31 May 2012
GUEST BLOG: New breads on the block
By guest blogger HELEN ROADHOUSE
A lovely group came all the way from St Helens to Chorlton High School on Saturday (26 May) to learn from Rob how to make a classic loaf as well as focaccia and naan bread.
The group were volunteers from a community food group called Shoots who work not for profit and locally source and pack affordable veggie packs. This was originally to be for more disadvantaged groups and individuals to promote healthy eating but as it is so successful apparently anyone can buy the packs now. What a fantastic idea and certainly one that sits well with our own ethos here at Cracking Good Food.
We got started on the basic loaf. It was really interesting to learn from Rob that baking your own bread is so much healthier than buying supermarket bread. He explained that by allowing breads to prove for longer, like soda breads, the process makes the bread more easily digestible and often people who cannot tolerate mass-produced breads can eat some homemade breads. Also of course you know exactly what ingredients are going into it instead of the dizzying array of chemicals that help preserve the shop-bought breads. Rob explained the live nature of yeast and that it could have slightly unpredictable results and occasionally some doughs don't rise as well as others even though you use the same packet of yeast.
Rob had some great tips on kneading and using 'bakers mate' tools and while that dough was left to prove we started on the dough for the focaccia and naan. They both started off the same with the flour, olive oil and yeast quantities. The naan was mixed with garlic paste and yoghurt while the focaccia was stretched into baking trays to prove. The naan was divided to make six balls rolled thin to fry in sunflower oil in a frying pan. The focaccia was drizzled with oil from the olives and sun-blush tomatoes and then liberally decorated with an assortment of delicious ingredients - red onion, garlic, salt, rosemary, sun-blush tomatoes, olives and blue cheese, but the list could go on and on - then these were put into the oven.
The smells from the baking were more than enough to get mouths watering in anticipation and it was well past lunchtime so everyone enthusiastically divided up the different types of breads to taste. There had been one or two of the group who admitted they weren't overly keen on quite a lot of the ingredients we were adding to the focaccia, and one lady didn't like garlic. What was lovely was that they all tried ingredients they wouldn't normally eat and some even enjoyed foods they had previously said they didn't like. One lady said she was not a fan of curries but would use this naan bread with other meals instead plus she tried and liked hummous with it, which was a first for her.
Everyone learned something new from the class plus most were trying new flavours and discovering new ideas for using breads. I think sometimes breadmaking can seem a daunting task but Rob helped all of us understand that it really isn't something to be worried about and we all agreed that we would be trying out these recipes at home. It also helped that he could demonstrate exactly when a loaf was cooked to perfection not only by how it looks but also by how it sounds when you tap the bottom. A springy drum sound!
It had been a hot day for baking but no one minded as we were all thoroughly absorbed with the baking, learning and creating and everyone went home with bags bulging with delicious warm, fresh aromatic offerings. Another Cracking Good success!
There are more photographs from this session on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page. Click here to be redirected.
We're running this session again, on Saturday 30 June, so if you missed out this time, you can sign up here.