This class was independently paid for.
My birthday present this year was a pastry making class at the Sydney Cooking School. It was a gift from Stuart, that I chose and sent him the details to book, which was also a gift for him. You see I never learned how to make proper pastry. It just wasn’t a skill that anyone had that they could pass down to me.
My lack of pastry making skills has been a challenge in the Aussie household. One of the staple ways of using leftovers is to slap them in some pastry and hope for the best. This country loves a meat pie. My fillings were good, but the frozen pastry I used left, well something to be desired. I tried learning from the Internet to no avail. Pastry is just one of those things you need some expert guidance to get the texture right.
Enter Executive Chef Brett Deverall and his 4 hour Purely Pastry class. It is a journey through savoury and sweet pastry. We made, and took home for future use, five pastries; puff, flakey, sweet, shortbread and choux. The morning started with puff as it does take the four hours to make from scratch. I’m not talking about a cheats puff where you cut the butter into the flour. It’s a proper puff pastry where you make the book, rolling the butter into the flour. While it is resting between books you tackle the other 4 pastries using a variety of hand and mechanical methods to incorporate the butter and flour. In the middle there’s a lunch break to enjoy a quiche that you make from your flakey pastry followed by a chocolate ganache tart made with the sweet pastry.
The pace of the class is good for a competent home cook. One of the participants was fairly new to cooking and struggled to keep up so I can not recommend this to a beginner. To be fair it is advertised as a “pastry master class”. The facilities are excellent. The room was well air conditioned, which was much needed on the hot and humid day of the class. The baking tools were all in good measure and there was adequate space to roll out the pastry.
Brett is a very good teacher. He would get us started and then wander along the bench giving tips and pointers to get it right. I found this very useful as the space was small enough you could see and hear what he was saying to the other seven participants. This also happened to be the one drawback for the class as Brett did get a bit testy with the “struggler”, yelling and admonishing him at one point. It reminded me a bit of one of those “Yes, Chef!” moments from those cooking shows. It really did make us all uncomfortable and I said, perhaps a bit too loudly, to my pastry-partner that I was now afraid he might yell at me. To his credit Brett did lighten up after that.
Not only did we get tips for making pastry; handle as little as possible, rest as long as possible, he gave us tips and demonstrated techniques on how to cook the pastry while preparing the quiches and ganache tarts. These nuggets were like gold to me. I learned how to get a crispy bottom to a quiche, the best way to freeze my homemade pastry and that I never need to blind bake again. It wouldn’t be fair for me to share these with you, it’s his intellectually property after all, you’ll have to take his class.
Now I never have to buy frozen pastry again. All up it was an enjoyable class. At $175 it is pricey, but considering the length of the class, the expert knowledge being handed down and that you go home with a couple of kilos of pastry, it is worth the cost in my view. I learned heaps and have since been putting my newly found pastry skills to good use, much to Stuart’s pleasure. Would I do it again, you betcha!
Enjoy my friends.
As always, whenever making lifestyle changes be sure and consult your healthcare team. Under no circumstances should you stop or start taking medication or supplements without their consent.
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