John Whaite kitchen's festive showstopper

The best Christmas cookery courses for 2016

Festive feasts are all about tradition but even traditions have to start somewhere. Read on for our pick of the best Christmas cookery courses for 2016 and start cementing yours

Bourne and Hollingsworth: Christmas baking

Ditch the shop-bought mince pies and learn how to make your own sweet stocking fillers with the guidance of Michelin starred chef, Adam Gray. Set in the beautiful Bourne and Hollingsworth kitchen (where garlands of leafy ferns cascade from exposed wooden rafters) this baking course will leave you feeling confident enough to tackle all those classic Christmas treats.


Christmas baking with Adam Gray: 23 November 6:30-9pm, £65 per person
Clerkenwell | London

John Whaite’s Kitchen: Festive showstoppers

(c) Alex Holt

At the John Whaite’s Kitchen cookery school you can join 2012 Great British Bake Off winner and Cordon Bleu graduate, John Whaite, for a range of Christmas-themed courses, from festive breads to afternoon teas (the school is also hosting a course led by GBBO star Martha Collinson designed around putting a Christmas spin on classic bakes and creating edible gifts).

One of the most popular courses, however, is set to be this workshop on making the ultimate festive cake. Whaite, a law graduate turned professional baker, certainly knows a thing or two about showstopping bakes so you will be in good hands as you spend the day baking – and will leave with some serious skills.

Festive showstoppers with John Whaite: 10 & 17 December 10am-5pm, £180 per person
Wrightington | Lancashire

The Bertinet Kitchen cookery school: North Italian Christmas

Fancy a change from turkey and the usual trimmings this year? Led by celebrity chef, Valentia Harris, The Bertinet Kitchen’s North Italian Christmas course will give you all the skills to put together an Italian-style Christmas feast instead. Of course that means pasta, and lots of it.

From tortellini della vigilia (classic Christmas tortellini) and Ravioloni di Natale (ravioloni with turkey and chestnuts in a creamy sauce) to a decadent semifreddo with nougat dessert, on this one-day course you’ll be fully immersed in the soul-warming flavours of the country’s northern reaches.

North Italian Christmas with Valentina Harris: 26 November 10am-4pm, £165 per person
Bath | Somerset

The School of Artisan Food: Christmas canapés and cocktails

Get the Christmas party started with help from The School of Artisan Food’s canapé and cocktail cookery course. The cookery school is a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in giving instruction on artisan food production skills (often to students on a year-long course).

This short (one-day) course, however, is aimed at the general public. Tap into the school’s network of experts – and its supplies of seasonal ingredients (think stem ginger, oranges and warming spices) – and you will leave knowing how to create some seriously impressive yuletide nibbles.

Christmas canapés and cocktails: 13 December 9am-5pm, £185 per person
Welbeck | Nottinghamshire

Macarons and more cookery school: Christmas macaroon special

Here at olive towers we take our macarons pretty seriously for most of the year, insisting these dainty (and notoriously tricky) confections come with just the right amount of crisp (outside) and chew (inside). And while this course certainly doesn’t skimp on the basics the focus is rather less stuffy: showing participants how to make red-nosed chocolate reindeer, and boozy sloe gin and snowmen, macarons.

Classes are kept small at this specialist school and, on this day-long course you’ll be taught how to decorate sweet baked treats as well as piping perfect macarons. They say: the perfect way to up your patisserie game. We say: perfect secret Santa gift idea.

Christmas macaroon special: 16 December 9:30am-2:30pm, £140 per person
Norwich | Norfolk

Vale House Kitchen: edible gifts

The best gifts are those that have had a lot of thought and effort put into them. Ensure your friends and family feel that same way on Christmas day by signing up to Vale House Kitchen’s edible gift course.

Based in a beautiful stone outhouse in heart of rural Somerset, you’ll learn how to infuse and bottle your own citrus liqueurs, bake frangipane mince pies from scratch and pot your own homemade date chutneys. Christmas in a jar might not have been a thing before – but it is now.

Edible gift day: 12th November 2016 10am-5pm, £135 per person
Timsbury | Bath

Lighthouse bakery and school: festive baking

There’s, arguably, no such thing as a standard Christmas cake. Countries across the world make theirs in myriad ways: from stollen in Germany to pompe a l’huile in Provence and joululimppa in Finland, the variants are endless. But with the help of Lighthouse bakery and school you can learn how to make them all.

Run from a converted barn overlooking Bodiam castle by ex-Northcote Road baking sensations, Rachel Duffield and Elizabeth Weisberg, this festive baking course will add a truly international feel to your festivities.

Festive baking, Christmas edition: Saturday 10th December 2016, £175 per person
Robertsbridge | East Sussex

The Manor House Stables: Christmas jams & preserves

As well as covering all the basics, this festive jams course will have you making some more unexpected preserves, from home-made mincemeat to mulled wine jelly, and carrot, orange and cardamom jam.

Set in the bucolic Lincolnshire countryside, the Manor House Stables stresses the value of using local and homegrown produce and ingredients on this course are no exception. Most are organic – or, at the very least, natural. And if you want to make a long weekend of it, there’s the option of booking in overnight at a choice of self-catering cottages on site.

Christmas jams & preserves: Monday 29th November 9:30am-5pm, £75 per person
Martin | Lincolnshire

Bread Ahead: Gluten free Christmas baking and more

This winter, the bakery behind THOSE donuts in Borough Market are hosting a selection of festive bakery courses at their school just around the corner. Sign up to one of their workshops and learn how to make snow-topped gingerbread houses from scratch, kneed authentic German stollen, or even try your hand at baking gluten-free Italian panettone.

The length and prices of the classes vary but the gluten-free baking course (an unusual option, or so we’ve found) will have you working in the bakery all day with a break for lunch in between.

Gluten Free Christmas baking: Saturday 10th December 10am-4:30pm, £160 per person
Borough | London


Header image credit: (c) Alex Holt, John Whaite’s Kitchen