3 July 2012

GUEST BLOG: Use your loaf!

By guest blogger HELEN ROADHOUSE

It was a full house for making bread at Chorlton High School on Saturday, so it was looking to be a busy day, even with the extra hour that has been added to this session! Rob wasted no time in telling us that we would be making a standard loaf, garlic naan and some focaccia, so everyone would be going home with a veritable feast of goodies!

Rob explained that bread bought in supermarkets is made very quickly and filled with preservatives and all sorts of other chemicals so it stays fresh for longer. It was interesting to learn that there are no laws to insist on commercial breadmakers listing the exact contents. We all found it interesting to ponder why Britain has such a huge commercial 'sliced white' industry whereas in most other European countries, France particularly, the bread culture is to buy bread baked freshly daily from local bakeries.

Rob brought in some sour dough that he had freshly baked that morning for us all to try. Mmmmm!
Unfortunately sour dough takes a bit too long to prepare for a session, but he explained to us the processes and its benefits so we could go home and make some sour dough if we chose to. One of the interesting parts of the sour dough process is the 'starter' or ' sponge' that is used. Sour dough does not use dried or fresh yeast, but instead a mixture of flour, water and sugar is left for the natural yeasts in the air to become the mixture that is added to the dough. This 'starter' can take up to four days to be ready to use and then usually bakers will use half of the mixture or batter for a batch and use the other half to prepare a new 'starter' for the next batch and so on it goes. Some old bakeries are reputed to be using and dividing the same starter originally prepared over a hundred years ago! Rob certainly is a font of interesting facts and baking tips!

Everyone's standard loaf dough rose well enough to be baked so everyone had a loaf to be proud to take home. The naan smelt garlicky and tempting and the focaccia was adorned with yummy ingredients so the room was full of mouth-watering aromas.
The day was a busy but brilliantly successful and a lot of delicious breads were created. The volunteers, Angela and Vinod, were fantastic to have on the team and were greatly appreciated by all. I think I can genuinely say that everyone thoroughly enjoyed baking with Rob and they all soaked up his fantastic knowledge. So many participants said how much they couldn't wait to start baking the recipes at home, especially the sour dough. What a lovely group of people!

Rob will be running a Breadmaking For Beginners session on Saturday 29 September and another Bread Extra session on Saturday 20 October. Full details and booking information can be found on the Cracking Good Food website: click here and here to be redirected.

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