Adam and I went to Tideswell School of Food on Sunday, to take part in an Artisan Bread Making course. I bought Adam the experience as a Christmas gift, and I cheekily asked if I could come along too in return for a write up, which they generously agreed to. Now, I have mentioned before on here that I am a bit afraid of bread making. I used to do quite a bit as a teen (I always was a bit weird), but hardly ever make my own nowadays. I have wanted to, desperately, but I have procrastinated and skirted around recipes with the excuse that I just don’t have time. I do have a lot on, and cooking decent meals for the family is hard enough without adding this into the mix too, as it were. I recently had a few gos with my old bread machine, but it just doesn’t produce the type of bread that you buy from a good bakery – and that is the whole point isn’t it?
So, did they convince me to make my own bread? Yes they blinking well did. I am a convert. As well as teaching us how to make a basic brown and basic white loaf (that can be done in a tin or free form or as buns – see all in pic, below), and cinnamon buns (the recipe I have chosen to post here), Steph, the warm and extremely knowledgeable teacher, also let us in on her favourite way of making bread – the fold in method. Basically this is a way of making bread that I can fit in – and you can too… you simply mix together the ingredients and make a dough the night before, and let proof overnight. Then, the next day, you fold the dough in on itself – NO KNEADING REQUIRED – and proof for another hour, doing this ideally four times, slowly developing the flavour, and then whack it in the oven. OK, OK, so you need to be at home for a few hours to do the folding. And, yes, you need to measure out and mix the night before, so a bit of prep is required. But it is essentially very easy – one for the weekend if you work. But, as a limp wristed person (I do struggle with kneading) who is often at home with the children, this method is a total winner. As were the methods she taught on the day, which were more traditional in the method: mix, knead, prove, knock back, knead, prove, shape, bake. But for me, that is too time consuming for most of my days – though I am committed to trying a few variations on the basic recipes too. So I am going to leave the kneading method to the weekend, that can be Adam’s job (Steph did praise his kneading action, which he was very pleased about). I intend to dedicate a separate post about Steph’s fold in method, as I think it deserves it. Watch out for that if it appeals…
Back to the Artisan bread course… it was a small group of about no more than 10, about 6 women, the rest men, all really friendly and with various levels of baking experience. We chatted over coffee and homemade chocolate biscuits in our aprons, and then were led downstairs to the kitchen, where everyone had their own workstation. All the ingredients were laid out, with equipment too. We were to make 3 things in 3 1/2 hours (which actually turned out to be 4). Steph set us to work quickly, giving clear instructions and throwing in very good tips along the way (like, ‘whisk your dry ingredients for a good while to get the yeast activated’). People interrupted with questions and jokes, it was very informal and made for a good atmosphere. It was really physical too, we were all sweating after 5 minutes! During the lulls, we asked questions and chatted. Everyone was clearly enjoying themselves and having a jolly time. It was striking how easy it all was, how much you could achieve if you set your mind to it, with no distractions of course (that’s the hard part with kids). The most impressive bake of the day had to be the sticky cinnamon buns…
If you’re like me, you just wouldn’t normally try something like this; it’s so impressive looking that you think it’s going to be hard work. But trust me, it really isn’t. My instructions below belie the ease and simplicity so don’t be put off! What I love about it is that you could adapt it really easily and do a savoury version – I am thinking of chorizo, herbs, and parmesan next time. It would make a gorgeous house gift or picnic contribution. You could make ahead and freeze it, as we have with my one (we ate Ad’s!), then when it’s required, bring it out to defrost overnight, in the morning spray a little water on it, then refresh it in the oven (another great tip from Steph).
In summary, you should go to Tideswell School of Food. Make a holiday of it, the village is lovely, the Peak District location (only an hour’s drive from Manchester) stunning. Take your partner or a friend. Learn something useful and have fun – and bring a lot of food home too! Oh, I nearly forgot – it’s a not for profit organisation, which is worth a mention, so all proceeds get ploughed back into the community. For that reason I covered the cost of the course. Enough babbling, here’s the recipe:
To make a tear and share bun with 8 buns:
For the enriched dough:
250g white strong bread flour
4g dried fast action yeast
20g unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
For the sweet filling:
15g unsalted butter
35g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
75g raisins or sultanas
For the sticky glaze:
About 3 tbsps apricot jam
- Mix your flour, salt, dried yeast. Whisk it for a few minutes to activate the yeast.
- Add your butter and rub into flour mix, until breadcrumb like.
- Whisk milk and egg together. Add your milk mix in several locations around the bowl (another tip, to aid the mixing), and with a scraper (we bought one on the day as it was so useful), bring the dough together. If you don’t have one, use a spatula or a butter knife – or just get straight in with your hands.
- Knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board. It is a sticky dough, so you may need to shake a little more flour onto your hands and the work top. Try to do this as little as possible as, when it comes to dough, wetter is better! Yet another cracking tip from Steph!
- Rest your dough somewhere warm for 1 hour in a large bowl. Cover tightly with cling film.
- Once it has proofed and risen, remove the dough and gently knock it back. Then roll it out to a rough rectangle (it should be landscape, not portrait). About 1/2cm thick.
- Rub your brown sugar and butter into a paste with your fingers and spread over the rectangle. Sprinkle cinnamon over too.
- Roll it down, top to bottom. Stretch the last bit over and press down a little so it sticks Now, turn it over so that bit is tucked under nicely.
- Slice into 8 pieces. Place in a 20cm greased cake tin, with one in the middle, and 7 all around it, swirly side up. If you don’t have a cake tin, just put them on a baking sheet, closely together but not quite touching. They need to proof again so they will squidge together eventually.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave some place warm for 30 minutes – 1 hour for its final proof. Preheat oven to 190C.
- Place in oven for 20 -25 minutes.
- Take out and leave to rest in tin until cooled a little. Then glaze generously with apricot jam using a pastry brush. Set to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy and feel very smug in your achievement!