If I was only able to use one word to describe The School of Artisan Food that word would be special. Before you even go through the gates as you drive through some of the UK's prettiest countryside the feeling of excitement and privilege builds, then you're into the estate and it's like you've entered another world. It really is a feeling of privilege and luck, like I have access to a secret domain that encapsulates all of the things I love that I feel when I head here and that is rightly so - where else can you learn techniques and skills from some of the most brilliant food artisans in historic surroundings as gorgeous as these?

On my second visit to the school these feeling hadn't dissipated and it was with practically a spring in my step that I walked up the steps of the school to the main dining room where my class was meeting. Of course you need to fuel up for a full day of learning on your feet and so the spread that greeted us was most welcome and of course all made at the school - I grabbed a coffee and a lovely fruit bun topped with apple before sitting down and chatting to some of my fellow students. The relaxed atmosphere is one of the nicest things here, even in the classroom you go at a pace that isn't rushed, you're free to ask any questions you wish and the teachers frequently visit your station to see how you're getting on.  

The class I attended on this occasion was all about the afternoon tea and the day was spent making five delightful treats that would plate up as a perfect sweet selection for that most British of eating events. On the menu were macarons, friands, tuille pastries filled with flavoured cream, possett and of course scones - all with a twist and using all natural ingredients of the best quality. We were fortunate enough to be being taught by Graham and Rose Dunton, two professionals who have been working in patisserie for over 30 years in some of the most predigious establishments such as The Dorchester and The Connaught and The Hyatt Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge. To say that I felt honoured to be learning from Rose and Graham was an understatement and they were wonderful teachers peppering the recipes with ideas for other ways to use the elements, alternative flavour combinations and professional tips and techniques that you'd only dream of hearing outside of these walls.

The morning began with macaron shell making which is something I'm familiar with but is definitely a big draw for a lot of people since they have been one of the trendiest - and difficult to perfect  - delicacies on the scene for a few years now. We then moved on to baking our friands and Graham even showed us how to make the jam that he has used for years, a different take that is much quicker to make and leaves you with a beautiful zippy fruity blend that would probably make a piece of polystyrene taste great!

Time flew by and before I knew it we were at lunchtime so we wandered back into the dining room where two lovely ladies had spent the morning cooking us up a feast of quiches, tarts, roasted potatoes and a myriad of salads. I must say that the wild garlic quiche was just gorgeous and I'm actually planning on recreating it this weekend along with the refreshing fennel and cucumber salad.

After a chilled out meal and a chance to rest our feet for a while we were back at it in the kitchen whipping cream, spreading out langue du chat paste and (briefly) kneading our scones before we were on to topping, filling and gussying up our completed treats. As happens in any kitchen we had a couple of hiccups along the way with some naughty macaron shells that cracked and rolling up cigarette pastries that were a tad too short to join around the moulds, but honestly a kitchen is a place full of the opportunity for mistakes. With that many students creating such a spread of different patisserie I'm frankly amazed that's all that went awry and Graham and Rose did a brilliant job of explaining what my have gone wrong and ways to rectify it which is far preferable to your trying on your own at home and having no clue what went amiss!

By the end of the day everyone had brains full of tips and inspiration and cars full of delicacies to take home - I could barely fit it all in my fridge when I got home. There was no doubt that everyone had had a thoroughly enjoyable day and I left with renewed invigoration for baking and a mind whirring with different ways I could flavour and switch up what we had made during the day. 

I absolutely will be returning to the school to do more courses in the future and if you are a food and cookery fan I know that you would just adore a day or two of learning just like me. It's not just baking that you can learn here either, the range of courses cover butchery, cheesemaking, preserving, brewing, chocolate making, food photography and more so you are sure to find a subject that tickles your fancy. Personally I'd love to do the Classic Culinary Skills course with Justine Kanter and I'm keeping my eyes on the Fermentation Masterclass with Sandor Katz!

It's safe to say that I fall more in love with this place on each visit and I can't wait to come back to explore the rest of what the Welbeck Estate has to offer like the farm shop, microbrewery and the gallery. It's safe to say that if I ever ended up working here at some point in my life I would be a very happy woman - it's nice to have goals eh?

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*This post contains items that were gifted for review. For more information head to my disclaimer page.