We are welcomed into the kitchen by Gordon, who pops his head out of the door with a “you look lost – are you here for the bread baking course?”
That we were. As I’ve said before, I am well versed in cake, in tarts and desserts. I understand them and, for the most part, they understand me. They usually do what I ask. Bread, however. Bread is a different ball game. It ignores me. Nay! It actually does the opposite of what I ask.
Like an unruly teenager, it defines my wishes and sneaks out it’s bedroom window to go and do some underage drinking. Figuratively, speaking. Out of need and necessity (and because my partner bought me it as a present), I took a days’ course on the baking – and ultimately, breaking, of bread.
We were welcomed into the bakery by the enthusiastic and welcoming Gordon, who guided us to the tea, coffee and bread on display for us to help ourselves to while we waited for the rest of the class to arrive. What followed was a humorous and relaxed introduction: the usual such as health and safety and how Loaf came to be and then it was time to begin our lesson.
I won’t go into too much detail with what we go to create, but we came away with 6 different breads and consumed a further 2 we’d made in the morning for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer quantity we created and got to take home and the variety of the breads, too. Amongst the fare were two of my favourites: Focaccia and Ciabatta. Like I said before, I do not understand bread and prior to this would not have imagined baking these two types of bread, and that’s what this day taught me most of all: do not be afraid of bread. Bread can be tricky, but if you know what to do, and why you’re doing it, then your whole thought process behind baking bread changes.
Gordon was a fantastic teacher – explaining the process behind each step, the best way to do things, the okay way to do things and the wrong way to do thing. He dispelled some myths about baking bread and all this teaching wove in and out of personal stories and funny anecdotes that helped create a relaxed, personable atmosphere. Martha – who is described as ‘hearing her before seeing her’ and Gordon bounced off one another really well and you got a great sense of the close-knit family the Loaf team are.
Loaf,as well as being a bakery that stocks a variety of homemade loaves, buns and flatbreads and an abundance of jams (pear and ginger, zomg!), offers a variety of different classes at their cookery school – everything from the Basics of Bread to Butchery. It also prides itself on giving back to, while also being supported by, the community of Stirchley, Birmingham.
So if you’re new to baking bread, or just a little inexperienced, then a course at Loaf will not only ease you in gently, but leave you feeling truly accomplished on the drive home – armed with not only several paper bags of bread, but also all the knowledge you need to continue you baking journey at home.
The Bread: Back to Basics course are £120.00 per person.
For a full list of the courses they offer, visit https://loafonline.co.uk/cookery-school/