I have finally come down from the sugar rush after devouring the delicious monster cake I made last Friday at Vale House Kitchen. My best friend Emma from Skull Mad Mama was lucky enough to win a competition for a day course at the cookery school based near Bath in Timsbury, Somerset, and kindly invited me along as her plus one. The whole day was amazing!
I didn’t really know what to expect, I love baking, making cakes and just generally cooking! After all my dad is a master chef, and has taught me well. However I fail miserably at making stunning birthday cakes for the kids, some times I’ve even resorted to buying them a supermarket special as I just can not recreate their favourite character into a cake.
This course costs £135 for the day, 10am until 5pm with lunch included (I have to add we had a delicious BBQ cooked by Bod next to the pool and it was so relaxing, I could have quite happily relaxed there all day). There is no parking on site, so we parked in the nearby village of Timsbury by the church and Bod kindly picked us up and brought us to the cookery school. They are happy to collect you from either the village or Bath train station if you prefer not to drive, however remember you do get to take the cake home.
I was surprised at how long it takes to decorate a cake and I can now fully appreciate why cake makers charge so much for a hand decorated cake. Our teacher Sandra Monger is Bath’s leading wedding cake and celebration cake designer. In 2012 Sandra was awarded the title of Celebration Cake Maker of the Year at the prestigious British Baking Industry Awards and was featured on the Wedding Industry Awards’ regional shortlist for the title of Best Wedding Cake Designer. So we could not ask for a more qualified teacher, but seeing the end results, you can just tell what a good instructor Sandra is.
We learnt every thing from icing a board, filling a piping bag, working with icing and colouring. The skills I have come away with, will change every thing. I am now so excited for Alanas’ birthday in September to create my own birthday cake for her using the techniques I have learnt. I can see it developing into a hobby, as I found myself stood in the baking aisle of Waitrose wondering what I could buy next.
Every thing needed to create the cake was provided, including the cake board, tools and ingredients. All the ingredients were the best quality, either organic or locally sourced. The whole day we were thoroughly looked after by Bod and his wife, I actually felt very relaxed and refreshed when I left. It is not often I have a whole day away from the children, let alone the computer, social media and technology. It would actually make a great day for a hen party, I can just imagine a day with all my girl friends learning a new skill, enjoying a delicious lunch and then maybe hitting Bath for a evening out afterwards.
So was the course value for money? YES! The money I am going to save from not buying 3 cakes a year! Not only that, Xmas cake, Easter Cake, I really can’t wait to find any old excuse to make another cake. Ive even had a friend already ask me to make a cake for her childs birthday. If like me you already enjoy baking but didnt know you did not need to rub icing sugar all over a rolling pin before rolling out icing?? Or am I the only one?
They offer a whole selection of courses from fishing, shooting, cooking, foraging, baking.. the list seems endless. I already have my eye on 2 more courses. Gluten free cooking, as the whole concept scares me, but my husband is gluten and dairy free and it would be good to cook him some new exciting food. Then there is the butchery course, Pig butchery in a day covers pig husbandry, breaking down of the pig into primary cuts then roasting joint and chops, the art of sausage, bacon and air dried ham. Hot smoking and cold smoking and lunch is provided.
Enjoy the rest of my photographs showing my monster morph from a lump of sponge into a fuzzy purple haired, 5 eyed 6 clawed beast! Then just look at the last image showing all our our cakes together, each one is amazing! Just goes to show what a difference it makes when your instructor is so skilled. Sandra explained every thing so well, and made it all very easy.
Thank you Emma for inviting me to come with you, and a massive thank you to Bod & Annie for having us in your cookery school and the welcoming hospitality. Finally thank you Sandra for every thing you have taught us. I really hope to be back soon learning more skills for my kitchen.