By guest blogger TRACEY
We ran a delightful session at Chorlton High with an equally delightful group of hens, who were celebrating the impending nuptials of Gemma. The group arrived all keyed up as the bride-to-be had no idea why she was back at school! The session got underway and Cracking Cook Kim guided them through the steps of making Chelsea buns and focaccia. A sweet dough of bread flour, sugar, yeast, milk, butter and egg was mixed together then left to prove while the ladies got on with making the focaccia. A production line of fine onion slicing ensued, with salt sprinkled on to draw out the moisture. Meanwhile, the focaccia dough came together using flour, yeast, fine salt and olive oil and once the sun-dried tomatoes and chopped olives were added, the dough looked incredibly authentic.
We were short on time, so were unable to let the dough prove for the recommended 1½ hours, but this didn’t appear to affect the end result once it was rolled, stretched and placed onto the baking tray. The ladies seemed to enjoy poking the dough to create a hollow for a sprig of rosemary. The red onion slices were sprinkled over the dough along with coarse sea salt. Then everyone's attention was turned to the Chelsea bun dough as it was time to roll it and start sprinkling in the lovely fillings we associate with Chelsea buns; dried fruit, orange rind, mixed spice, brown sugar and cinnamon. It was great to see the process of how to bring these quintessential 18th-century English buns to life and even better to see that all the hens were delighted with their batch of buns and beautifully baked focaccia. The ladies left equipped with freshly self-baked delights to enjoy at their picnic in the park… hope they had fun!
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