The Limpsfield Cookery School

I am probably the only person in the UK who hasn’t attempted making sourdough in 2020, so when I’m given the opportunity to learn what it is all about I’m keen to see what I’ve been missing.

The five of us on the bread-making course at The Limpsfield Cookery School are warmly welcomed by owner and founder Jacqueline Derbyshire, and Master Chef Andy Tyrrell, who explains what we’ll be doing. It’s a full schedule: we’re going to be taking on sourdough country loaf, rye bread and ciabatta rolls, swapping between recipes to ensure they all have time to prove and bake.

Once the Head Chef at River Cottage in Dorset, Andy now co-runs a pop-up restaurant in Lyme Regis. He also teaches bread and pastry making at Riverford in Devon, and runs courses at cooking schools and events across the country. His passion for baking is evident and our day is instructive, hands-on and highly satisfying.

As well as the bread, we also create our own lunch: delicious sourdough pizza with fresh salad, and the chance to relax and chat with the other participants. Afterwards, we finish off our doughs before they go, one by one, into the oven.

As a sourdough newbie I’m not expecting miracles but I’m elated when my three bakes are ready as they look and smell amazing. Andy lets us sample a slice of the loaves he made alongside us and we agree warm, freshly-baked bread, slathered in creamy butter, is one of life’s ultimate pleasures. We are sent home with everything we’ve made, plus a sourdough starter, so we can make more in the days to follow. Which is fortunate as shortly after my day at Limpsfield the November lockdown is announced so I’ll have plenty of time to practice my new skills.

The Limpsfield Cookery School has a warm, calming ambience, but its first year has been difficult. It opened in February but was then forced to close in March due to the initial outbreak of the pandemic. With classes put on hold Jacqueline began selling home-made ready-meals and desserts until she was able to open again in August.

Once the second lockdown is lifted, the School will return to offering a wide range of courses, all run by professional cooks. Baking, chocolate, patisseries, sugar craft and cake decoration will appeal to the sweet-toothed, or if you prefer something savoury you can expand your knowledge of international cuisines with curry and pasta masterclasses. Renowned chef and author Jenny Chandler also demonstrates how to create tasty vegetarian and vegan meals.

If you fancy learning new skills for the festive season then Christmas Baking, Edible Italian Christmas Gifts, Vegetarian Christmas, Yule Log, and Festive Feast classes are all on offer before the big day. Children are well catered for too, with courses and parties year-round, and fun Christmas-themed sessions running in December.
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