For those of you who are as passionate about the Great British Bake off as we are, you will know that bread making is one of the real tests of the season. However, through all the kneading, tears and anxiously watching dough rise, there is nothing more appealing than the waft of freshly baked bread and the taste of crisp ciabatta straight out of the oven.
The Edinburgh New Town Cookery School has long since been on my radar. Slap, bang in the middle of Edinburgh city centre, walking past the front doors of the building is enough to fill one with the hope that one day, in the not too distant future, your kitchen may be home to culinary delights that would satisfy the most fastidious of visitors.
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to have a place on the Artisan Bread Making course. Students comprised men and women of varying ages from around the globe. From a visiting food blogger from Dubai (the lovely Sandy from Ginger and Scotch) to a farmer from the Scottish borders and baking enthusiasts (such as myself) from around Scotland, the course was filled with such a range of people that the social aspect alone was hugely enjoyable.
The course is advertised as for those who have an interest in baking but would like to take it one step further. At the end of the baking day, students can take home their baking creations. (Note: One of our five bakes was entirely eaten in the car on the way home. Be warned, freshly baked bread tastes even better when you’ve made it yourself.)
During the course of the day, the group made Olive, Herb and Pecorino Breadsticks, Rosemary Focaccia, Pan D’Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread), Plaited Poppy seed loaf and Potato and Goat’s Cheese Loaf. Our tutors for the day, Colette and Julie, were kind and encouraging (immediately putting the group at ease), while managing to balance the logistics of each student’s bakes and ensuring that no question left unanswered.
We asked Colette what the most common mistake was when it came to amateur breadmaking.
“Patience. People are in such a hurry these days and bread making is something that takes time. Doing things in a rush and not allowing the dough to prove a second time is the most common mistake I see. The second prove gives a depth of flavor and a real complexity to the bread. Making your own bread should be enjoyable; I even find it quite therapeutic. Take your time and learn to enjoy each stage of the process.”
The Edinburgh New Town Cookery School runs a mixture of both amateur and professional courses, which include not only the wonderful artisan bread making course, but patisserie, Japanese cookery and the highly sought after ‘Curries of the World’ course. Details of all available can be found on the calendar. In addition, one-month cookery courses are available, as well as Vegetarian courses and childrens’ courses – ideal for a rainy day!
The Artisan Baking Course costs £155. This may sound a bit expensive, but the skills that I gained in this one day course have inspired me to bake regularly. In fact, I have set myself a challenge…not to buy any supermarket bread (which is full of unnecessary ingredients and a high quality of sugar) until Christmas. I will be sure to keep you updated and hope to share with you some of my more successful recipe attempts.
OH! Taste was very kindly invited to try the Artisan Baking Day at no charge. As with all my reviews, all my opinions are my own and a positive review was certainly not a requirement. I must say, I enjoyed the day so much that I will certainly be booking future courses with Edinburgh New Town Cookery School – and would encourage others to do the same. A fantastic day, and enough bread to fill a drawer of the freezer. Let the challenge begin!