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Baking class in downtown TO

p
pomelo Nov 23, 2008 11:35 AM

My friend and I are looking for a good baking class in downtown. I looked into the courses offered by George Brown, but they are on the expensive side (525 for an introductory prerequisite class that doesn't even cover baking is a bit much for students).

I do want to learn some good techniques though, so I don't want to go to a one time thing where all you do is follow the recipe. Any ideas?

  1. f
    food_whiz Aug 11, 2009 04:44 PM

    I took a class at Calphalon and had a great time. You have your own work station, you make tons of food with fresh ingredients and then you sit and enjoy it with a glass of wine. I took the Spanish cooking class. I highly recommend Calphalon, great Friday night event.

    1. e
      eatereater123 Jan 7, 2009 11:50 AM

      I am also interested in the classes if anyone has suggestions in addition to Bonnie, George, Calphalon and Liaison in Hamilton.

      There are classes offered at Central Tech by the School Board, but my friend's first hand experienced was a horror show. Anything reasonable and yet advanced? My goal for 2009 is to achieve macaron perfection.

      5 Replies
      1. re: eatereater123
        k
        Kissa Aug 11, 2009 01:48 PM

        I was thinking of taking the Wedding Cake and Pastries course at Central Tech in September. What's was your friends horrific experience?

        1. re: Kissa
          f
          FrenchSoda Aug 11, 2009 02:19 PM

          Hi,

          I also took that course and it was just awful. One week on actually making a wedding cake and then the rest on random other things - including hot cross buns and pizza! I can't recall a wedding that I've ever been to that served hot cross buns or pizza instead of cake.

          The recipes were written by someone with a very poor command of typing and English spelling. I truly don't intend to be insulting, it's the simple fact. If I'd handed the recipe to friends who aren't bakers, there's no way they would have interpreted it.

          The kitchen was filthy. At one point the soldered ring of the Kitchen aid mixer fell off into the icing my partner and I were mixing, dropping several tablespoons of mould and rust into the icing. The teacher mixed it right in and kept on going, then iced cakes with it. You can imagine I did not eat anything there.

          Icing was made with Crisco (Apparently butter is too expensive so real bakers don't use it anymore...). Cookies were made by mixing chocolate chips into tart shell dough. The instructor was unaware that gelatin is often non-vegetarian. He told us that the glaze for tarts cannot be cooked at home and must be purchased through him only (he had a commercial sized vat of it that he bought through a grocery store bakery).

          He then attempted to sell us his book and video at the end of the course.

          Obviously I feel very strongly about this course!! I cannot discommend it strongly enough. I wrote to the Con Ed organization about it but received no answer.

          On the bright side, one of the students there had taken the Indian cooking Con Ed course and loved it. Though it was in the kitchen next door, so if ours was filthy I can't imagine the next door kitchen was much cleaner.

          1. re: FrenchSoda
            k
            Kissa Aug 12, 2009 06:50 AM

            Thanks for the reply FS.
            I am totally disappointment. I wanted to take this course back in July but it was full. One day on my way home, I stopped by Bulk Barn to pick up a few ingredients for cookies and saw an add for a Wilton Cake Decorating Course for only $35 for four classes that were 2 hours long. The class was held every Wednesday in the back room of the store. The class was fun but I felt that I wanted to learn so much more.
            This September I noticed that Central Tech offers the Wedding Cake course on 3 different days. I was under the impression that the course was popular. The course name is totally deceiving. The course description talks about chocolate sweets, roses out of royal icing, gum paste and roll fondant. And you made pizza?
            Cedarbrae also offers the course but it is cheaper and only 1.5 hrs long for 10 wks. I wonder if they all have the same course outline.

            This sucks. I guess the search continues.......Thanks again!

            1. re: Kissa
              f
              FrenchSoda Aug 12, 2009 08:53 AM

              It is very popular, you're right. It seems to sell out every time. It actually took me two tries before I managed to get a spot in one. And since the courses are only Summer/Winter, it was a year's wait! I was soo disappointed. He did do some of the gum paste flowers etc., but very little.

              If you are looking for more cake decorating and are willing to drive, I took a course at Golda's Kitchen, who also does the Wilton method, with tons of class options. She was such a great teacher.

              It's a bit far though, at Winston Churchill & the 401ish area.

              http://www.goldaskitchen.com/about6.i...

        2. re: eatereater123
          hippotatomus Aug 11, 2009 03:26 PM

          ME TOO macaron perfection p*O*q! Let me know if you find some class that teaches you how.. almond flour is a bit pricey for too much failed experimenting .. =(

        3. gnuf Nov 26, 2008 07:21 AM

          FWIW, I did ten of the Bakery Arts classes at George Brown (pre-renovation). They changed the intro baking course from a 10-week into a 12-week one, so it's even more expensive than before. I agree with the other poster who said that it's geared towards industry. Shortcuts like using shortening instead of butter, edible whipped topping instead of cream, rum extract instead of real booze, etc. are the norm, and are done to keep costs down, but the teachers offer home alternatives if you ask.

          I found the instructors (with a few exceptions) to be of very high calibre, keeping the class disciplined and orderly. You will definitely learn a lot of technique and take home more baking than you could possibly eat. I have full writeups of all the courses I took (look for the Bakery Arts at GBC links on the left sidebar) at the following link:

          http://gnuf.blogsite.org

          Ivonne kept a blog about baking at George Brown as well:

          http://creampuffsinvenice.ca/category/baking-class/

          As for other baking classes, Bonnie Stern's cooking school hosts guest bakers once in a while. Her newsletter (http://foodnews.bonniestern.com/) says that Nick Malgieri is coming to teach a class on 2009-01-26 or 2009-01-27. However, at $150 for a 3-hr demo-only class, it's probably not what you're looking for.

          -----
          Bonnie Stern
          6 Erskine Ave, Toronto, ON M4P, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: gnuf
            a
            abchick Nov 26, 2008 09:47 AM

            Last year I did one a Liaison College, I think is was $100 per person. It was great though, it was very interactive, lots of fun. The chef was great! I still remember the recipes and i can actually do them... I remember them offering a group rate if we were 10 people. it was only 6 of us.

          2. l
            likescrab Nov 24, 2008 06:40 AM

            Try the Calphalon culinary school at King and Bathurst or Dish cooking studo at Spadina and Dupont. There's always Bonnier Stern, north Toronto.

            1. t
              tochipotle Nov 24, 2008 06:16 AM

              I took a baking course at GB - and I think you're right - I would advise against it, unless you're looking to get into the industry. The course was geared towards the industry - using sub-par ingredients at times (artificial vanilla for example). Also, the $525 is just for the course - once you get there, they give you a list of things you 'need' to buy - which easily adds up to $200 if you actually buy everything on the list. (Makes sense if you're going to become a pastry chef and you'll need these utensils in your career... I bought a couple of things that I used once for the course and now they sit waaay back in the cupboard never touched since.)
              That said, instruction was good - but definitely not geared towards the home baker.... (In GB's defence, they really don't suggest the course is for the home baker either.)

              Sorry, I don't have a better suggestion for you - just wanted to let you know a little more about my experience of GB.

              1. pescatarian Nov 23, 2008 07:34 PM

                Hi Pomelo, the GB classes can be a bit expensive, but they are quite extensive and definitely cover hands on baking.

                1. JamieK Nov 23, 2008 01:26 PM

                  INot exactly downtown and the focus is on cakes and decorating so it may not be what you're looking for but there's a school near Bathurst and Eglinton called the Bonnie Gordon School of Cake Design. They do have a series of classes calle the Art of Baking -
                  http://bonniegordoncakes.com/pages/cl...

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