Bread making can be a pretty controversial subject – to use a machine? Or to make it by hand? While one might be easier, many bread making experts suggest that the only way to make great bread is to do it by hand. This month, web editor, Jade, went to find out more about how to make bread and learn all the tips and tricks from an expert.
As a keen baker in my spare time, I’ve always wanted to know how to make bread. I’d heard it was harder to make than cakes though and required a lot of time, which scared me off trying it at home. Not to mention the fact that I have a tiny kitchen and an oven that doesn’t go up very high. After taking the Introduction to Bread Making course at Harrington’s Kitchen, this changed entirely though and left me feeling as though I would never again buy a supermarket loaf for my sandwiches.
The course was held in a light and airy kitchen in what looked like a regular semi-detached house in a residential road in Beckenham. In some ways the homeliness of the location just added to my belief that I could try what I had learnt in my own home – we weren’t in an industrial catering environment instead it was a kitchen not that unlike the one in my flat.
I was greeted on arrival by Stephen and Roberta who made me feel very welcome and quickly introduced me to the other attendees who were from different backgrounds but with the same desire to learn how to make bread.
We started by watching Stephen work and he spoke through everything he was doing as he did it. Then, when the demonstration had finished, it was time for us to try out making bread ourselves. We measured out the flour, yeast, salt and water and then mixed it together. We then practiced Stephen’s technique to replace kneading the bread which involved a lot of throwing and flipping.
After leaving the dough in bowls to get bigger, Stephen then talked us through creating different loaves, rolls and breadsticks. We made rosemary focaccia, olive and pecorino sticks, white crusty rolls and more. With each new style of bread, Stephen explained what we were doing and why, so that we were really able to understand the bread making process.
When the breads had finished baking, we were all invited to sit down at the table and sample them. When I say sample, I mean that Roberta had laid on a beautiful lunch including fresh pesto, meats and cheeses and we were all able to get together to try the bread and discuss how we'd got on. While I found learning how to make bread quite hard, the eating of it certainly wasn’t!
At the end, we were given a certificate of attendance, recipes and a bag of the bread we’d made. We said our goodbyes with the promise that we would try our new skills again soon and that we’d get on going advice if we needed it. I went home with dough in my hair, delicious food in my stomach, and the confidence that I now know how to make bread to a higher standard than the supermarket.
Jade will talk your ear off about rowing if you let her. She studied an MA and NCTJ diploma in Journalism at Brunel but her course-taking didn't stop there, having tried a number of different subjects since working here, even magic. Whether you're an expert who wants to share their knowledge, a student who's had a great experience or you just want to say hi, she'd love you to get in touch through our social media pages.