The heady surroundings of Slattery’s Whitefield bakery in Manchester and the prospect of tuition by popular Unifine Chef Patissier, Graham Dunton attracted nearly 30 full and part-time professionals to a one-day baking course recently.

Designed to show working bakers how top quality lines can be made in minutes – and with very little skill or training – questions abounded as delegates watched the morning’s empty prep’ table fill to the brim with cakes, slices, French Macaroons and even Square Fruit Tarts with Crème Brulee.

‘Never stint on the quality of your ingredients,’ Graham emphasised. ‘Using cheaper basics to keep costs down is a false economy. Start with the best and you’ll get a reputation for selling the best. And that’s what brings the return sales.’

The day began with a focus on sheet-lines which are ready-to-use chocolate and plain Genoese sponge sheets that can be used for bar, cake and sweet sandwich dishes.

The value of compounds was also expounded by Graham as he made up a variety of fonds for Chocolate Bombes, Lemon Tortes and a Lemon Meringue special.

Cream Horns and puff Turnover Shells became the next focus as guests watched him filling and decorating them with cream and jam respectively.

‘Ready-to-use, crisp and tasty, and with a long shelf life before opening – both Horns and Turnovers can be completed in seconds,’ said Graham. ‘Mark-up on these two can be very healthy, depending on your filling – and when empty, the cost per unit is definitely on the side of the baker.’

Unifine’s Decorgel Glamour provided the highlight of the day. Part of the company’s Glamour Range of gold and silver ingredients, the Gel is clear, ready-to-use, and can be tinted to match any mood or occasion.

Regardless of colour, the silver components in Decorgel Glamour shine through the surface of whatever you are making. Samples of the individual Chocolate Bombes and a pink Strawberry version were shown to the guests as a centrepiece dish.

At lunchtime, a delicious meal was provided by John Slattery. Even more exciting was the opportunity to explore the Food Hall and Wedding Parlour set up by John as part of his expanding family business.

Slattery’s sales showroom is bursting with sugar and chocolate novelties. It sits directly below an Edwardian-style restaurant on the first floor. The bakery school, above, runs right along the top of the building.

‘And, I haven’t finished yet,’ said John, who popped his head round and answered guest’s questions from time to time. ‘I plan to make more of the facilities I have here, and my old building across the road.’

The day’s proceedings closed as guests were given the chance to taste and see the finished dishes close up. Lines of brightly coloured Macaroons, Chocolate and Strawberry Bombes were packed away in take-home boxes.

The verdict? ‘We’ve already added a raspberry version of the Square Creme Brulee to our cream counter and it’s selling well,’ said Heather Wienholt of G Wienholt. ‘A super day. Very worthwhile!’


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