With a glorious view across to the South Downs, Quince House Cookery School’s kitchen is bright, airy and inviting. At this time of year, founder and owner Katharine Eldridge has plenty of seasonal help available: with upcoming classes including Christmas Preparation, Festive Entertaining and Festive Baking, even the most hesitant chef will be able to rustle up a feast they can feel proud of.
And it’s festive baking that I and a fellow would-be-baker are here to attempt today. I’m taking on the challenge of making a yule log, while 12-year old Sky-Brooke tackles gingerbread. Katharine moves skilfully between our two stations – which would look perfectly at home in the Bake Off tent – guiding us through her clear, easy-to-follow instructions and making the whole process simple and hugely enjoyable.
Once we’ve mixed our ingredients and placed them in the ovens the room fills with an amazing smell: the sweetness of my chocolate sponge combining with Sky-Brooke’s spicy dough. We can’t wait to taste what we’ve made.
While everything bakes, Katharine tells us about her culinary journey. She trained at the Tante Marie School of Cookery and, after graduating with distinction, was invited to teach and demonstrate there, which she did until 2002. She then raised her three children, while running her own catering company, before founding the Cookery School in 2008. Quince House itself has a fascinating history, once being home to the progressive Olivier sisters, and entertaining guests such as HG Wells, Rupert Brooke and DH Lawrence.
Our final products are impressive: they look professionally made and taste delicious. We are given the recipes to take home and, with Katharine’s calm guidance still fresh in my mind, I am now confident about adding the yule log to my Christmas repertoire!
Find Quince House at: www.quincehousecookery.co.uk