Well, you know autumn has arrived when the Great British Bake Off is back on and this week’s bread week certainly raised more than a few loaves and eyebrows. All hail the snail! A moment of pure TV gold.
It is only fitting then that this week’s blog has a link and who knew that the timing of a bakery course could be so perfect! Yes, on my husband’s quest for the perfect loaf, I took a day off from my self-initiated abstinence from carbohydrates to indulge in all things floury.
Thanks to a last minute booking by my husband, we signed up to an all day bakery course at Bread Ahead in the wonderful Borough Market. Our course of choice; the Complete English Baking Workshop, with the promise of perfect British baps, buttery short crust, an overnight white loaf and supreme scones! Yes it was the course that would have made my grandmother proud, not to mention Mary Berry and even Prue Leith! Would we really be Master Bakers within six and a half hours?
So as Saturday night drew to a close, we set our alarms for the inevitable early rise (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!). Its fair to say my Sunday mornings are usually spent sleeping. I am not a morning person at the best of times but with the promise of a strong coffee waiting for me when I woke, it made the early start a little less painful and before I knew it we were on our way to Borough.
We arrived a little early taking the opportunity to explore the back streets around Borough Market, nothing quite like London early morning on a Sunday (not that I see it very often!) and the view of the Shard and Southwark Cathedral bathed in the morning sun greeted us as we arrived at the venue.
We made our way to the teaching room and were welcomed by the lovely Kathryn Roberts, the Bakery School Manager and my second cup of coffee of the day. I’d skipped breakfast in anticipation of the carbohydrate feast that lay ahead of us, only to be side tracked by the plate of rich velvety chocolate brownies that accompanied the coffee. Yes, there is a self confessed chocoholic in the room and no, its never too early for chocolate, so at 9.45am with coffee in hand, I devoured the best brownie I’ve ever had and a taste of things to come!
As our fellow bakers for the day arrived, so did Manuel Monade, Bakery School Tutor and our baking mentor for the day. We quickly settled into out seats ready for his instruction and after a very charismatic introduction we were ready to begin. We started with the short crust pastry, which would form part of our lunch. Following Manuel’s every word, we began weighing, mixing and rubbing and before we knew it our short crust was ready to chill. We then moved onto the first stage of our overnight white loaf, using starter dough, more flour, fresh yeast, seasoning and water, again following Manuel’s brilliant guidance step by step to produce our bread dough ready for kneading. Another quick demo from Manual and off we went and 6 and a half minutes later, there it was, our rather perfect looking bread dough.
We moved from dough back to pastry to construct our lunch; vegetarian pasties made with our very own short crust. Then it was onto the enriched dough for our rather perfect British baps, whilst our lunch baked in the rather plush wall over ovens.
Timed to perfection we set aside the enriched dough to prove and took a break for lunch to indulge in the glory that was our perfect short crust! Golden brown and not a soggy bottom in the house!
Energy levels restored it was back to the over night white loaf to shape, flour and slice ready for a final prove before baking and then onto shaping our perfect baps with show stopping technique!
Next came the scones and I was instantly transported back to my childhood and memorise of baking with my grandmother. It really was the prefect day. Whilst we weighed, mixed, rolled and cut our scones we were seduced by the wonderful smell of our freshly baking bread as it filled the teaching room. As our loaves and baps reached the perfect shade of golden brown it was time for a taste test whilst our scones went into bake.
Lashing of golden butter and Bread Aheads amazing jam were placed on the table and the carbfest commenced! And OMG, the proof was certainly in the eating! The perfect white loaf and beautifully sweet baps! I was in carb heaven! And it wasn’t over, after a quick clean down our scones were ready and this time it was lashings of artery hardening clotted cream and more of that amazing jam! And better still we had the fruits of our days labour to take away with us to continue the indulgence of the day.
Founded in 2013, Bread Ahead is probably best known for its rather spectacular doughnuts. The brain child of Matthew Jones and Justin Gellatly there aim is to bring quality baking to the masses, creating the best possible products from the best British ingredients and that the certainly do.
The bakery school opened in 2014 and there is a long list of course catering for all your baking needs!
So whether you are looking to develop your own baking skills or for the perfect gift for the armature baker in your life, then look no further! There is literally something for everyone.
And if you just looking for perfect British Product, then why not visit one of Bread Aheads shops this weekend in Borough Market, Pavialion Road Chelsea or Monmouth Street at Seven Dials and pick up a perfect loaf or two or better still a box of their amazing doughnuts or one for those spectacular brownies! They really are the perfect pick me up for the autumn blues.
And if you want to learn more, then why not treat yourself their newly launched book ‘Baking School’ and turn your kitchen into your very own bakery. So go on, indulge your inner baker this weekend, you know you want to!