So this clearly isn’t a restaurant review, but instead a post about one of the cooking classes I recently attended at Toronto’s awesome St. Lawrence Market (seen in all it’s glory below).

The view from the Miele Market Kitchen where class takes place.

The Pies and Tarts class was one of the Saturday classes from 12:00-3:00pm, so what better activity than to browse through the treasures of the market before class starts. If you haven’t been, the market is two big floors jam-packed with more or less every food product you can think of. Since nearly every store has a specialty, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for.

I had one of the famous breakfast-in-a-bun peameal sandwiches (above) from Carousel Bakery and very much enjoyed its thinly sliced bacon and warm fried egg contents while perusing the shops. 

Following breakfast, it was time to head up to the Market Kitchen. Our class was roughly 15 people, mostly in twos and mostly female. That said, being one of the few guys in the class gave me a useful handicap throughout the baking activities. Speaking of the ‘activities’, the goal of the class was to walk you through four different pies/tarts, each helping you learn the basics of different techniques. The dishes are below.

Classes are lead by a few experienced chefs who both demonstrate and guide you through things start-to-finish. We were lead by three, and split it up into three groups who cycled through each of the tourtiere, mixed nut tart and galette stations. Before it all got going, there was a quick puff pastry demo. Was nice to know most people (and restaurants) don’t make their puff from scratch. A lot of these ‘Did You Knows?’ are spread throughout the session. Here’s a slice of the pissaladiere with olive, anchovies, gruyere and caramelized onions.

I won’t go through every detail of making the others, but I can say it certainly was educational. As a complete noob when it comes to baking, I felt pretty comfortable and I thought the instruction in the hands-on segments was very helpful. 

I think the best tasting I ate during the session was the apple-blackberry galette. A really nice flavour combination that had a little lemon zest in their as well to really brighten everything with the flaky pastry. Here’s a large one being cut below:

Perhaps the best looking was the mixed-nut tart. Essentially its a pecan pie with hazelnuts and walnuts. In my opinion, it’s got a little more depth and crunch than your average pecan pie and not as much sugary, caramel-like filling. Had a lot of fun making it as well. A pic below:

We also made and took home tourtiere’s to bake for ourselves that turned out to be one of the better ones I’ve ever eaten. 

All in all, it’s a great class for $50/person. There’s plenty of food, the instruction is clear, and you get to meet some new people which is always nice in settings like this. Would definitely recommend it. I’ll be heading to the Cooking with Game Meats session next. For the full list of upcoming events, check them out here.

Posted by: Jacob, Visited Jan 14th, 2012