When my husband said he would like a bread making course for his birthday, I did not foresee the trouble I would have in finding one. I telephoned restaurants and colleges offering courses all over Surrey and London only to be told they were fully booked until September. TV programmes such as Paul Hollywood’s Bread seemed to have reignited the nations interest in one of our oldest professions. Just as I was about to admit defeat and buy my husband a bread making DVD from amazon I telephoned the Molesey Adult Learning Centre run by Surrey County Council. I snapped up the last two places with great relief and my husbands birthday was saved!
After packing what seemed like our entire kitchen into our car we arrived at the Molesey centre at 9am on Saturday 29th June. We received a warm welcome from our tutor Lesley Stark and were left to set up our work areas for the day. Lesley demonstrated how to make the dough for a plain white loaf, a wholemeal loaf, a malthouse loaf and the white bread rolls so that by the end of the fourth demonstration we really understood the fundamental techniques of bread making.
We enjoyed the whole process of bread making, even the kneading. A little tip for you when kneading dough. Put all your anger into it and you will have a soft, smooth, elastic dough. You should be able to stretch the dough without tearing it when it hits the right consistency. Kneading is such a good stress reliever that I may even start taking a ball of dough to work with me!
We had great fun making the white bread rolls and the Foccacia bread. The following morning we used the bread rolls to make the tastiest bacon buttys we had ever had. Shop bread doesn’t seem half as appealing once you start baking your own. Then in the evening we enjoyed the Foccacia in the garden, with some salami and cheese. The perfect way to end the day!
All in all we had a great day at the West Molesey centre and Lesley Stark was a fantastic tutor. I would highly recommend this course to anyone looking to master the art of bread making. We left with so much bread that we gave a loaf to both of our neighbours as we couldn’t fit it all into the freezer.
Attached are a few recipes from the course:
Plain White Bread
500g/ just over a lb strong white flour
1 level teaspoon salt
2 level teaspoons fast acting dried yeast
345ml hand hot water – approx
1 teaspoon white caster sugar
12g/ 1/2 oz butter
Little extra flour
1) Prepare a 2lb/900g loaf tin by either greasing or lining with non-stick paper and then greasing the corners.
2) Measure ingredients, and prepare a water jug (just warm for the fingers).
3) Place the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
4) Add the butter and rub in with the fingertips.
5) Add the fast action dried yeast and stir lightly.
6) Make a well in the centre and add the majority of measures water.
7) Using a round-bladed knife, stir and add water until it begins to form a dough. (Top tip- It is always better for you dough to have too much water than too little.)
8) Turn the dough and any loose flour onto the work surface and use hands to finish the mixing, adding more water if required to create a ‘soft and moist’ dough. It is important that the dough is NOT dry or tight.
9) Knead this soft dough vigorously for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
10) The dough needs to be lightly covered and allowed to rise until double in size. Either leave under a upturned bowl or in a bowl covered loosely with cling film, or a clean bowl – approx 1 1/2 – 2 hrs at room temperature or 45 mins in a warm place.
11) Turn out on to the work surface and ‘knock back’ the dough by briefly kneading.
12) Shape the dough into an oval by folding into three (sides to centre) and place the dough in the prepared tin – join underneath, smooth side uppermost.
13) Cover loosely with lightly oiled cling film, or a large oiled plastic bag and leave to rise again for about 30 mins to an hour or doubled in size.
14) Preheat the oven to gas no 8-450F or 230C.
15) Dust the loaf with a little extra flour and score the surface if wished several times to decorate.
16) Bake for about 25-40 minutes until risen, baked and golden.
17) Check if cooked: Then turn out of the tin and tap the base of the loaf, a cooked loaf should sound hollow. May be returned to the oven if necessary to crisp the base and side crust. Allow to cool on a rack.
250g strong white flour
8g fresh yeast or 1 1/2 teaspoons fast action dried yeast
1 small teaspoon salt
25g extra virgin olive oil + additional 2 tablespoons
160g hand hot water – approx
Few sprigs fresh rosemary
good quality rock salt
1) Preheat oven to 250C.
2) Place the flour in a mixing bowl, together with the semolina and rub in the yeast.
3) Add the salt and the olive oil and the water.
4) Begin to mix the dough together with a blunt knife whilst gradually adding the measured water. More water may be required as the dough should be soft and moist.
5) Transfer the dough and any remaining loose flour to a flat work surface – no flour should be required.
6) Knead the dough for 10 minutes till develops a sheen and becomes springy, soft and elastic.
7) The dough needs to be lightly covered and allowed to rise until doubled in size. Either leave under an upturned bowl or in a bowl covered loosely with cling film – approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hrs at room temp or 45 minutes in a warm place.
8) Knock back the dough and knead for a further 5 minutes.
9) Shape the dough to an oblong almost 2.5cm thick, and place on a baking sheet lined with non stick baking parchment.
10) Coat with a little more olive oil and allow to rise again, loosely covered until doubled.
11) Prod the dough, dimpling with the fingertips and push rosemary sprigs into the dimples.
12) Sprinkle with salt crystals and bake for 20-25 minutes until light golden brown.
13) Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Brush with a little more olive oil whilst still hot.
We will post the other recipes from the course at a later date.