Early last Monday I set of on a rather big adventure, when I say early Im talking a 3.30am leaving the house kind of early!
...and for what mad reason would anyone want to leave their cosy bed and sit on an empty train I hear you ask?
Why to be taught by the best baker in the world, Mr Tom Herbert from the Fabulous Baker Brothers at the Hobbs House Bakery School!
It all started by these two lovely peeps, Lou and Dan.
Last January they set a challenge to see if they could make one loaf of bread per week for a year, write about their process on blogs, Instagram and Twitter.
Thus #52loavesproject was born.
Being an avid cook and having grown up on my mothers homemade bread I decided to join in with challenge, along with a few other bloggers.
Then Emma kindly arranged a chance for us all to meet up and meet the fabulous and very charming Tom!
The day started with Tom explaining exactly what equipment should be used....
...including his trademark red Hobbs House Bakery dough scraper, I shall treasure mine just like my fathers pottery kidney tool!
We then went on to the ingredients for a basic white loaf, it was at this stage I learnt where I had been going wrong.
1) don't be a flour floozy (stick to one GOOD flour)
2) Use fresh yeast if you can
3) NO sugar!
Another good tip is to keep the salt separate from the yeast!
Toms passion for bread making even showed in the simple use of his hands...
....I believe you can always tell a good craftsman by their hands!
Pleasing and therapeutic!
It was our turn next.......we split into groups and each took it in turns measuring the ingredients on very precise (and snazzy!) digital scales.
Kneading the dough for at least 15mins gave us a chance to discuss various topics to do with bread.....
We also got to make some amazing Spelt Sodabread, butter and delicious looking sour cherry and dark chocolate hot cross buns.....
... with our dough prooving next to a warm open fire we were treated to the most delicious lunch with Hobbs House ham, pork pies and the best scotch eggs I have ever had!
Suitably fed we returned to the dough to see how well it had risen...
....and just how stretchy it can get, all adding to a good flavour!
Then it was onto how you can shape the dough using simply and quick techniques for rolls to loaves (another good tip, weigh your dough!)....
...and even the humble pitta (which can also be used as a smoke ring tool if you are ever stuck in the wilderness as Tom demonstrates!)
I really didn't want the day to end, it was an amazing adventure, a privilege to be taught by Tom, to be made so welcome by his family and all the team at Hobbs House.
Their enthusiasm for keeping food real and honest will carry on for generations and spread....
...the #52loavesproject team will certainly make sure of that!
p.s. We also got to take home some of the Hobbs House 59 year old family Sourdough Starter.....now thats a challenge!