28 November 2010

Brasserie Bread: Christmas Pies & Puddings Class, Banksmeadow (26 Nov 2010)

1737 Botany Road, Banksmeadow NSW 2019

Proof is in the pudding

Christmas Puddings, Fruit mince pies and Gingerbread – Learn how to prepare and bake these scrumptious and ever-popular seasonal treats just in time for the holiday season. To spice things up, we’ll show you how to decorate your own Gingerbread, which makes for a great gift to that special someone. From rolling, baking, filling and finishing – this class is the perfect Christmas activity to kick-start the merry season!

Thanks to a giveaway competition run by fooderati and Brasserie Bread I was one of the lucky winners to be chosen to attend the Christmas Pies & Puddings Class valued at $130. This special 3-4 hour baking workshop started at 10 am and our informative and friendly artisan bakery teacher Matt Brock first welcomed us with a glass of Grange Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay and a tasty sample of the fruit mince pie we were going to learn how to make — it's never too early for a glass of sparkling, right. The compact class of only 8 students was a good size and all the ingredients and equipment was provided. Being a novice in the kitchen and having never baked a cake this was a great experience and even the professional cooks in the class found it very worthwhile.

We first learnt how to make the Christmas Pudding mixture which was a simple recipe although I found it quite a challenge to get my mixture looking as firm as the others in the class but thankfully it still turned out well. Next we learnt how to make some sweet shortcrust pastry from scratch for our fruit mince pies. This was relatively simple to make and my perfectly sausage shaped wrapped pastry for the fridge was commended by the teacher. It was then on to preparing the fruit mix which started with a base of mix fruit which had been soaked in brandy for at least a week — the longer the better ie months. We added freshly grated Granny Smith apple and spices for extra flavour. While the sweet shortcrust pastry was chilling in the fridge it was creative time in decorating our gingerbread biscuits that had already been baked for us. The icing was naturally coloured with either beetroot or spinach which is an excellent healthy alternative to using unnatural colouring dyes. Matt demonstrated the best way of piping which reminded me of the macaron dessert class by Adriano Zumbo.

Once the sweet shortcrust pastry was chilled it was time to divide, flatten and cut for the foil trays. This was probably the most challenging and fiddly part of the day but after a few it became easier. Once completed the pies were baked for 12 minutes and our labour of love was ready to take home. After our class we were treated to a factory tour where we watched their signature sourdough bread loaves being baked to perfection. It was also interesting to see the pastry kitchen in full swing where apricot and rhubarb tarts were being prepared and danishes being made up. Upon returning to the classroom it was time to relax and enjoy more sparkling, wine and a selection of delicious bread samples with some quality tasting taramasalata, smoked salmon and cheeses. All in all it was a fantastic day and learning and fun with some excellent Brasserie Bread food sampling.

Other visits to Brasserie Bread:
15 Sept 2011 - Unearthing Artisan Baking Workshop
26 Nov 2010 - Christmas Pies & Puddings Class

PROS: Learning from the experts, All ingredients and equipment provided, Behind the scenes tour of factory, Bread tastings with cheese, Yummy pies and puddings to take home, Small fun class
CONS: It's a long half day but worth it, Need to make your way to Banksmeadow
MUST TRY: Sharing the fruit mince pies and Christmas pudding

Welcoming the class
Matthew Brock welcomes everyone with a glass of sparkling

Compact class

Fruit mince taste sample

A glass of Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay

Making Christmas Pudding

Beat suet 90 gram and brown sugar 60 grams together

Gradually mix in 2 free range eggs

This is how mine looked (below) compared to a good one

This is how it should look

This is how mine looked :-(

Stir in 130 grams of organic raisins, sultanas and currants that have been soaked in Guiness overnight

Add mixed spice 6 grams, nutmeg 10 grams, cinnamon 20 grams

This is what the mixture should look like

This is what my mixture looked like :-(

Add a pinch of salt

Add 40 grams of sourdough breadcrumbs and sift 60 grams of unbleached organic plain flour

