When the opportunity became available to have a go at making and filling my own doughnuts, I jumped at the chance. As a keen baker I have tried baking many things over the years but doughnuts have always been an elusive mystery to me… until I joined a workshop led by Susie Whitfield, founder of The Cotswolds Baking Workshop in Shipston on Stour.
After a beautiful drive through the Cotswolds I arrived at Susie’s house and was led through to the kitchen where my station was laid out with everything I would need to become a doughnut expert. Susie exudes a warmth which makes you feel instantly relaxed and she built my confidence through every step of the class.
The first step involved forming some doughnut shapes using some pre prepared dough which had already had its first rise. Susie was helpful throughout and gave some really important snippets of advice during our conversation, something that is often missing when you do larger workshops with lots of participants. I learnt how to roll the dough into the perfect doughnut shape and Susie showed me how to put the hole in them so I could make some ring doughnuts. These were then left for their second rise whilst I had a go at making my own dough from scratch.
This was a great part of the workshop with tips galore from Susie about how to create the perfect dough, even down to the best yeast to use to create the smooth, elastic and springy texture needed for the perfect rise. I had the opportunity to start the yeast working, mix all my ingredients together and then knead my dough until it could be stretched so that I could see through it. Once I had finished my dough it was popped into a bag and put in the fridge so that I could take it home once the session had finished.
Next we moved onto the fillings and glaze for the doughnuts we would be later frying. With Susie’s assistance and her homemade creme patisserie I made my first ever creme diplomat which I was then able to flavour. Susie provided a great selection of Christmas flavours and advised which worked well together. I decided to add mincemeat, orange zest and cointreau to mine and it was incredible. She also talked me through making my own vanilla glaze for the rings, something I had also never done before.
By this point my formed doughnuts had completed their second rise and were ready for the fryer. Despite being an avid foodie, I had never used a deep fat fryer before and felt rather daunted by the prospect but an informative demo was provided.
I loved watching the dough slowly bubbling on its underside until it was flipped showing the gorgeous brown it had turned. The best part, getting to try a fresh doughnut straight out of the fryer that had been tossed in sugar! That freshly fried doughnut was a thing of beauty and the best I have ever eaten.
Then it was my turn, Susie timed my doughnuts and helped me when they refused to leave the parchment paper. I tossed some in sugar ready to fill later and plopped some in my glaze mix to make vanilla glazed rings. Susie showed me how to fill the doughnuts ‘Borough Market style’ and then I had a go myself. I have to say, I was pretty proud of what I managed to create and that feeling of pride is the sign of a fantastic workshop.
My experience at The Cotswolds Baking Workshop with Susie was fantastic and I would recommend booking into a class at a heartbeat. Perfect 1:1 or with a group of friends, it was a brilliant evening.
You can find information about classes and book vouchers at Susie’s website www.cotswoldsbaking.com. There are lots of amazing classes coming up in January which can be booked via the website, see the list below and take your pick. I’m confident you will love participating in any of them!
Sun, 2 Jan Marvellous Macarons 2-4pm £50
Wed 5 Jan, Pastel de Natas 6:30-8:30pm £50
Sat 8 Jan, Afternoon Tea Treats 2-5pm, £75
Sun 9 Jan, Vegan Treats 2-4pm £50
Sun 16 Jan, Marvellous Macarons 2-4pm £50
Sun 23 Jan, Delectable Doughnuts 2-4pm £50
Sat 29 Jan, Pastel de Natas 2-4pm £50
Sun 30 Jan, Vegan Treats 2-4pm £50