Posted on May 08, 2017
We were delighted to welcome food blogger Girl Eats Sheffield to the School recently to take part in the Introduction to Artisan Bread Baking course. Read her blog below to learn about her experience of the course and of the new skills she picked up ...
Last Sunday, I spent the day back in the classroom; well, sort of, but it was for one of my favourite lessons ever. I was at The School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck Estate, undertaking their Introduction to Artisan Bread Baking one-day course.
Having only ever baked bread with the mechanical assistance of a bread maker, I was really excited at the prospect of learning how to bake proper bread by hand, and the course more than lived up to my expectations.
The school is set in the Welbeck Estate’s former fire stables and it was lovely to approach it by driving through the Estate and seeing it all at its best in the sunshine. I’ve vowed to return to check out more of the stunning Estate, not least the amazing-sounding farm shop.
There were 8 of us in the class, many of whom had been bought the course as a gift by loved ones- a great idea if you’re looking for a present for the foodie in your life. We were a mixed group of 5 ladies and 3 chaps, of various ages; some of us had baked bread before with mixed results, some had never really tried baking bread.
But our instructor Emmanuel Hadjiandreou put us at ease and gave me early confidence that we would all be able to achieve the perfect loaf. And by the end of the day, he had been proven right (pun intended). Everyone on the course was really friendly and we had a good chat at the start of the day, sharing tales of baking disasters and a bit about ourselves. As well as running his own bakery, Emmanuel has previously worked in baking for Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants and Daylesford Organic and has written three books about bread, so we were in great hands.
We started the day each tasked with a different ingredient to measure out for everyone’s baking. We were going to bake white, wholemeal and malt house breads.
I was on salt weighing duty and I could quickly see why Emmanuel said a decent set of scales was key to effective bread baking; when you’re trying to weigh out just 2g of dry yeast or 6g of salt, precision is key. There’s no margin for error in measuring out ingredients if you want your bake to be successful- it turns out there’s a lot of precise science involved in breadmaking that I’d never really appreciated.
There was loads to learn through the day: about different types of yeast, different flours, the milling process, different ways of proofing (including one novel method involving the free shower caps you get in hotel bathrooms!), the importance of steam in your oven when baking bread, different kneading methods and more. Emmanuel’s instruction was always really clear and there was the right amount of information on the science behind what we were doing- it never felt boring. In fact, the whole day just felt like a lot of fun! ...