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The Cookery School at Little Portland Street

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published January 25th 2020
Baking Classes
Watching The Great British Bake Off, I've often wished I could rustle up some bread or croissants but never knew where to start.

The cookery school at little Portland Street, review of baking class, cookery classes in London
The small entrance to The Cookery School in Little Portland Street

What could be better than getting some help and insider tips from a real chef - so I went along to the French Breakfast Pastries Class in The Cookery School at Little Portland Street.

I found the cookery school just a few minutes walk from Oxford Circus Tube Station. There's a small doorway at 15b Little Portland Street in Central London, near Regent Street, that opens out into two floors of fully working kitchens with mirrors and workstations - ideal for watching and also having a go yourself.

There was a warm welcome from Ghalid, my chef for the half day session, who had rustled up some of his freshly baked scones with cream and jam along with tea and coffee as a treat before the class got started. The nicest scones I've ever tasted, so a signal I was learning from an expert.

The cookery school at little Portland Street, review of baking class, cookery classes in London
Everything is prepared to make learning as easy as possible

Using experienced professionals, the class feels very organised with everything prepared in advance and high levels of cleanliness. Ghalid and his sous chef clean up work spaces constantly as they go along, meaning it never feels messy or haphazard (like my kitchen normally does). It also means it's an easier environment to learn.

It's also good to know that this is London's most sustainable cooking school with the highest possible rating for sustainability from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Interestingly, the cookery school has been virtually plastic-free since it was set up by chef Rosalind Rathouse in 2003. It sources seasonal food that is mostly organic and runs the kitchens on renewable energy.

Aimed at everyone from beginner's to more practised cooks, there's a wide range of classes that want to help people get back to making delicious home-made food by demystifying cooking techniques.

The cookery school at little Portland Street, review of baking class, cookery classes in London
The kitchens have mirrors and work stations so everyone can see what is happening and then have a go

The French Breakfast Pastries class, costing 135, is one of its most popular but there's a wide range of half and full day classes or longer courses from a Soughdough Bread Masterclass to how to cook fish and seafood, Middle Eastern food, Jewish dishes, vegan, macarons, pies - everything and anything food related.

The French pastry class gets under way with everyone getting their own apron and name badge - this is going to be a very hands-on course.

Following a demonstration first, there's a relaxed feel as Ghalid explains just how long it takes to make croissants, brioche, pain au chocolate and similar from scratch with days needed to proof and prep the dough.

Taking us all through the process step by step with already proofed dough, it's watch and learn before having a go yourself.

Ghalid makes everything look easy and trying it for myself made me realise just how much I needed expert guidance and how I could never have achieved this on my own at home. Understanding the methods of kneading and rolling this kind of pastry and the consistency it should be or not be is a revelation to me.

The cookery school at little Portland Street, review of baking class, cookery classes in London
Results after a morning French Breakfast Pastry cookery class

Each section is done in bite-sized chunks and everyone gets to create their own pastries that go in the oven and are baked and ready to try before the end of the class.

There's also tips into making creme patisserie for a Danish style pastry along with other culinary advice, like the different fat content in various supermarket butters.

They make it clear that you can ask anything about cooking along the way. I even found out that I wasn't using a rolling pin properly and it turned out that croissants with curved in ends are because they are made with margarine and not butter.

As trays of warm pastries fill up the work bench, i couldn't help but feel some pride and satisfaction that I had helped in some way to add to this bounty of goodies. I felt that I had the basics to go away and try it for myself at home without feeling so daunted.

We also got to take some dough we had worked on earlier to use and make pastries at home.

The class was useful but also fun and made me feel energised into trying something for myself at home rather than always buying from a shop. There's something very satisfying about that.

Classes at The Cookery School at Little Portland Street start from 135. You can find out more at the website here.
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Why? Learn how to bake french patisserie at cookery school
When: Every day Monday - Sunday, see various course times
Phone: 020 7631 4590
Where: Cookery School at Little Portland Street, 15b Little Portland St, Marylebone, London, W1W 8BW
Cost: From 135
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