Today I’m sharing a great foodie experience I had just this past weekend! I’m on holiday for the next two weeks but I’m very fortunate to have some guest posts lined up for this week, and three posts recapping a foodie evening course I recently attended, next week.
At Christmas I was very lucky to receive money from my in-laws to go towards a private one day bread making course with Elizabeth from Capability Brown’s – one of our favourite local businesses in Inverness (who you will find out a lot about in posts lined up for later this week). In January we met up for a coffee for a blether and to decide what I would like to learn and, possibly most importantly, what types of bread I would like to take home with me!
I would label myself as a enthusiastic home baker, but I really do not know much about the science of bread making. I have made a couple of batches of pizza dough and a couple of loaves in a breadmaker, but I don’t think that really counts! So I was really pleased that I would learn about the principles of bread making.
After a walk up the hill to Elizabeth’s – conveniently only a 15 minute walk from my house, the class began with some tasty muesli bread toast and marmalade in Elizabeth’s homely kitchen.
Elizabeth had worked out a schedule of bakes, and due to it being a one day workshop, had started the process for some of the breads the day before – mixing and leaving the dough for the first prove. I obviously got the chance to make some breads from scratch but it was really helpful to see the difference in how each flour ‘behaved’ during the knocking back/shaping stage.
We made (get ready for your mouth to water):
Focaccia (Black olive, sweet pepper and sundried tomato)
Stromboli (Bread filled with mascarpone and pesto)
Granary, Wholemeal, Spelt and Rye loaves
Bere bannocks – made from Beremeal (so named by the Vikings) is a unique barley. The only place where it is milled in the world is Orkney. You can find more more information about Beremeal here. Traditionally served in triangles, Elizabeth mentioned it goes best with cheese and a dark ale.
Soda bread – the only bread without yeast, so it doesn’t require proving. Easily made at the same time as a pan of soup, it’s a great way to get an instant bread fix.
And finally, a sweet dough which we used for cinnamon buns (orange cream cheese icing)
Not bad for a class lasting 6.5 hours! Of course this was helped by the initial mixing and first prove which had taken place the day before.
Elizabeth was full of bread knowledge and explained the science behind bread making, often while demonstrating techniques such as kneading and folding (which, can be your own style). I found this helpful for my own learning style; I often prefer to watch someone demonstrate first before having a go myself.
Another thing I really appreciated is that Elizabeth’s kitchen is really homely – just like a regular sized kitchen with hardly any specialist equipment (we used banettons for a couple of the loaves to sit in whilst they prove for a second time. They are made out of bamboo). This might sound weird but I imagine learning in a professional or purpose built catering kitchen would be a tad overwhelming, so I appreciated this. It actually felt that I was baking and chatting with a friend which was lovely.
Going on this course has really given me the confidence to know that I can bake bread at home. I can look for signs that bread is behaving in the way that I expect it to at any particular stage of the process. I also now can appreciate that it is all well and good following a recipe but giving a bread longer (ie overnight) to prove will cause the yeast to work much harder and therefore yield a much more flavourful dough.
If you were wondering what we are going to use all of this bread for – we are actually away with friends this week and will be doing self catering, so most of this bread will be taken for us all to enjoy, and some will be left in the freezer for us to enjoy when we return!
A one day private bread making class costs £95. Elizabeth also runs one day group classes which are priced at £85 per person. This includes all ingredients and tuition, breakfast and lunch, a collection of recipes and all the breads that you make to take home with you, as well as a dough scraper. The price of the private class also includes a ‘consultation’ before the class to tailor the learning to your needs.
I received a discount on the cost of the private bread making class but I was under no obligation to write a review. I did it because I love the ethos and products of Elizabeth’s business and I had a great experience (can’t emphasise this enough)!