Get thyself on a Bread 2 Bake course!
April 22, 2014
Rob Swift runs the Bread 2 Bake school and is one half of the fifth generation of the Swift family at Swift’s Bakeries, and he’s an all out natural at it. Comfortable, friendly and relaxed he effortlessly guides students from start to finish through various different breads that they make entirely themselves, explaining a little of the science behind it as you go along. Plenty of easy to digest information on techniques, different doughs, flours, gluten, yeasts, fats, salt, liquids and proving temperatures etc. Rob’s obviously deeply passionate about his bread-making and has a mountain of bready knowledge he’s happy to share, however basic your enquiry, ahem. I’d imagine that what he doesn’t know about bread-making is probably not worth knowing.
I was utterly delighted to recently attend Rob’s Italian bread-making day and we made Ciabatta, Focaccia and Stromboli and lots of it, all of which we excitedly got to take away and enjoy at home. And left me feeling like a proper Italian mama, both in capabilities and waist size. Pure undisturbed pleasure from 8.30 (well it would have been if I’d made it on time!) to 4.30 immersed in the fantastical and captivating world of bread-making, not to forget to mention the endless mugs of refreshment and lovely lunch. I’d struggle to think of anything more relaxing, nor a day I’ve enjoyed so much in a long, long time.
As well as the Italian day Rob runs a standard one day course where you can learn about both machine and hand mixing and experiment with different flours and fermentation methods to produce a variety of breads, again all to take home. Enthusiasts could also opt for a two day course and explore longer overnight fermentations including sourdough and further develop their hand moulding skills. Rob also runs a one day French course where you can learn how to make your own croissants, baguettes and brioche.
I cannot help but think most people, even those with the smallest penchant for foodieness, would love to spend a day with Rob learning to bake the most delicious bread they’ve ever tasted let alone baked with their own fair hands. It truly is a splendid day out whether you’re a total novice or looking to improve your skill set, and as group sizes are kept very small there’s plenty of one to one time. A day or two at Bread 2 Bake would naturally make a most memorable and deeply thoughtful gift to someone special.
Incidentally if you’re not from the area Rob offers a great overnight package including local hotel and restaurant bookings. And if you’re not familiar with Ludlow then you really should acquaint yourself. It’s a beautiful medieval Shropshire town full of architectural appeal and quaintness. In recent years it’s acquired itself a well deserved reputation as being a foodie destination with a wealth of excellent local restaurants and cafes inspired by the abundance of quality local food and drink producers. It also hosts and boasts the annual and ever-growing Ludlow Food and Drink Festival which this year celebrates it’s 20th year and runs between 12th and 14th September.
Whilst I haven’t as yet put my new skills and knowledge into practice to bake my own breads at home, I’m very much looking forward to very soon and will no doubt be blogging my bready antics as I go. On a final note there were five key bread-making points I came away thinking about which I didn’t know before. Please go easy on me as I was pretty much an all out novice before the course!:
• Good bread takes a good deal longer to make then I had a clue about, there’re many resting stops between stretches and kneads to allow it to work it’s magic and then there’s obviously the proving times
• There’s a crazy amount of water that’s gradually added and the dough’s far wetter than I thought workable but it is. Just!
• You don’t need any sugar if you’re using fresh yeast, salt only
• You don’t knead the dough with any flour on the table, well at least you don’t need to, pardon the pun
• Bread dough can be proved at any temperature, even very slowly in a fridge overnight