19 March 2013

GUEST BLOG: All you knead is loaf

By guest blogger KIM IRWIN

We've been really cracking on sharing our breadmaking skills with the different groups from the Development Education Prject (DEP). Our resident breadmaking expert Rob Tomlinson leads these sessions once a week at St Margaret's Social Centre on Brantingham Road in Chorlton, with help from Kim.

1. Friday 8 March - basic breadmaking skills
We were back at St Margaret's for our second masterclass in breadmaking  in conjunction with the DEP - this time with a different group. Working individually, each person weighed out their flour, yeast and salt then gauged the correct temperature that the water should be in order to activate the yeast. Once combined, the dough was left to rise as we moved tables for the theory part of the session. Rob was soon sharing his many years' worth of tips about breadmaking and informing everyone just how the supermarkets manage to make their bread stay fresh for a week! Interesting stuff. Once the bread had risen, it was knocked back and left for a final proving in the bread tins. The ovens were cranked up and then all eight loaves put in to bake. After 40 minutes, they were tested by tapping lightly on the base, those that sounded hollow were done, those that remained a wee bit spongey were put back in for another 10 minutes to finish off. Everyone left with their own homebaked loaf to share with friends and family. Another successful bread session with Rob!

2. Friday 15 March - focaccia and pizzas
This Friday saw the CGF team back working with the same group from two weeks ago (click here for the blog of that session). For the first 15 minutes, they shared their breadmaking successes since that first class, and it was inspiring to hear that they had been putting into practice what Rob had taught them. As they were now skilled bakers, they were soon put to task in pairs to make two lots of dough each, one for a pizza base and the other for some stuffed focaccia. Once the dough was rising, the participants set to making tomato sauce for the pizza base topping and chopping the fresh ingredients for the focaccia. The room smelled delicious and we were soon feasting on some homemade Fatayer, a Middle Eastern stuffed bread pocket with feta and mint inside that one of the participants had brought to share with the rest of the group. Lovely stuff. Once the sauce had reduced and pizza bases had been rolled out, toppings were added. Wonderful olives, sunblushed tomatoes and mature cheddar were liberally added, and for those who ate fish, salted anchvies were put on some. We were soon sharing amazing pizza slices which everyone agreed were simple to make and tasted far better than a takeaway equivalent. The focaccia dough was rolled next, with olives onions and fresh rosemary stuffed inside. Olive oil was used for the classic Italian taste and into the ovens they went. Once cooked, the participants divided their delicacies to take home and share with loved ones - wow, what a treat, they certainly looked and smelled like the real deal! Looking forward to hearing if anyone makes the pizzas and focaccia between now and our next meeting.

There are more photos from our DEP sessions on our Facebook page. Click here to view the ones from Friday 8 March.

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