I was introduced to Clare just over two years ago. We had both recently set up food education businesses in the Midlands and were biology graduates. Trust me, us biology graduates are a food-loving, enterprising bunch. I’ve seen Clare’s business grow and this month Seasoned opened a permanent venue at Catton Hall, a private estate on the banks of the River Trent between Burton-on-Trent and Lichfield. Seasoned is based in one of the old stable blocks there. There is a large dining room with local artists’ work adorning the walls then a large, airy, long classroom with three main workstations and a teaching desk at the front.
Seasoned run a range of courses and last week I visited to take part in the new Brilliant Baking course with GBBO finalist Brendan. The day started with us making the Pâte Brisée pastry for the Normandy Apple Tart, we then began to prepare our Chelsea Bun dough. My Normandy Apple Tart was slightly rebellious, well as anarchic as you can be with a tart. I broke with tradition and put the apples in a slightly different order giving more of a flower in the middle. This was all intentional, ahem. Over lunch we chatted about GBBO and Brendan let us in to a few secrets about Paul, Mary and the whole GBBO process, but just like Holly Bell’s course last year, what’s said on the course stays on the course. After lunch we finished the Chelsea buns and made some blueberry muffins. The day was inter-spaced with demos from Brendan, then while we were working he would pop around and give guidance. I’m very much a kinesthetic learner so really appreciated that it was a very hands on course and we all made everything. I also loved that all the ingredients were weighed and sorted for you, an ace Seasoned team eve whisked away any washing up. Can I have someone like this at home please?!
What I loved about the set up of the classroom was that it worked really well and it made it easy to chat with the other people on your workstation, which for me included Claire, Juila and MD of Silverwood Bakeware, Simon Silverwood. All of the baking pans used at Seasoned are from Alan Silverwood and they are fabulous pans. My Christmas Pudding sphere is from them.
For a change I had taken my SLR to the day, but because it was so hands on there wasn’t really an opportunity to take decent pictures without covering my camera in a coating of flour and sugar. My fellow workbench pal Clare from Things We Make was there and took some fabulous photos of the day of which you can see on her blog. She also has posted the recipe for Brendan’s Normandy Apple Tart. One thing I do recommend is secure your baking for the drive home. I did quite a lame job. The twisty lanes near Catton sent my baking flying. The muffins didn’t look too photogenic after the drive, but amazingly the tart stayed intact.
Through Seasoned Hubs has learnt how to smoke food ad make pork pies then later this week he’s heading to Catton Hall for the first time to learn all about Sushi & Japanese food with Andrew Kojima. I’m very much looking forward to tasting the green tea panna cotta he may be making. A big thanks to Clare for inviting me along and a heap of praise to all the fabulous Seasoned staff .