Just loafing around

I spent the whole day today making bread.

When I lived in Sussex, I used to do quite a bit of breadmaking by hand, but in more recent years, I have been corrupted by the electric breadmaker. So when I tried my hand at making sourdough this year (which needs longer proving, and isn’t really suited to a breadmaker), I had very mixed success – some really good loaves (which I posted about here), and some abject failures (which I didn’t boast about at all).

I decided I needed to get back to basics, so a few weeks ago I signed up for a one day breadmaking class, which was held today.

The classes are held in Little Bytham, just north of Stamford. Normally there would be up to 4 people on the course, but this was the last one of the year, so there were only two of us, myself, and a new mum whose partner had surprised her the night before; telling her that he was taking the baby for the day, and she was going on a breadmaking course. So it was just the two of us and Pete, our teacher; with his wife Jackie popping in occasionally to make the tea and do the washing up! Jackie also joined us for a “baker’s lunch” of freshly made bread, cheese and home made soup.

It was a very hands-on course, with each of us making 3 batches of bread during the day – as one is baking, another is proving, while we mix the third. All done by hand, so I have had quite a workout!

During the day, I made:

A selection of rolls
A Coburg loaf
A Split Tin
A Bloomer
A Wholemeal round loaf
A novelty Wholemeal, baked in a plant pot.

All of the above we take home with us, which is about 4kg of bread. Pete gave us instructions on freezing it, but as it happens, I have some boardgamers coming around tomorrow, so I don’t think I will have a problem.

The course I did was “Introduction to Home Baked Bread“. I did wonder if I should start with such a basic course, but I am glad I did. Even though I already understood the principles of making dough, the bit I really lacked was about handling and shaping the dough. Doing so with an experienced baker looking over my shoulder was a fantastic experience, and I’ve come away with a better understanding, and a lot more confidence. Equally valuable were hints on the presentation and decorating of the bread, and sources of equipment and ingredients.

If I get a chance before the bread is all eaten, I’ll take a picture, and post it here, later. However, for now, I want to sit down, put my feet up and have a beer. I might even have a roll or two.

EDIT: Here are the results of the class, less two rolls. What willpower!
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