26 March 2013

GUEST BLOG: Great bakes

By guest blogger SIOBHAN KELLY

We had another full house on Saturday (23 March) for our ever-popular Bread Extra session led by our resident breadmaker extraordinaire, Rob Tomlinson, and, despite it being a bitterly cold morning with sub zero temperatures outside, the room was warm and welcoming thanks to all the ovens being on ready to bake.

We were going to be making various types of bread: a traditional loaf, garlic naan plus focaccia with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, sliced red onions, rock salt and fresh rosemary. The volunteers also made pizza so we could all share lunch - we made a dough and a basic pizza sauce and prepared toppings of olives, red peppers, anchovies, mushrooms and cheese – the result was delicious: such a light and spongy base and a healthy, simple and tasty topping. 

The session started with making dough for the loaves, discussions on the different types of yeast, their properties and behaviour, then straight into some hands-on fun with flour and water helped with the use of a handy plastic spatula known as the Baker's Mate. The dough was mixed and left to rise with a damp tea towel over the bowl to prevent the dough from drying out and forming a crust.

Next, it was time for garlic paste making, for the naans - fresh chopped garlic is mixed with sea salt to make a paste. The naan dough is made with flour and heated up soya yoghurt and olive oil for the liquid, so it's suitable for vegans, and just delicious when fried in the pan and eaten with red pepper hummous.

The focaccia-making was good fun and they looked so spectacular when completed, my favourite bread. Stretching the dough can sometimes be more effective than rolling it as it is very elastic. The first layer was sprinkled with sun-dried tomatoes and olives, folded over and left to rise again, then sprinkled with sliced red onions, fresh rosemary and rock salt before putting in a hot oven to bake through. Once these were ready, we gathered round the table with the focaccia, loaves and naan and as we tasted the different bread, Rob gave us some more interesting information about bread-making and when reflected on what we had learnt after just one morning in the kitchen.

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On Saturday 11 May, we'll be re-running the Bread Extra session described here, then on Saturday 29 June, we are running the second all-day breadmaking session - see the CGF website for more information and bookings. 

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