What a gorgeous day it was for the ever popular Bread Extra session. We were going to be making a classic loaf, garlic naan and focaccia, and we also had a surprise for the participants who could not fail to be peckish after creating all these tempting breads.
As usual Rob had his audience rapt as he shared his expertise and detailed the differences between flours and yeasts. He explained how you should always use some salt, but that you can vary the amount according to taste or should you have health issues. It was interesting to hear how modern shop-bought breads are made too quickly due to modified yeasts and specially grown, high gluten, strong flours. Before the 1960s, commercially made bread took so much longer to be ready for the oven, meaning that lactobacillus was produced by the yeasts which helped break down gluten and consequently made bread more digestible. Coeliac disease and gluten intolerances are noticeably more common since this process was sped up with the introduction of modern ingredients.
While the participants got on with their creations, the coordinators set to with constructing a late lunch for everyone. We made some more dough and rolled it out then started on a tomato sauce - we were having pizza, of course! We fried an onion and some garlic, then added tomatoes and Rob's secret ingredient. An apple or pear is added instead of sugar and this takes the edge off any bitterness and also adds some depth of flavour. I've never made my tomato sauces any other way since Rob first showed me this. For the topping, we sliced some mushrooms and added some delicious anchovies and some olives left over from the focaccia.
The first batch of fabulous loaves - every one of them a success - were taken out of the oven and replaced with the pizzas and they were ready pretty much when the focaccias were done. These were some of the most glorious focaccias I have seen in these sessions - beautifully risen and baked to perfection. By now, as you can imagine, the room was full of mouthwatering fresh bread and garlicky focaccia aromas, so everyone was more than ready for pizza. There was no waste, every slice was claimed, so everyone went home full of homemade pizza and proudly clutching their beautiful bread. Result!
There are more photographs from this session on our Facebook page.
We've added some more breadmaking sessions to the spring programme as all those scheduled have booked up! 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 full details of both and how to book.