17 January 2011

GUEST BLOG: Loafing around


My husband Mark has recently been experimenting with making pizza dough from scratch, so I convinced him to rise to his next challenge and join me on the breadmaking for beginners class at the weekend. I've tried to bake my own bread in the past and ended up with a brick, so I thought I could use some handy tips and learn from the experts - namely Rob, whose Aberdeen Buttery Rowies I've sampled in the past so I knew he was up to the job!

First things first, all 12 classmates donned pinnies and put a mixing bowl each into the preheated ovens to warm. Next we got our dried yeast into some hand-hot water to work its magic while we looked at the various flours available. We could choose between organic strong white and wholemeal courtesy of Doves Farm and various artisan offerings, including Granarius and even a biodynamic number, from The Watermill near Penrith. All are stocked in Chorlton's own cooperative supermarket Unicorn Grocery and some you can also get at Hickson & Black's deli.

We weighed out our choices of flour and poured the fizzing and expanding yeast mixture into a well in the centre, then, after scraping everything into a ball of dough, tipped it onto a floured surface and got kneading, which was a lot easier than I'd expected. After a few minutes working the dough so that it became smooth and elastic, we pulled it apart and dropped half in a loaf tin greased with margarine, and put this aside to rise.

With the remainder, we were free to do what we liked. I made barmcakes, Mark did finger rolls, I spotted some batches and bloomers, and a couple of adventurous people created some lovely looking plaits (see above). Once everything had been left to rise, they were baked in a hot oven for just under half an hour (less for the smaller baps). Mark's was the first tin loaf out (see below) and he even received a round of applause, it was so perfect!

While the loaves and rolls rested on wire racks to cool, we got busy making naan breads to eat there and then. For these, we used white flour and yeast, with sugar and salt added for flavour, but the magic ingredient was yoghurt, which we heated up to the same temperature as the yeast mix before mixing everything together and transferring to a floured surface to knead. The naans were then rolled out into their familiar shape (garlic paste - made from garlic finely chopped with salt - could be added at this stage, if preferred) and cooked in a frying pan on the hob. Really tasty with houmous and guacamole, and equally delicious later that evening with a fish curry we rustled up for the occasion of having fresh homemade naans in the house!


If you missed this class, there's another chance to take part in Breadmaking for Beginners on Tuesday 25 January, 6pm-9pm. If you've already taken the basic class, you might be interested in joining the advanced breadmaking class, when Rob will be looking at sourdough (contains egg), brioche, rye bread and others: Saturday 22 January 11am-2pm and Tuesday 1 February 6pm-9pm.

As always, bookings can be made online at http://crackinggoodfood.org/, via email (fiona@crackinggoodfood.org), by telephone on 0845 652 2572, or in person at Hickson & Black’s deli on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton.

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