As a coeliac, a bread making course might seem a slightly bizarre way to spend one’s time, but the idea of spending a day in the company of one half of The Fabulous Baker Brothers, was too good an opportunity to miss out on. If you have ever had the pleasure of watching the boys, Tom and Henry, on television you will already know their enthusiasm for good food is intoxicating and I can confirm that their wonderful energy carries over into real life.
Although I haven’t eaten glutenous baked goods in almost two and a half years, my husband does, my step children do and as do almost every one of my dinner guests. Therefore learning to bake bread was an essential part of my culinary repertoire that was presently severely lacking, so what better place to learn than with the lovely people of Hobbs House Cookery School in Chipping Sodbury.
About Hobbs House
Hobbs House School is situated above the award winning bakery and butchery on Chipping Sodbury high street, in what was once the Hobbs family home. It’s a beautiful house, rich in food heritage and a beacon for food lovers from across the country.
The short drive from Bristol was relatively painless, even in rush hour traffic. I arrived at 9am to the sleepy Cotswold market town of Chipping Sodbury and made my way inside the quaint bakery and was welcomed with a much needed cup of coffee.
Once all the troops had arrived from various points from across the country, we made our way upstairs to pick up our aprons and followed our teacher, Tom, into our classroom for the day which had an impressive log fire roaring away which only added to the atmosphere.
What I learnt
I never anticipated we would get through so much in a day. Tom was an excellent teacher, who had this incredible ability to make you feel at ease and fully immerse yourself in the day regardless of your experience or lack thereof. He was terribly patient and answered the many questions our group bombarded him with during the day.
We managed to be taken through, in detail I might add; sourdoughs, soda breads, challah, pita, pizza, white rolls, focaccia and breadsticks. We were also given advice on the more common white split tin loaves, rye breads, wholemeal and such. I felt as though the day was very comprehensive and there was just enough time given to every subject we covered. All in all, it was a well managed day that was ran very professionally and was most importantly a great deal of fun! We were of course able to take home our spoils of the day, much to my husbands delight.
What I took away from the day
Without giving away too much of what I got from the day and to encourage you to attend yourself, here are a few tips I picked up, some of which may be things you already know but being a bread baking virgin, I found these little gems useful.
- Getting Water Temperature is important when baking bread. Sourdough needs hot water, white loaf needs cooler water, apparently cooler than a child’s bathtub!
- The wetter, the better! It is much easier to add flour to a mix than to add water.
- Regardless of the dough size, the dough will rise the same amount and if anything the bigger the dough, the quicker it rises.
- For spiced breads, never put more spice that salt.
- If using a fan oven, only use your fan component when heating the oven up to temperature and turn it off when you put your bread in.
I have been on a number of food related courses over the years. The way in which the whole team at Hobbs House make you feel when you are with them is incredible. They are just the most delightful group of people to be around, so friendly, positive and helpful. I would recommend anyone with an interest in baking to take a look at their courses. In my opinion there cannot possibly be a better place to learn this craft.
Tom Herbert and the team at Hobbs House are true artisans and I for one am so pleased to have taken a part of that passion they have, away with me today.
Name of Course: Bread Making Masterclass
Tutor: Tom Herbert
Date of course: 11th September 2013
Have you been on this course yourself, do you agree? Have you been thinking about attending this course? Let me know in the comments below.