A Baking Demonstration in Willunga
Each baking class I teach includes an element of “live” demonstration, however this was my first experience teaching in front of a large crowd of spectators – and a great experience it was!
I happened to be sitting near the event organiser at a photography workshop a week or two earlier and, having traded business cards, i soon after received an offer to be involved as a time-slot became available. So, with no prior experience doing a live cooking demonstration, and having a fully-booked sourdough bread intro class in the morning of the event, along with no plan for what i would show, i excitedly accepted the opportunity for a half-hour spot across both Saturday and Sunday of the festival.
The question then became… what do i demo?
Something with almonds seemed fitting, so that gave me a place to start. It was then vital to find a product that cooked easily within 30 minutes, could be served effortlessly for tasting and, in adhering to my baking philosophy, was a home-replicable recipe. It also needed to be cooked on a stove-top (there was no oven), which was fine since there wasn’t time a lot of time. Most importantly, it had to taste delicious.
after much brainstorming and consultation, it was decided “bienenstich toffee” was the recipe of choice. It ticked the boxes: delicious and lots of almonds; a simple recipe easy to replicate at home; and one which could be effortlessly served to the hungry crowds. Although the baking process required an oven, this stage could be prepared ahead of time.
So, the weekend came, and only a couple of hours after the conclusion of the earlier sourdough class, we packed up the couple of crates of ingredients, baking tools, serving equipment, cleaning products and anything else that seemed within a remote possibility of being required. Then off we drove to the beautiful town of Willunga, in the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia.
The earlier class made for a very full day! However, it provided the bonus of lots of delicious slices of fresh-baked, handmade sourdough bread, which seemed much appreciated by the hungry crowds and foodies present.
Saturday started well, with a crowd gathering as we set-up. Recipe cards and brochures were laid out, ingredients placed in order, and tastings carefully set aside until after the demonstration. It was now ‘lights, camera and action’ for my little baking lesson. With a head-piece microphone and a speaker, and about 20-30+ people surrounding the kitchen space, and more coming and going throughout, it was 20 minutes of cooking demonstration fun.
At the conclusion, tastings were eagerly devoured, questions asked, and multiple additional mini-demos and explanations offered to the new passers-by. From all reports it was well received.
The Sunday was a new experience, as unlike Saturday, there was no crowd gathered and it was a smaller festival day too. Starting time came with a total of zero people gathered to watch. So, unlike the previous day when tastings were reserved until the end, as a strategy to maintain the crowd, we offered tastings at the beginning to draw the crowd… and it worked. Soon, a smaller, but eager group had gathered ready to learn, and the cooking commenced. Two contrasting days; two insightful and valuable experiences.
Will i do it again? Yes, it was a valuable experience and lots of fun (and i received an invitation to attend in 2019!). Do i know what i will make? No, so any ideas to fit the above criteria are welcome.
And if you are there, please say hello and let me know you read this blog. It would be great to meet you!