23 April 2013

GUEST BLOG: Our daily bread

By guest blogger EMMA SMAIL

Last Saturday (20 April) saw the first of Rob’s Our Daily Bread sessions: a new full-day bread course in response to feedback from people saying they want more time for the bread classes, as there is so much to learn. And learn we did: Our Daily Bread sent participants away with four different varieties of bread, and a sourdough starter so they can make a fifth variety when that is ready in a few days.

First was the basic bread dough. Flour, yeast, salt and water were mixed and left to rise, then we got on with making rye bread. Rye bread follows a similar recipe, with rye flour, of course. Rob introduced everyone to the traditional Polish way of making rye bread by adding a couple of teaspoons of molasses for that distinctive taste and dark colour, and caraway seeds, a very popular seed in Polish cooking. Next up, the bagel dough was made and each baking team had three doughs rising as we stopped for lunch.
After lunch everyone started kneading the basic bread and left it rising in the tin as we moved onto the final bread mixture of the day, soda bread. This one is made with bicarbonate of soda instead of yeast, as when it is mixed with slightly sour milk, or buttermilk – the whey from the cheese-making process, as is the traditional Irish way - the bicarbonate of soda reacts and effervesces with the acidity causing the dough to rise. The bakers made their own buttermilk by adding a squeeze of lemon juice to milk to make it curdle then it was mixed with the dry ingredients, shaped and baked. No rising or kneading required.
Rye bread was kneaded and shaped and left to rise then this and the basic bread were also baked as the group shaped and boiled their bagels. One participant said that, out of making all the breads today, shaping the bagels into their distinctive shape was the most fun. The bagels are boiled for two minutes on each side before being baked, a process that made some of the bagels swell up to enormous sizes! There was a selection of ingredients such as different seeds and sugar to top the bagels with so everyone could make them their own. Then many of the other breads were ready to come out of the oven in time for the bagels to go in. By this point the smells in the room were amazing. Everyone knows that freshly baked bread is one of the loveliest smells; the smell of three different varieties of freshly baked breads at the same time is exquisite.
By the end of the session each baker had a huge hamper amount of bread to take home and share, or eat all in one sitting if they so desired! Also, everyone was given a sourdough starter of rye flour mixed with water to keep adding to for years and years to get endless sourdough loaves from. More importantly, everyone had the skills and knowledge to bake so many different kinds of loaves they could almost have a different type of bread every day.
The extended edition of Rob’s bread course went down a treat. Not only were more recipes taught and learnt, but there was more time to get Rob to offload more of his extensive bread knowledge to the group - although a full day still isn’t enough to learn everything he knows! All the participants thoroughly enjoyed the day and we thank them for all their hard work and effort.
See our Facebook page for more photographs of this session.
Rob will be running more breadmaking classes in the near future in both Chorlton and Altrincham - check out the Cracking Good Food website for full dates and details.


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