Bread making class in Holyport
PUBLISHED: 16:28 08 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:28 08 October 2015
Absolute fun, and you get to enjoy the results of your efforts: Maureen McLean heads to Holyport for a bread making class
There are some tips you just can’t ignore – and I don’t mean the ones at our local racecourses. When former Windsor & Maidenhead mayoress Cllr Samantha Rayner came on the phone bubbling about a bread making course she’d been on, it was time to find out more.
So it was off to the fantastic Holyport home of Chris Langridge to take a look at the classes run there by former junior school teacher Liz Wilson of Ma Baker. Liz and Chris first met at The School of Artisan Food (he was recently retired from senior management roles and, with a passion for food, attended a couple of Liz’s bread courses).
She recalls: “Chris suggested that I might want to teach at his house in the beautiful village of Holyport. It is a stunning, original Tudor home set in the most beautiful grounds, complete with huge vegetable gardens and large greenhouses. His kitchen gives me ‘oven envy’, and includes a large range cooker and an Aga, and enough space for up to six students.”
So we joined an excited bunch of keen bakers there, delighted when Liz explained they would be making a basic white dough mix, mini focaccia style bread, soda bread, rye bread and rolls.
The bakers used four ingredients for their basic bread dough – organic strong stoneground flour, tepid water, salt and yeast. Liz showed how to mix the ingredients together and the kneading started.
It wasn’t long before the girls got the complete giggles but they were reassured that despite the sticky blobs in front of them, with enough kneading they would soon each have springy dough to hand… and hey presto! And there was definitely a bit of a competition going on between married couple Penny and Richard Dmoch to see who would make the best loaf.
Liz then showed how to do the ‘window pane test’ where you hold up a square piece of the dough to the light – apparently it’s all about the gluten strands.
The bakers found the kneading to be quite therapeutic and we agreed it would be a great way to keep kids occupied on a rainy weekend. It was time to leave the dough to prove. Another nifty tip from Liz is to use a shower cap over top of the bowl whilst the mixture rises.
The bread is best used within 48 hours, she says, and leftovers can be used for breadcrumbs or to make bruschetta. She has all sorts of ideas for bread – adding potatoes, fruit, nuts and even roast butternut squash to make flatbreads.
Next on the list was a bread using a “sourdough starter” made from flour and water. It is essentially a culture that keeps growing. Apparently there are sourdough hotels where you can leave your starter whilst you are away and they will feed it for you!
And on to soda bread, something that my Mum does every week. For soda bread it’s best to use buttermilk and you can add all sorts of goodies such as sunflower seeds, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes. The bakers soon had their bread made and then put a cross in the top of it to ‘release the fairies!’
Then it was back to the basic mixture. The bakers used wood pulp banneton baskets for their bread to prove. So now we know the secret to those gorgeous round artisan loaves with markings on the side. Penny Dmoch told Liz: “We were really apprehensive last night about the course, but you are making it so easy.”
For lunch we were treated to a selection of home made breads from Liz together with cheeses and chutneys. We also had a stroll around the beautiful gardens at Holyport. Chris and his wife have herb, vegetable and fruit gardens as well as a vine, fresh apricots and squashes.
The bakers were delighted with the results of their effort and got to take home a big bag of their breads to impress families and friends.
If you would like to attend a MaBaker course visit www.mabaker.london. They have Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence. It’s a fabulous way to spend a few hours and a great idea for a birthday or Christmas present.
Liz, an Aussie, has been in the UK some 25 years. She graduated as a Bread Angel over two years ago following Virtuous Bread’s Micro Bakery course with Jane Mason in July 2013. She entered the World Bread Awards and was shocked but delighted to be named Runner Up in the Home Baking category. “Spurred on, I decided that bread was going to be my thing. I started selling a small amount of loaves locally and then, in April 2014, I taught my first class,” she says. Bread orders picked up and eventually she had to bid farewell to the primary school teaching world. More World Bread Awards have followed, and success at the British Food Produce Awards 2015.
After many years in senior management positions Chris is now involved in start up businesses, ranging from a theatrical production to a charity, and developing an artisanal food school with Liz. He says: “One abiding passion has been understanding more about cooking with first rate ingredients. It runs in the family as my mother ran a successful cookery school for many years.”
Chris shares a vision with Liz: to make Holyport a food lovers’ destination. They have a chocolatier on board and plan to add other classes from the autumn.
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