Final mixture

Grease individual foils

Cook the puddings 'au bain marie', covered with foil in the oven at 170ºC for 1.5 hours

Christmas pudding

Serve with Creme Anglaise

Making sweet shortcrust pastry
Unsalted butter 100 grams, icing sugar 65 grams

Sift icing sugar into butter

Mix butter and icing sugar

Add 20 grams of almond meal

Add a dash of vanilla bean paste

Gradually add 35 grams of free range eggs

Add a pinch of river salt

Stir in 165 grams of unbleached organic plain flour

Wrap in cling film

Store in the fridge to firm until ready to use

Making fruit mince pies
Brandy soaked mixed fruit

Add ground cinnamon, mixed spice, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom

Add grated Granny Smith apple

Divide sweet shortcrust pastry

Flatten pastry, cut and mould into foil trays

Fill pastry with mixed fruit and cover with pastry

Students preparing their fruit mince pies

Fruit mince tarts before baking

Final baked fruit mince tarts

Gingerbread decorating
Preparing the icing

Naturally coloured icing with beetroot

Naturally coloured icing with spinach

Icing demonstrated

Lollies to decorate the gingerbread

My before and after gingerbread

Lots of creative decorating by others

Factory tour
Freshly baked sourdough

Hairnets are all the rage these days

Transporting the sourdough from oven to cooling racks

Sourdough ready for the oven

Slicing the tops of the sourdough before baking to help keep its form

Vacuuming the bread oven of crumbs after each baking cycle

Pastry kitchen

Slicing up the pastry for danishes

Making apricot and rhubarb tarts

Food and drink sampling
Taramasalata, Smoked salmon, Yarra Valley Geo George goats cheese, Jindi Cheese Old Telegraph Rd Washed Rind

ALTO Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay, Grant Burge Pinot Gris 2009, De Bortoli Gulf Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

My take away goodies — Christmas pudding and fruit mince pies

The kitchen ingredients shelf

Professional photographer from Daily Telegraph

Extensive variety of breads

Goodie bag of Sourdough loaf

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Brasserie Bread on Urbanspoon


Kristy Sayer-Jones @ Southern In Law said...

What a fantastic class! I love christmas baking

Dolly said...

always wanted to learn how to make short crust.. though its too challenging ..

love the photo of the pinch of salt.. :)

for the love of cinnamon =)

The Book Harvest said...

Great post Simon! I thought you did quite well considering you mentioned you never baked before. I'll bet it all tasted excellent.

Mei said...

Great write up and pictures Simon! Glad you got to come along and experience this great class (and discovered an old friend along the way!)

Myriam @ Detours said...

Fab post Simon! I was lucky enough to attend another baking class at Brasserie Bread, and I absolutely loved it...

"Tres" cute gingerbread decorations, and these Xmas pudding and mince fruit pies look utterly delicious (speaking of which, Kakawa Chocolate in Darlinghurst have just launched a limited edition Christmas-pudding chocolate for Xmas, to die for!).

Anna said...

Looks like a really fun and educational day... I'm so hungry for Christmas food now!

Simon Leong said...

hi kristy, if you get a chance to do a class with them i'm sure you won't regret it.

hi dolly, the recipe they did was pretty easy and i think if you have the right ingredients it's simple and works well. it wasn't easy getting that pinch of salt shot with one messy hand hehe

hi the book harvest, i shared the fruit mince tarts at work and they loved them. some of the best they'd ever had. not too sweet and full of flavour. Brasserie Bread sure know how to cook.

hi mei, that was so freaky bumping into an old high school mate hehe life works in mysterious ways for sure.

hi myriam, thanks for the tip off for the christmas-pudding chocolate at Kakawa. i'll have to make some time to visit them again.

hi ladybird, december seems to be a month of eating and drinking. bring it on! :-)

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