Hubs likes to think he is the king of pork pies in this household. He makes them hand raised with traditional jelly made from pig’s trotters. 2013 GBBO contestant Beca has recently started to do some baking courses at Seasoned Cookery School just down the road from us (yes that explains why I mention them a lot!) and I decided to take the opportunity to see if I could swipe Hub’s pork pie crown.
The day started with a short drive past the carpet of bluebells to the Catton Hall estate and I have no shame in being one of the first people to delve into the fluffy chocolate orange cake awaiting course participants. Well I had to keep my energy levels up didn’t I? Clare, who runs Seasoned, knows me all too well.
The day was made up of demonstrations by Beca and practical sessions on both hot and cold savoury pastry. For lunch we ate some of the dishes Beca had demonstrated.
I’ve made puff pastry before but never rough puff. Beca made both types to show the difference in techniques and amount of butter used (traditional puff = scary amount!) but also how the end product is very similar. We had a go at making our own batch of rough puff to take home and mine is now in the freezer waiting to be transfored this weekend into the vegetable tart Beca made for our lunch. A delicious puff tart with cheesy bechamel sauce topped with ribbons of vegetables and parma ham.
Beca then showed us a suet pastry that is perfect for steamed puddings using leftover stew. If we didn’t have an alleged heat wave on its way this weekend I’d be certainly trying to recreate this delicious dish in the coming days. Before we could sit down to lunch we had some pork pies to make.
I’ve never made hot crust pastry before, but I now love it. Such a beautiful pastry to work with. We added some strong bread flour to the pastry to make it more pliable. What made these pork pies different to the style Hubs makes is that we made them in a muffin tin rather than hand raised. This means they are easier to make and fill, especially for beginners. Also makes it easier to get the pies a more uniform size. I found the process really rather therapeutic.
After a leisurely lunch it was time for choux pastry that would be filled with either jalapeño or Stilton flavoured cream cheese. Choux pastry can be temperamental at times and will sometimes fail for no good reason. Thankfully luck was on my side and by using Beca’s recipe I managed to make a decent batch. Some of these are also now sitting unfilled in the freezer waiting to be made into salted caramel profiteroles this weekend.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day. I’m certainly no beginner when it comes to pastry making but it’s always handy going on courses to pick up tips and recipes. Any long-term reader of this blog knows I like to spend a day at a cookery school. Beca is honestly one of the nicest people I’ve met tutoring a course. She was down to earth, happy to give advice without being patronising and lovely to have a good old chin wag with.
The kitchen fairies (aka Jo, Tania & Martha) were stars and many a time have I wished they lived with me. Whenever you attend a course at Seasoned all the ingredients are weighed out ready for you and any dirty equipment is whipped away for cleaning before you know it. As someone who knows what it’s like to be washing what feels like the hundredth plastic mixing bowl after leading a course the kitche fairies are worth their weight in gold. It meant we could concentrate on learning new skills. The team also dealt well with my potential issues on the day that could hinder my participation in the course.
As to who won the pork pie war? As Hubs failed to provide examples of his own baking to be taste tested against mine Clare & Beca declared mine to be the winner. Hubs was impressed too, though he is yet to commit to saying mine are better. The fact that he ate 5 over a 24 hour period is good testimony.