LJMU's Food Development and Nutrition students were introduced to the art of sweet making from The Sweet Consultant, Andy Baxendale. Andy recently presented the BBC programme, ‘The Sweet Makers’, which explored recipes from Tudor, Georgian and Victorian Britain. He brought his many years of experience as a confectioner to the LJMU Food Academy to show students what’s involved in making boiled sweets. His demo covered how to make striped candy, including techniques for pulling sugar, as well as how to create spun sugar for cake decorations.
As the sugar mixture was on the hob, Andy shared some of his vast knowledge of sweets, everything from the history of sugar in the UK to how flavours are created.
Five things we learned about sweets from Andy’s demo:
- The most popular sweet flavour is strawberry and it has maintained first place for quite some time
- Andy worked as product development manager for Chewits who often developed experimental flavours for their chewy sweets including cheese and onion, and bacon
- Confectionery skills are in short supply; there is currently no dedicated confectionery training offered in the UK and only one in Europe – an eight week course in Germany. We agree with Andy: “A degree in sweeties would be wonderful”
- Think you’re onto a good thing by eating sugar-free sweets? Well it turns out they contain maltitol, a sugar alcohol which has a laxative effect, so maybe not that great of an idea after all
- A quick poll of the room found that our favourite sweets are rhubarb and custard boiled sweets and pear drops
“The opportunity to share some confectionery based knowledge with 20 or so keen food/nutrition students was very satisfying. They were extremely willing to learn and raring to go when their turn came.” – Andy Baxendale, The Sweet Consultant
Once they watched Andy’s demo, students got to work making their own sweets. Some found the experience of pulling sugar particularly therapeutic and all agreed it was a useful skill to have under their belt. Cherie Hoey, a Level 5 student, really enjoyed the session:
“It was such a great experience being able to watch and practice a specialist craft. I think out-of-class sessions like this are really beneficial as I feel like I have now gained a new skill in something I would never have thought of practicing before. It was great to have Andy in, he really knew what he was doing and we were all really grateful of him for spending time with us and sharing his knowledge.”
There are plans to introduce more extracurricular sessions for the students including toffee and fudge making and a visit to a flavour factory.
Watch the Christmas special of 'The Sweet Makers' on iPlayer.
If you’re a bit of a foodie and would like to make a career out of it, why not find out more about the Food Development and Nutrition course at LJMU?