Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Adventures in bread baking

Over the bank holiday weekend, we went to Mayfield Farm Bakery in Old Harlow to attend one of their bread baking courses.  It's something we've always fancied trying our hands at and it was our Christmas present to each other.  We decided to wait for a lovely Spring day to enjoy it

There were sixteen of us in the class and we arrived at 10am for tea and coffee before being introduced to Nick the baker.  He told us all about the history of bakers within his family.  He comes from a long line of master bakers so it most certainly runs in his blood. 

Then we were set to work mixing up a dough.  With only five ingredients, it was a simple recipe - a far cry from the long list of ingredients found in 'plastic' bread in our supermarkets. 

Once kneaded together for a good ten minutes (this sure is a good workout to banish any bingo wings!),  it was left for its first proving while we gathered together around the industrial mixer to mix up a huge batch of dough to be divided between us later.  

By then our doughs had doubled in size, so they were knocked back, removing all the air bubbles, split into two and left for a little while again to rise.  Once the dough had risen a bit, it was time to shape the two loaves and add filling to one, transforming it into a speciality loaf.  Stilton, walnuts and raisins were added to one and the other dusted with flour and slashed with a cross pattern on top.  

We'd worked up a pretty good appetite by then so were led through to the cafe for our lunch which was included in the price of the workshop.  I was so hungry that I forgot to take a photo of our main course (a goats cheese and fig tart) but here is our lovely dessert - blackberry and frangipan tart - so delicious!  

The afternoon was spent shaping the large batch of dough into various shapes - cobs, bloomers, plaits and a knotted bloomer. 

As total novices we were a little worried about how they would turn out and were amazed when they appeared from the oven twenty minutes later looking like pretty professional loaves! 

We each got to take home five loaves - here is what we brought home... luckily we'd had the forethought to clear some space in the freezer! 

We're just coming to the end of the loaves now and they have been absolutely delicious.  I'm excited to try baking our own now, maybe using some granary or wholemeal flours and I'm already thinking of all the different fillings to try...

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