I’ve always been a keen baker, but have always had trouble when it comes down to bread, I can never make it rise properly and it always seems dense enough that it could be cake. I usually stick to pies and tarts – basically I’m a lover of anything wrapped in pastry, and B thought it was time I tailored my culinary abilities to the art of bread-making, and so treated me to a lesson at Bread Ahead.
The Bakery School was started back in February 2014 by Matt Jones and Justin Gellatly, with the intention of showing the patrons of borough market just how easy it is to make great bread. They have a range of different courses; you can do doughnut, gluten-free or croissant workshops, then theres a few introduction courses on different types of bread. I did ‘An Introduction to Italian Baking, and there was around 12 of us in my class lead by Sim Cass, an english born baker, who’s spent the last 40 years travelling around the word perfecting his talents.
I arrived on time, but went off in search of the loo, and by the time I got back everyone was being fitted into aprons, and finding themselves spaces along the massive work bench. We tarted with the basics, he taught us all about the ingredients we were using and what role they had in making the perfect dough. We learnt all about proving and how to stretch the gluten and knead the dough – it was hard work.
He gave us lots of pointers and tips, for us to take away with us so we could continue baking at home:
- Water & Humidity is key to getting home baking right – don’t just stand a bowl of water in your oven, spritz the inside of the oven with water regularly, this helps produce a lovely crust
- Add your ingredients in the right order- When making your dough, start with the water then dissolve the yeast into it, then comes the flour and salt. A lot of bread recipes say to add oil, but this should never be mixed into your dough, but should just be used to line the proving bowl.
- Avoid soggy bottoms – Always try to bake your bread on top of a layer of polenta, tis will give you a crusty bottom.
I came home with loads of freshly baked treats, we started by making rosemary breadsticks to perfect our dough making skills, and then swiftly went on to making rosemary, olive and tomato Focaccia, finally we made traditional Italian Ciabatta. I thoroughly recommend giving one of these lessons a go, especially for anyone who’s a keen home baker, its also a great gift idea.