Now that I’m living by myself I really want to get back into baking. My current oven only seems to have two temperatures though: 1. Under bake and 2. Obliterate. I decided to treat myself to a brand spanking new one but it got delivered on Monday and then didn’t blinking well fit – boo! The service engineer was brilliant though and told me exactly what to look for when I shop for another one in the New Year sales.
I blame my sudden obsession with buying a new oven on Currys PC World! They recently ran a bread making masterclass at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School, Westfield and whilst there I got to road test Hotpoint’s latest ovens. Their customer research had found that people’s number one frustration with oven performance is an uneven bake due to temperatures varying by up to 15 degrees within the oven. Hotpoint’s new ovens offer Multiflow technology to regulate the temperature and give you far better results. After making all sorts of delicious breads at the cookery school and seeing how perfectly each and every one turned out I immediately shifted ‘oven’ to the top of my things to buy for the house list.
But enough about ovens… let me tell you all about the class as it was delicious, educational and a tonne of fun to boot!
Our lovely cookery teacher Gabby talked us through the basic ingredients and techniques needed to make bread.
All you need as a starting point is flour, water and yeast. Your aim when making bread is to develop a web of gluten strands in the dough as these hold pockets of air which create the right structure and texture. If you can pick up a good bread flour this will work even better than a normal all purpose one as it contains extra protein to help the gluten forming process along.
If you’re making something a bit more adventurous like focaccia (more on that in a bit) you’ll add in some extra ingredients too like sea salt and oil.
I was next to Chloe at the workstations and we might have been the naughty children in the class!
We spent a fair bit of time laughing and messing about with the dough and then taking a million pictures (because if it isn’t on instagram it clearly didn’t happen) instead of paying full attention to what we should have been doing. It didn’t matter though, as our Cookery School Teachers were on hand to remind us of the steps and help us judge whether our dough was under or over proofed at all.
A lot of the bloggers in the class hadn’t made bread before, but I have a KMix at home with a dough hook so I’ve had a few goes at a tin loaf in the past and love to make focaccia. I haven’t kneaded by hand in ages though so I got some good exercise working the dough. You really need to keep going for about 10 minutes which seems a very long time but is worth it for the final result.
Once your dough is kneaded, you need to let it proof in a warm dry spot until it has doubled in size, then you knock all the air out, add any extra ingredients, shape it and then once again leave it to prove until doubled in size before cooking your bread.
On the day we learned how to make 3 different types of bread and got to experiment with different methods to shape them too. We started out making crusty white rolls which we hand shaped into miniature loaves, plaits and balls. (One of mine looked like Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo but let’s gloss over that).
Then we made a brown bread using wholemeal flour, but this time after the first proof we knocked it back and then patted the bread out into a flat, rectangular shape. We spread a filling over then rolled it up like a swiss roll, joining the two ends together….and voila – you end up with a filled circular loaf!
I loved learning how to do this one. It’s so easy to do once you know how to shape it and yet looks like you’ve made a real effort. You can go for any filling you like as well – pesto, walnuts and caramelised onion, cheese… the list is endless. Here’s what it looks like once cooked and sliced.
Finally we made focaccia. This is my favourite bread to make at home as it smells incredible when baking and is heavenly served still warm with some balsamic vinegar and oil to dip it in. I think I’m going to share a recipe for it in a seperate post between Christmas and New Year because then I get to make it and eat it again!
…after all our baking we got to enjoy the fruits of our labour, dipping our crusty rolls into a gorgeous cheesy fondue and seasonal pumpkin soup. The perfect end to a perfect foodie day!
Thanks go to Joe Blogs, Currys PC World, Hotpoint and The Jamie Oliver Cookery School for putting on such a wonderful event. My colleagues enjoyed the focaccia at work the next day and say thanks too!
If someone is stuck for a Christmas present to buy you, I recommend dropping some hints about going to a cookery school… they are great fun and you learn so much.
If you’d like to read more about Hotpoint’s latest oven range, click here.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored but the cookery class was complimentary, as was the delicious food.