Funnily enough, I have passed many times (on the way to my sewing machine shop) the building in which Peggy's studios are situated and to be honest, lamented that yet another gorgeous Victorian school building has been converted into residential/business use. However, when I heard Peggy's studio was there, I was intrigued to have a nosey! It's a big complex and the building below is the one opposite to where Peggy's studio is situated.
And here is where Peggy's wonderful cakes and cookies are created...
It is a lovely bright, white, modern space inside, where Peggy's "Easter Treats Masterclass" shall take place. Peggy's courses are always booked up as soon as they appear on her website so I was so thrilled to get a place, I had been trying for some time.
We are group of 8 which is a good size and allows us all plenty of attention and the ability to see exactly what is going on as Peggy demonstrates. A couple of the ladies had come specially from Switzerland for the course. More excitingly, who did I happen to be sitting next to but Jane Brocket of "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" fame, whose new book on quilts I had only bought the day before. It's a small world!
I loved the floral photos Peggy had stuck up. When I asked her, she said they are for inspiration for making sugarpaste flowers - as well as being very pretty, of course. Peggy was marvellous, very personable and with perfect English (she is German), she was hands on every minute of the course.
Some of Peggy's creations flanked the doors...
This one is actually a fake cake! It was made for display at somebody's wedding and is waiting to be collected. The mind boggles at how many hours that must have taken.
There is a little corner set up with goodies to buy including Peggy's fab books. I am ogling the pink Kitchenaid mixer!
Time to get to work. As you may know if you have been reading my blog before, I have done a couple of one-day cake courses before and I have had to provide all my own equipment and cakes for those. The joy of Saturday's course is that all we needed was an apron and the rest was provided.
We begin by making piping bags from greaseproof paper. As would be the case throughout the day, Peggy made it look so easy and I pretty much felt like a 3 year old on the Krypton Factor trying to get the hang of it! We then mix some icing to the required consistency and have a go at piping. Eeek! This is MUCH harder than it looks!
However, we progress to colouring some icing and pipe outlines on the cookies. We then proceed to "flood" the centres (ie. fill them in) with icing of the same colour in a runnier consistency. The icing is provided for us in squeezy bottles which was a pleasure, mixing the icing to the right consistency is an art in itself. Peggy shares with us the secret to the lovely dotty effect you see on the bunny.
Once the biscuits have dried, Peggy shows us how to ice details on to the cookies. Ha, things just got trickier! She has a fantastically steady hands and her cookies look amazing!
Time to move on from the cookies to make daisy cupcakes. We knead some flower paste and set to cutting out the daisy shapes with a plunger cutter, which not only cuts out the shape but leaves a pattern on the flower petals, too.
We also make the centres and pop the flowers into an artist's palette to allow them to dry (I had a dodgy palette and my flowers were squashed!)
Time now to learn about fondant icing, you know the sort, the lovely, shiny, colourful stuff on Fondant Fancies. Gorgeously spring-coloured fondant icing is warmed up for us to use and Peggy demonstrates the technique of double-dipping the cupcakes.
Errrm, this is not so easy to get the tops all smooth!
All too soon, it is 4 pm and the day comes to a close. What a throroughly enjoyable (rather demanding!) day. Peggy happily signs my book. The cookies you can see in front of Peggy are the ones she iced (so tempting to suggest they are mine!)
Luckily, I am on a direct rail line to Clapham Junction so I am home (in torrential rain) within the hour and find to my delight that Mr HenHouse has been at it in the kitchen, too! This cheese and cider bread is baked by Leakers Bakery in Bridport and is famed - they are always sold out early on Saturday morning. The recipe recently appeared in one of the local freebie magazines we pick up when at the cottage, which Mr HenHouse kept a hold of. Now I have my very own baker!
And what did I bring home?
Daisy dot cupcakes...
Sadly, they moved around in the box on the way home and stuck to each other so they look a little the worse for wear.
The do taste yummy though!
And the cookies...
These were fun to do and the gingerbread ones taste delicious (have yet to taste the vanilla ones).
All in all, it was a wonderful day and if you are interested in this sort of thing, I would definitely recommend a course with Peggy.
(Yes, the Easter decorations are out in force in the HenHouse.)