(Gluten-free) Bake off in Bath
Muddy gets baking at the plant-based Demuths Cookery School in Bath
The innovative and inspirational cookery courses at Demuths Cookery School in Bath are all vegan, vegetarian or plant based – and the dishes you’ll learn to cook are de-lic-ious – as I discovered when I went on their one-day Gluten-Free Baking course.
Rachel Demuth, one of the UK’s leading plant-based chefs, owned the award-winning Demuths restaurant for 26 years before setting up the cookery school in 2010. Now she works with a team of chefs offering a myriad of cookery courses influenced by cuisines from around the world, for all levels of ability.
The cookery school’s in a Georgian building (natch, you’re in Bath) between Bath Abbey and Parade Gardens. It’s a great spot, I mean, this is the view from their staircase.
An artwork by Natasha Clutterbuck dominating the stairwell depicts the amazing array of vegetables grown within 15 miles of Demuths using natural dyes found in the Somerset countryside.
Courses take place in a huge, light and airy kitchen, with a demo area, stainless steel chefs benches, hobs and the same ovens – great excitement – used on Bake Off.
Helen, the former head chef at Demuths restaurant, was running the course. A natural teacher, she’s relaxed, friendly and calm (no Gordon Ramseys in this kitchen) and she pitched the course just right for a group that included some who were coming to gluten-free baking for the first time (me) and others who were already running their own cafes *gulp*.
It’s a mix of demonstrations and hands-on cooking, which creates a good rhythm to the day. You watch and learn while Helen cooks and talks, then you cook another recipe yourself and so on. With questions, suggestions and ideas going backwards and forwards all the time, it’s highly interactive.
This is a slick operation, so your utensils and ingredients are always ready and waiting (thanks TJ) throughout the day. Pans are on the hobs, ovens heated to the correct temperature – and all the washing up’s done for you.
They pack a hellava lot into the 10am-4pm day. We covered nine main recipes plus accompanying dishes, which are all planned around lunch and then afternoon tea (with wine), so you get to taste everything you make.
We learned masses: about different types of gluten-free flours – gram, tapioca, quinoa, green pea (really is green), buckwheat (gives a nutty taste), sorghum, corn, potato, rice and more – and about how and when to use them. Cooking techniques and plenty of professional chef’s tips (like a foolproof way to line a cake tin) thrown in along the way.
So onto the food…
Originating in Genoa and made with chickpea flour, artichoke hearts, sun blush tomatoes, capers, olives and herbs, farinata is a vegan version of an omelette or frittata. Delizioso!
Quick yoghurt naan
So simple: gluten-free flour, baking powder, olive oil, plain yoghurt and lemon juice. Add seeds or herbs for variety. Eat as flatbreads or maybe a pizza base?
Made with gluten-free, shortcrust-style pastry and Mediterranean veg filling, the empanadas made for a delicious lunch with farinata, naan, homemade chutney, khadi and salad.
Orange and almond cake
Moist and marvellously moreish, and made with fresh orange, spices, ground almonds, aqua faba (instead of egg whites) and gluten-free flour.
Aqua faba, the water from a can of chick peas or other pulses, whisks up into peaks just like egg whites.
We used a special press to create perfectly flattened Mexican tortillas (but two wooden chopping boards will do).
A few minutes in a hot pan.
Eat with guacamole …
… and tomato, coriander and chilli salsa.
Fermented buckwheat and seeded bread
Buckwheat groats soaked overnight and left to sprout for a couple of days plus sorghum flour, yeast and a selection of seeds: pumpkin, sesame, flax, sunflower….
… turns into a super healthy bread, which we ate still warm from the oven.
At the end of the day, armed boxes of food we’d cooked and shortbread biscuit dough to bake at home, a sheaf of recipes and further info, we left replete – and inspired.
Demuths run over 100 courses every year, covering cuisines from Ethiopian and North African to Japanese and Thai; on fermentation, nutritional, seasonal cooking, quick cooking, knife skills – even Food Photography for Instagram. All are vegan, some are raw or gluten-free. Evening (£75), half day (£95), full day (£180) and longer, like their weekend courses and week-long Diploma courses. See the full list of courses here.
Demuths Cookery School, 6 Terrace Walk, Bath BA1 1LN UK . Tel 01225 427938. demuths.co.uk