When I was at school, and even when I was qualified, I hated writing reports, I’m just not a paperwork sort of person. However this one has been a joy, because I was actually interested in the subject, and want to share it. And I know or at least hope that you, as fellow foodies, will be interested as well.
So for the last three days I have been making bread, looking back it was quite intensive, but at the time it seemed relaxed, only now I realise just how much ground we covered.
So here it is!
I’ve finally made it onto a bread course, and while I can’t say what the others would have been like, I’m certainly not sorry to have ended up on this one.
I was initially a bit worried, as from the website it appeared that I was on it on my own, but as it turned out there were two of us, myself and a very nice lady.
Please visit their website, http://www.mannafromdevon.com for all the course details; you’ll see that they do more than bread courses.
Our hosts Holly and David were very welcoming, and we were kept topped up with coffee whilst we got started.
David took the course, and soon proved his knowledge and passion for bread, effortlessly performing the tasks that I have brought expensive machinery to perform.
The first day was spent on a bit of refreshment of techniques, including the difference that varying flour type and hydration, makes to your loaf. In about 30 minutes, we had 11 different types of dough, showing how the 4 basic ingredients can be varied.
Lunch was a delicious soup, with flatbreads, using parts of the dough we had just made, and then we were off again shaping the loaves ready to bake.
Whilst they were in the oven, we prepared starters for croissants and baguettes, which we would make on the second day, and for morning rolls. Homework was set (A piece of reading from the extensive cookery book library) then it was time for the breads to come out of the oven, cool and be assessed.
|Various Flour, but all at the same Hydration|
|Same Flour, Various Hydration|
Next day, after coffee, we carried on with the morning rolls, and started croissants and baguettes; we also made what David called a flying starter for sweet dough, basically a pre-ferment.
|Croissants ready for the oven|
The morning rolls were a sensation, and were just perfect for lunch with ham and mustard.
I find the whole bread-making process fascinating and at the time the things we were doing made perfect sense, but after a while I must admit to getting a bit confused and found it tricky to remember which stage went with which dough, and from which starter. I just hope that there will be a three volume course handbook. You can’t keep stopping to take notes as that would involve more hand washing than Lady Macbeth. Probably more like Politician amounts.
I digress, once again the process was arranged so that we were always doing something, and everything was hands on. In a seemingly endless line came all the loaves, the sweet dough was made, by popular agreement into saffron fruit bread, which was superb.
The Croissants, considering they had 250g of butter in them were dry and fluffy, without a trace of grease. The Baguettes were crisp and as good as anything you will find in most “Bakers”.
|Croissants ready to eat|
|Saffron infused Tea Bread|
|The Best Baguettes|
The day finished with sourdough, which had been bubbling away in the background since day one, and to which we had been returning to stretch and fold when we had five minutes through the day.
Loaves were shaped and put into the fridge ready for day three, which would also include accelerated sourdough. Once again a large bag of bread came home with me, my freezer is now bulging.
Day three and the pace slowed down a little, we were now in sourdough territory, and the one thing that does need is time, or does it? David showed us how to make what he calls an accelerated sourdough, modifying the method to produce a rise in less time. We also made a loaf with a mixture of flours, including rye, which is certainly interesting to work, I chased mine around the table for hours, without changing its consistency much, but suddenly – it began to behave and hold its shape.
|Rye Bread, ready to Cook|
Lunch was home made naan bread stuffed with a spicy lamb ragout,
after which a succession of loaves made their way in and out of the oven, and into the empty flour sack for home testing.
A final round-up the three days was much appreciated, together with a chance to make some notes and ask for clarification on any of the recipes.
Overall, I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself over the course, I learned so much more than I had picked up from books, all taught in a relaxed, easy to understand way. I have had lots of hands on experience and when I can actually get through all the bread I have made and start making my own again, I’m sure I will be a better baker for it. And the lunches were great, especially as we were eating fresh bread that we had just made.
|All for Me|
|My Bread Bin, it won't look like this for long!|
If you are looking for a course that goes a bit beyond the basic, this one is highly recommended.
So there it is, my report on the bread course, I’m off for a bit of Sourdough Toast and marmalade (homemade of course)