Lucy Cooks Cookery School

Laura Lebetkin gets some gluten-free instruction

For those who want a beginner’s guide to gluten-free cookery Lucy Cooks Cookery School in the Lake District offers basic baking skills for all your old favourites. The one-day course, which gives you tips and techniques, is especially good for recently diagnosed coeliacs who will have their self-confidence boosted and feel more secure in their baking skills.

Lucy also offers dairy-free cooking courses but I did not think that I could cope with more than one day’s instruction! The morning starts with coffee and a delicious gluten-free almondie (see recipe) followed by the first demonstration (gluten-free bread) by chef-tutor Lisa. This looked pretty easy. However it is important to take your own notes as when it came to making the bread later, there was no mention in the notes provided that you have to heat the milk – very important if you want your bread to rise!

The next demonstration was a sticky chocolate cake (Lisa stressed the importance of creaming the mixture and whisking the eggs so the cake is light and airy) followed by apple and cinnamon cake. Lisa’s recipes are all designed to be adaptable so that you can use your favourite flavourings.

After the demonstration it was our time to do some actual baking – would my skills be good enough? But no need to worry. Not only was Lisa around for guidance but all the ingredients were already prepared and weighed out for us. Cooking is so much more fun when someone else has done the tedious bits although on this course we did have to do the washing up!

So, for the next hour we made bread and apple cinnamon cake. This was great fun with lots of giggles and chatting about how we were getting on. With the cakes in the ovens and the bread in the hot drawer Lisa demonstrated how to make a gluten-free batter. No one had eaten fried fish for ages as they were far too nervous to make the batter themselves. Lisa made it look very easy, deep-frying her battered cod for 4–5 minutes and then serving it to us for lunch with a salad and chips, followed by the delicious sticky chocolate cake she had made in the morning.

After lunch Lisa showed us how to make scones and sweet or savoury pastry. The best tip of the day for me was that when you are rolling out your pastry, put it between two sheets of cling film. This prevents the pastry sticking to the working surface – brilliant!

For the rest of the afternoon, we made the scones and pastry for ourselves, under Lisa’s eagle eye – and then ate the scones for tea with scrumptious local jam!

Gluten-free almondies

Makes 20 biscuits:
3 egg whites lightly beaten
375g ground almonds
250g caster sugar
3 drops almond essence
flaked almonds

Heat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas mark 4
Lightly beat egg whites.
Add ground almonds, sugar and almond essence, then mix until combined into a paste.
Make small fat sausages approx 5cm long and then roll in flaked almonds.
Put onto lined baking sheet and bake until light golden colour approx 15 minutes.
Remove when cool and dust with icing sugar.

Laura stayed at the very pleasant Hillthwaite House Hotel in Windermere 01539 443 636

Contact Lucy Cooks Cookery School 015394 32288

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