If you have ever travelled up to York or Harrogate, you may well be familiar with Betty’s Tea Rooms. The York branch was never without a queue of tourists snaking from the door, desperate to take tea and scones in the beautifully appointed dining room. Everyone with a passion for baked goods should try a Betty’s Fat Rascal at some point.
What you may not know is that Betty’s have their own cookery school, situated on a little industrial park just outside Harrogate within spitting distance of the Betty’s bakery (wherein all of said Fat Rascals are brought to being) and the Taylors of Harrogate factory (purveyors of Yorkshire Tea, the only one acceptable in our house). They do a range of courses encompassing various types of cooking and baking. And a week and a bit ago there I was, participating in their Artisan Breads Day.
Now, this is not a sponsored post. The trip was, in fact, a birthday present from my husband whose talent for choosing appropriate gifts is unmatched. But you could be forgiven for thinking that Betty’s had paid me a good deal of money to talk about the course, as opposed to D paying them a lot of money to allow me to attend, so high is the level of gushing likely to be.
Because this was a really, really good day.
Bread making is something I’ve become increasingly interested in and, in the last couple of years, begun to develop a vague proficiency. This was the perfect course to really take those basic skills and start to hone them.
We made four types of bread over the course of the day: Cheese and Chive, Pumpkin Seed, English Rye and Flaked Wheat. If you held a baguette to my head and made me choose, I might have to admit that the Cheese and Chive just about squeaked into pole position for me, but each and every loaf was utterly delicious.
Most excitingly, I made all of them entirely by hand. For someone who has always relied quite heavily on my Kitchen-Aid’s dough hook as a semi legitimate shortcut, this was a truly satisfying achievement.
What I found particularly interesting was the economy of movement required by the Real Life Betty’s Baker’s kneading technique which the whole class aspired to emulate. By the end of the day, I certainly felt that I had a basic grasp and, if I can’t quite accomplish it with one hand casually behind my back (yet!) I’m going to work on it.
But it wasn't just the subject matter but the whole experience that was brilliant, and I’m already eager to go back and try another course. The school itself is well equipped, the charming presenters knew their stuff inside out AND they ply you with food and copious amounts of tea throughout (croissants…biscuits…two course lunch…cake…) It was a fabulous day and, as soon as we have chomped our way through the bread mountain that I lugged home, I will be sure to put my newfound skills to good use.
Incidentally – if you are a bread baking enthusiast looking to source some different types of flour then this website was recommended to us and seems to be well worth checking out. I haven’t ordered anything myself yet but the range looks good and it comes with a Betty’s seal of approval. Which, if you’ve ever tasted a Fat Rascal, you will know is well worth having.
Betty's Cookery School