GUEST BLOG: Back to bake

By guest blogger SIOBHAN KELLY

We kicked off the autumn programme of Cracking Good Food classes on Saturday with our four-hour Breaking Bread session at our Chorlton cookery school. The group of 11 each made an organic loaf, then paired up to make focaccia with sundried tomatoes, red onion, black olives, rock salt and herbs, and finally some garlic naan breads.

The first job was to make a dough for the loaves with a mix of flours and different yeasts, which Cracking Cook and expert baker Rob Tomlinson explained. The dough was put to one side to rise in the warm kitchen environment as the group got on with the other breads.

Co-ordinator and volunteer Claire was in charge of lunch and cracked on with preparing the pizza dough plus toppings of red peppers, anchovies, mushrooms, fresh chillies, black olives and grated cheese. The pizza sauce was made from scratch using red onions, garlic, diced apple, bouillon powder, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, fresh garlic and salt, and left on a low heat to reduce. The participants enjoyed a few slices of pizza as their lunch today and were given the recipe for pizza dough (and all the other breads) at the end of the session, so they could try making it themselves at home.

While Claire busied herself with the pizzas, the participants made focaccia dough. This was left to rise for a short while then it was rolled out, sprinkled with chopped, sundried tomatoes and olives, folded over then left to rise again.  After it was rolled for the second time, it was sprinkled with sliced red onions, rosemary, olive oil and sea salt, and put it in the oven. Cheese can also be added on top towards the end of the cooking time.  

The garlic paste for the naan is made by crushing garlic and salt together – it’s as simple and quick as that – then it’s added to the flour mix. Yoghurt is heated in a pan and used instead of water to make the dough. The mixture is rolled out after it has risen and fried in a pan of oil. It’s delicious eaten with houmous or other dips and of course curry dishes.

So it was another busy, but rewarding, morning in the kitchen with new skills learnt, a wealth of knowledge shared by Rob and everyone enjoying the communal cooking and eating experience.  Recipe sheets were handed out at the end of the session so the love of breadmaking can continue at home.

We currently run two different breadmaking classes in three locations: Chorlton, Prestwich and Flixton. There are lots more of the four-hour Breaking Bread sessions in Chorlton (£60) coming up along with the extended six-hour Our Daily Bread classes in Flixton and Prestwich (at the new, lower price of £80). The six-hour sessions include an introduction to sourdough and a free sourdough starter, plus a 26-page colour booklet, Best Thing Since Sliced Bread, full of information, tips and recipes from our resident artisan breadmaker Rob TomlinsonBoth Breaking Bread and Our Daily Bread are suitable for beginners or people who want to get more out of their breadmaking, and all our classes teach skills which can be practised at home using simple, non-specialist equipment. We now have a dedicated breadmaking page on the website – to view click here.

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