Vaughan's Cookery School

By Theresa Hopwood

Wiltshire hotels, B&Bs and food and drink establishments are renowned for their friendly and accommodating welcome, so the response was good when we recently offered a Gluten Free cookery course, in conjunction with Vaughan’s Cookery School in Devizes.

I have attended a number of the courses at Vaughan’s now, including Middle Eastern cookery, Japanese cookery (see my previous blog), basic and advanced bread making and patisserie, and have come away from all with some great recipes and new skills. The mix of people attending, and the lovely lunch or supper that is always served at the end, make a lovely way to spend an evening, or day.

It was therefore with confidence that I was happy to work with Judy from the School to put together this bespoke course for our partners. So, on a lovely sunny Thursday morning ten of us descended on the School and were welcomed by Judy and Jane with a cup of coffee and homemade chocolate brownies (gluten free of course)!

Judy spent the first ten minutes or so explaining about gluten free diets and how many people request the products now, not because they are necessarily, completely intolerant to them, but because they find they have less adverse effects than wheat based products. In this introduction and throughout the morning she gave us lots of tips for adapting recipes, and looking out for hidden gluten, as well as telling us about the products we would be using. Xanthum gum was a new one to me, but apparently helps with the texture of breads made with gluten free flour.

Our first recipe was for focaccia style bread, which Judy told us would also make a good pizza base, or could be formed into a white loaf which could then be sliced and frozen. My main observation was that it was far easier to make than normal bread as there is no gluten to release, the main reason we normally knead bread for so long! We formed the dough into a focaccia shape and discussed the different toppings we could put on it, or even in it. 
Whilst the dough was rising we moved on to make Lemon Drizzle cake with a surprise ingredient… mashed potato! This started another discussion which showed how inventive and adventurous our businesses are with everything from butternut squash to beetroot having been added to their cake recipes.

Shortbread was next; gluten free flour apparently makes lovely short shortbread although as I found later this does make it tricky to cut neatly! Tastes wonderful though!

Scones were next on our baking menu, the tip there being to add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk, something that applies to all scone recipes apparently.

Finally we moved to the cookers to make brandy snaps, something I had never tried before but which were remarkably easy, and certainly something I will do again.

We were then invited to sit down for a delicious lunch of salads and Wiltshire ham, with wine available if you wanted it. Desserts were brownies and chocolates made by Judy and Jane.
On returning to our work stations we found everything we had made waiting for us, together with a tray of brownies and a goody bag which included all the recipes and a gluten free “starter kit” to take home. We were all really pleased with how it had turned out, both in looks and taste.

Some of the things I made

Knowing my neighbour is gluten free I made a mini hamper of my bakes and took round for her, she was delighted with them and asked for several of the recipes!

Once again I thoroughly enjoyed my Vaughan’s Cookery School experience and would recommend both beginners and experienced cooks to have a look at their course programme, and give it a try. If you are visiting Wiltshire soon you may be lucky enough to stay in, or visit one of the businesses that attended the course and get to sample some of the recipes for yourself.


Vaughan's Cookery School
Cookery School
Peter Demonstrating at Vaughan's Cookery School

Vaughan’s Cookery School offers a comprehensive range of public, professional, bespoke, corporate and children’s courses, along with culinary hen parties and group sessions for a party with a difference or a fun evening with friends. Participants receive a very ‘hands-on’ and fun experience in small groups, producing healthy and nutritious meals. Vaughan’s Cookery School feel passionate about creating a ‘naturally balanced’ style of cuisine that maximises nutrition.



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