Baking with friends and family is one of the joys in life, says American cook, Susie Whitfield. Now she’s created The Cotswolds Baking Workshop to help more people do just that.
Whilst Susie can’t teach classes face-to-face, she has taken her baking classes online. From her kitchen in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, Susie teaches everything from how to make a classic English Afternoon Tea to the American baking repertoire.
A former primary school teacher, Susie, who comes from New Mexico, USA, has been attending cooking classes since her early 20s and started teaching freelance baking classes six years ago.
‘I was teaching face to face but after I moved online and started attending more classes online, I realised that it can be more relaxing to bake in your own kitchen,’ she says. ‘When I moved to the the edge of the Cotswolds during lockdown, something just clicked and I decided to create The Cotswolds Baking Workshop.’
After setting up the school she quickly realised that many of her customers relished the chance to bake with others and started offering group experiences which will switch to in-person when lockdown ends.
‘Our motto is ‘Let’s bake together’ because that’s what people want to do and online is perfect for lockdown/these times,’ she says.
Families, friendship groups, office teams, and clubs can book to enjoy experiences which include everything from the tricky art of mastering doughnuts, how to bake bagels and eclairs, or a full-blown Afternoon Tea.
‘Sometimes those who attend online don’t even bake – it’s about enjoying an experience together,’ says Susie. ‘You get Millennials or mums and children doing the class, with grannies sipping a glass of prosecco and enjoying watching their grandchildren!’
She has also noticed the transformative power of baking.
‘I did a corporate experience class and taught simple things that I thought people could be successful with. The participants were so excited, many had never baked before but they were proud enough to show their successes on social media.’
Friends who can’t get together during lockdown have also joined a group class and made the perfect Victoria sponge and, says Susie: ‘It’s also been a great way for companies to give their staff a safe team-building experience – with a delicious treat at the end of it!
‘It’s about coming together, sharing the experience with others and learning a new skill.’
Along with the Afternoon Tea, Susie - who started cooking as a child when she lived in Albuquerque - also teaches the classic American Baking repertoire.
‘I’ve grown up with this style of baking and so it’s something I love to do; from bagels, to doughnuts, to Red Velvet sponge, proper Brownies and real New York cheesecake,’ she says.
When lockdown lifts she’ll be continuing her online experiences but also offering face-to-face classes and parties, including the chance for visitors to the Cotswolds to learn how to bake a traditional Afternoon Tea, through Airbnb Experiences.
‘it couldn’t be easier to join, people just need to visit cotswoldsbaking.com
, check out our classes and experiences and then book a time,’ says Susie. Once the class has been booked and paid for – baking parties start at £100 for up to 20 places - Susie sends out a list of ingredients and equipment that will be needed and the Zoom invitation to join.
More about Susie:
Born on Route 66 in New Mexico, she learned baking at home in Albuquerque before moving to the UK 25 years ago and tackling the British teatime classes, as well as teaching baking at at CityLit and Tea and Scones in London.
In 2017 she won Gordon Ramsay’s Culinary Genius USA. She has also worked with The Real Macaron Company, teaching Parisian style macarons and American baking.
She runs fun, interactive baking experiences either online or in face-to-face workshops, for small groups or one-to-one. She also runs baking parties for kids, teens and adults and Airbnb Experiences in British baking for visitors and expats – think Scone Workshops and Traditional Afternoon Tea.
When she’s not creating artisan baking classes to build confidence and inspire enjoyment, you’ll find her walking the Cotswolds, open-water swimming – and eating delicious cakes!
Contact Susie here: