I had the pleasure to attend a full day Patisserie and Dessert Course at Raymond Blanc Cookery School. The course took place in the luxurious surroundings of the hotel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, a restaurant and hotel in Oxfordshire, England.
Le Manoir, part of Relais & Chateaux portfolio, is one of the most luxurious and magnificent country hotels in Britain. Within the hotel sits a 2-star Michelin restaurant, opened by Raymond Blanc OBE in 1984, and renowned as one of the UK's leading gastronomic destinations.
From the superb skills and expertise of Raymond Blanc and his team of chefs and tutors come The Raymond Blanc Cookery school. The school offers a wide range of classes and events open to enthusiastic novices and professional cooks alike. It’s a fantastic place to soak up classic French cooking skills and baking techniques from Mr Blanc's expert chefs.
The 7-hour Patisserie and Dessert Course was the perfect choice for me as it covered classic techniques from Le Manoir’s repertoire: from macaroons and soufflé to lemon tart and sorbet. I learnt invaluable tips from my tutor Rebecca Boast and benefited from the hands-on tuition.
The full day courses at the school include breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea with fellow students. After our breakfast in the hotel lounge and introductions with our tutor Rebecca, we donned the chef’s whites (a gift for us to keep) and aprons and walked over to Le Manoir’s kitchens.
The course schedule was packed with recipes, so much that I could hardly believe we would be able to make them all in one day. But we did, with the help of Rebecca of course. The day was intense and tiring, but also inspirational and insightful. I left the school that afternoon feeling inspired and with my mind full of tips and tricks I will no doubt use in the future.
I learnt how to roll the pastry for Lemon Tart, which strawberry varieties to use for a Fraisier Cake, how to make the most of vanilla pods and how to create perfectly smooth macaroons. I had always been too scared to make macaroons, but with the help and tips from Rebecca I now feel confident to try this recipe at home. Aside from my baking achievements, the day spent at the Raymond Blanc School was a really fun and sociable experience that I would recommend to anyone with a passion for baking and cooking.
Le Manoir sits within impressive gardens, so after lunch Rebecca took us on a tour of the hotel’s premises including a wander around the immaculate kitchen garden. The garden is used to grow sustainable and heritage vegetables, but also to educate students and guests on the importance of organic gardening.
The course ended around 4:30pm and I left the school with all my cakes and macaroons to take away as well as my chef whites and a framed course Diploma. This was the most thorough baking course I have ever attended and I have learnt a lot of invaluable knowledge in patisserie and desserts.