Let’s talk about me and bread for a second here: I don’t ordinarily eat it. I like baking it, but I’m not great at it – I think because I tend to use all wholemeal flour. But we don’t really keep bread at home, mainly due to the fact that bread is a such delicious concoction that if we do have it, we will eat nothing else and end up exploding (I’m sure).
Regardless, I wanted to improve my bread making skills (or lack thereof) so Nancy decided to enrol us in a course – this was back in September, people. We only got a place for April – in retrospect, pretty damned awesome seeing as it was so sunny and warm, and a good testament to how good the course is.
Nancy also decided to make it my early birthday present, which was very generous of her, so of course I am indebted to her now – I may pay her in bread.
The course started on Saturday at 9 am and lasted until about 4.30 pm. We were staying with her sister Sarah (who joined us, as well as her flatmate Briony), and were of course late, which is my culture rubbing off on everyone. Ah well. We were welcomed at Tom Baker‘s house by a couple of smiley faces, tea and different kinds of bread. We had just had breakfast, but it was bread, everybody! How do you refuse bread?
You don’t, that’s how.
I stuffed myself with a few slices of bread before we even started. And then we did start mixing, kneading and proving in groups of 2. It was brilliant, especially because the sun was shining, and we had the clay oven right next to us, so we sometimes got a whiff of the wonderful burning wood – wonderful when you smell it out of the oven, not so much when your hair smells like it; we would find this out in due course.
We started out by making a number of doughs, one for ciabatta, a white loaf, a wholemeal loaf, etc etc. There was much kneading involved, mine quite violent, often ending up with dough everywhere.
Tom is a very nice and thorough teacher; very knowledgeable and quite keen on getting us as excited about bread as he is. He had prepared some sourdough for us to practice our shaping skills, and also to show us different… yeasts I suppose?
We made our own pizza for lunch (topped with his yummy home smoked cured ham), and then spent the afternoon shaping, baking and talking.
At the end we each got given our portion of what we had baked for the day and went merrily on our way.
It was pretty much stuff your face day for me – so, glorious. We were also given some brioche dough (9 eggs and one and a half blocks of butter – bliss!) to take home and bake the next day; I have just had a slice (or two) and it is deliciously light and fluffy (9 eggs!) and rich (one and a half blocks of butter!).
So anyway, I guess the sensible eating begins… now?
Head over to Nancy’s blog if you’d like a more exhaustive version of our day.