in advance than arrive and be disappointed. In the end we decided to stay with the room we had booked.

I’d ordered a birthday cake for Mr D and this year decided that I’d try and organise a gluten free cake. Well, if you don’t ask you don’t get, right? I’d been very clear about the cake’s contents when ordering and it genuinely seemed as though it wasn’t going to be a problem for the hotel to organise. It tasted seriously good….

We arrived as lunch was still being served so ventured into the dining room. Initially I had just wanted a salad but was coerced into trying the very reasonable lunch menu at £16 for 2 courses. As always, I explained my dietary restriction and the waiting staff were very knowledgeable about the food and were able to tell me what I could eat from the menu (this was consistent throughout my stay). I was impressed they seemed quite clued up on intolerances. For example when I told them I couldn’t eat gluten, I was asked if dairy was also a problem for me. Very smart.

This amazing plate of gluten free bread was placed in front of me…..There were THREE types; white, poppy seed and sun dried tomato. How great is that? I was lucky enough to enjoy this gluten free bread later at dinner and also at breakfast the following morning.

The gluten free bread tasted absolutely amazing. I was told guests often ask the chef for the recipe – it really does take taste that good. Not at all sweet and with a proper crispy, crunchy crust.

While I sat enjoying my delicious lunch of duck with pickled vegetables followed by pollock with aubergine and roasted artichoke over a glass of Cornish sparkling wine I couldn’t help thinking something seemed to be missing…..Noise….From little people. I looked around and realised that despite this being half term week there were no kids. Yep, the Scarlet is a hotel for grown ups. Hurrah. Tranquility.

As we sat enjoying lunch and watching the waves on the beach below, the sun burnt through the clouds. This photo was taken approximately 1 hour after the photo at the start of this blog:

In the afternoon we booked a session in the ruby red tea cups (just visible in the photo above) for a detoxifying seaweed bath. When we booked the spa treatment it was dark and raining so we felt like pioneers planning on venturing outside in the cold, wet February afternoon. But Mr D had lady luck smiling on him as we padded outside in our dressing gowns because the sun was out we felt like lottery winners as we ordered another glass of the really rather good Cornish sparkling wine to sip in the spa bath and watch the waves on the beach below.

We both really enjoyed dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. I had salmon mi-cuit adjusted to be gluten free and for main course I chose ray wings with purple sprouting broccoli served with a gloriously rich Bourgogne sauce. Dessert for me was probably the most perfect dessert I’ve never thought of eating, honeycomb parfait with stewed rhubarb. Simply delicious.

The Scarlet’s website lists the many activities on offer from surfing, to kayaking to tree climbing. Most days there is a complimentary yoga class and I really wish I’d brought my kit. This is the perfect, calm place to practice.

There are lots of reasons to come to the Scarlet hotel but if you need to eat gluten free, you will be well looked after here.