Even as adults, that back-to-school September feeling is incredibly powerful. So throughout this month, we’re running the Stylist September Shake-Up – a series offering encouragement, advice and inspiration for everyone wanting to reinvigorate their lives as autumn begins.
“Baking may be regarded as science, but it’s the chemistry between the ingredients and the cook that gives desserts life” – Anna Olson.
Tis the season to step outside your comfort zone. However, if you’re a baking novice, you’re in for a pleasant surprise: not only will your new hobby taste good, but it will make you feel good, too.
The positive mental benefits of baking are numerous. As associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, Donna Pincus, told HuffPost: “Baking has the benefit of allowing people creative expression. There’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall wellbeing. Whether it’s painting or it’s making music [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”
Intrigued? We aren’t surprised. Here, we’ve put together a list of baking courses in the UK, from shortbread making in Scotland to French patisserie by a native. Get stuck in and mix up your routine, stat.
Make shortbread with an artisan baker in Edinburgh
Enjoy two hours of buttery fun with Jennifer, a real shortbread enthusiast who started making her own professionally 10 years ago when she realised there was nowhere she could find anything authentic and homemade. Using Scottish butter and organic local flour that’s grown and milled only 15 miles from her shop, you’ll get to hand roll and cut your shortbread, flavor it to your liking, and pick up all the tricks and tips you could ever want.
While you wait for your treats to bake, chat with Jennifer and others on the course over some chocolate shortbread, and then take your goods home to share with your family and friends. Classes cost £45 and can be booked here.
Learn Sottish baking in one of the oldest bakeries in Perthshire
Campbell’s bakery was first founded in 1830, and since then the Campbell family has continued to pass their knowledge and baking secrets from generation to generation.
These days the bakery is run by Iain Campbell, not only is he an award-winning confectioner but he also passes on more than a century of family knowledge to anyone who wishes to learn the hacks of Scottish baking: particularly Scotch Pies and Shortbread.
We love the sound of their Christmas Baking course, which teaches the art of making Stollen Bites and Christmas Cake Slices.
Courses cost £80 per person and classes are held once a month.
Make sourdough at a community bakery in Edinburgh
This social impact experience is lead by Debra who was mentored to become part of the Breadshare community when she was getting off the ground. She will teach you the ways of bread making as you make yourself part of the furniture at the Breadshare Bakery, assisting in the baking for the day by moulding bread dough and preparing ingredients. All activities will be supervised by experienced bakers who will explain how each bread is different.
After about two and a half hours you’ll get the chance to sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy some bakes, before taking home some sourdough with you. Places are £30 and can be booked here.
North of England
Make your own chocolate in Manchester
Sarah, the owner of the award-winning Cocoa Cabana Chocolatiers, will greet you with a mug of sweet hot chocolate as you arrive to her hour and half class, based in her lovely little shop in West Didbury. Chocolatiers will demonstrate how you can hand temper chocolate, how to prepare a ganache, pipe, fill and hand roll truffles, before you get started on making your own. Sarah’s products don’t use any artificial additives or preservatives and her shop is renowned for being one of the best in the area.
Classes run pretty frequently in both mornings and evenings, and places are £39.
Learn how to elaborately ice biscuits in West Yorkshire
Poppy Pickering cake shop in Ilkley is a cake-lovers dream. This stylish boutique specialises in elaborate, very Instagrammable celebration cakes and biscuits and offers customers the option to learn the tricks of the trade with bespoke classes. The team at Poppy Pickering offer a range of classes throughout the year, but we specifically like the sound of the iced biscuits option.
This full day course teaches you how to decorate shaped biscuits using a variety of techniques including mini flowers, little rosebuds, bows and create piping effects. You’ll also create hand painted looks, a chalkboard effect and piped borders, which sound super fancy.
The class runs from 9.30am to 4.30pm and is priced at £155.
Learn the best of what French patisserie has got to offer in Newcastle
Severine fell in love with the North East when she moved over from Northern France three years ago. Just as, you could say, as we fell in love with authentic French patisserie the first time we ever tasted it.
In her Newcastle bakery she not only makes brioches, Mille-Feuilles and lemon meringue cakes, but she also teaches anyone who wishes to, how to make these real French delicacies in her private classes in the bakery’s kitchen.
Whether it’s a good chocolate mousse, vanilla ganache or diplomat cream, Crème de la crème will make sure it tastes just like (French) heaven. Severine’s workshops are between three to four hours long for £45 per person.
Bake French macarons
Who better to learn how to bake a macaron from than the French? Maud describes herself as a worker in the digital industry in the week, but come the weekend she lets her passion for French patisserie run free, teaching this class in her home. Although she lives in London, Maud is originally from France and even takes the Eurostar back at weekends to attend pastry masterclasses. Over two and a half hours she will show you how to make perfectly formed macarons that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with just three simple ingredients.
Maud’s classes cater for six people and are priced at £39 per person.
Bake cupcakes and more at Peggy Porschen’s Academy
Want to bring your cupcake baking skills to a whole new level? Peggy’s unique techniques will definitely enable you to nail any bake-sales. Choose from a selection of masterclasses including boutique baking, cupcake baking and decoration, or prepare for Christmas early with their iced cookies class. Courses are limited to six to eight people and you’ll even receive a professional certificate at the end.
For those of you who are more ambitious, we recommend completing the “Grand Diploma” and kick starting your career in baking.
Peggy’s masterclasses (£345 per session) and Diploma Courses (from £895, up to £2000 per course) may be a bit pricy, but they’ll definitely give you a professional and glamorous insight to the world of baking.
Bake gluten free in Borough
Our increased awareness of food intolerances and allergies mean many of us have customised our diet to be free from a number of commonly used ingredients. This is all well and good, but it can be rather tricky to create a menu when inviting your friends over for afternoon tea that pleases everyone. What if their eating habits exclude gluten!?
No worries, no fear, you don’t have to give up on your dessert plans just yet. Bread Ahead Bakery offers a wide range of half-day workshops where you can not only take Modernist Bread Lectures but also gluten free classes. Phew.
Half day courses are only £90 while you can also pick a quick two hour course for only £40, see everything on offer here.
South of England
Bake traditional bread in Reading
Join Stephen for three and a half hours at his home to learn the craft of traditional bread making and have a good ol’ chinwag while doing it. This relaxed setting makes a great place to discuss bread making and swap tips as Stephen talks you through how to make a white, sun-dried tomato and fresh basil loaf, or a traditional cottage loaf for the more adventurous. Throughout the day you’ll eat some of your delicious creations along with a salad whipped up by your host, and try his homemade jams.
Places are £75 each and can be booked here.
Bake amazing cakes with Anna Tyler in Bristol
For those who want to master the secrets of piping and cookie decoration, award winning cake designer Anna Tyler’s cake shop is the place to go.
Anna’s cake wonderland is located in the heart of Bristol, and welcomes beginners just as much as more experienced bakers. Attend her Celebration Drip Cake Class and surprise your loved ones on their birthday with amazing buttercream cake creatures.
The price of £150 per person doesn’t sound that bad when you can take home not only knowledge, recipes and tips, but your first six layer cake too!
Bake bread in a cottage in Devon
What could be better for a city getaway than joining Dragan and Penny’s family owned Artisian Bakery School in Sparkwell? The Artesian Bakery School focuses not only on breads, pizzas and gluten free treats, but they make sure to use healthy and eco-friendly ingredients too. The cottage can be found in a magical looking woodland right next to Dartmoor National Park, a short bus ride away from Plymouth.
You can learn how to make ‘real bread’ for £135 per person, including the course book, lunch, refreshments and lots of bread to take home.
Has this article left you feeling inspired? Be sure to check out the rest of our Stylist September Shake-Up content here.
Images: Getty / Court Prather