I love freshly baked bread and admit that I am overly reliant on my bread machine so when I had the opportunity to choose a class at the prestigious, award-winning Cambridge Cookery School, I signed up for Beginners’ Bread. The class took place at Cambridge Cookery School’s new location (on Harrison Drive, off Hills Road via Homerton College) in their stunning contemporary kitchen. The school was founded by Tine Roche and is run by Tine and business partner Liz Young, who was one of the excellent instructors at the bread making class.
I even got to have a preview of the new café/bakery, set to open on 2 November. We had our welcome tea/coffee/treats, as well as our break, in the beautifully decorated café. The Scandinavian inspired décor is functional too (I noticed power points for laptops and mobiles built into the seating). There is a rather large construction project nearby so the café/bakery will be having a very soft launch whilst they further develop their menu. However, the classes are running full speed ahead and even though I was there on a quiet Sunday, the class soon forgot about the building site outside the window and enjoyed the bright, cheery ambience.
I received a warm welcome by Liz and Jacqui. I was a bit nervous about being there on my own, but most of the participants came alone as well. It was easy to break the ice as we split into tables of four, put on our aprons and perused our recipe packs. The entire kitchen and our individual workspaces were impeccably clean. All of the equipment and ingredients required for the recipes were prepared for us and nicely organised. Everything there was of superior quality… the kitchen tools, Salter scales, Corian countertops, Neff appliances, iittala pans, KitchenAid blenders, etc. I could go on and on! I was seriously impressed and found myself mentally making a shopping list.
They made it seem effortless and I didn’t even notice that they were baking fresh bread and preparing our snacks and lunch whilst we were deeply engrossed in measuring and kneading. No detail was spared, even providing some pleasant background music whilst we worked. They made bread for our smoked salmon mousse snack, focaccia to accompany our lunch and doughnuts for dessert. The recipes for all of these were included in our recipe pack.
We made four recipes: Fennel & Caraway Seed Soda Bread, Basic White Bread, Glazed Rye Rolls and Swedish Cinnamon & Cardamom Rolls. We had our own bowls and baking pans, which we labelled, so there would be no confusion when we took our culinary creations home.
What really impressed me about the Beginners’ Bread Class was the teaching technique. We were shown how to knead the dough with plenty of time for questions, then Liz or Jacqui stopped at every table to check how we were doing and to assist. Many people adopted the slam-and-knead method for the white bread dough… very therapeutic!
“We love the way this class results in simple euphoria – so great is the joy of baking perfect bread! Our expert bakers will guide you through fresh and dried yeast, the impact of different types of flour, the secrets of rising, shaping and proving amazingly good bread.” (Official Website)
We could choose a twist and wrap technique for the cinnamon rolls, which was slightly more complicated than simply rolling. Liz totally sensed that the class needed to see the technique again and offered to stop by each table and give a one-to-one demonstration. The twist/wrap was quite easy to do after all and it became my preferred method for my rolls, as you can see in the photos.
The rye rolls could either be baked in a ball or snipped with scissors at the top. We had the choice of sprinkling poppy seeds or a mixture of sunflower/pumpkin seeds. They all came out spectacular! Well done, class!
Near the end of the class, a beautifully laid out table was set up for lunch and we were offered a glass of wine or a non-alcoholic option. This was a good opportunity to socialise with members of the class that were at other workstations.
It was a pleasant and relaxing experience, especially since I didn’t have to worry about timing my bakes in the oven. The expert instructors took care of all that for us, thereby ensuring that we got to take home perfectly turned-out loaves and rolls.
I came away with two bags filled with goodies made with my own fair hands. It was a tremendously enjoyable class! I know I forgot all my problems and stresses during the four hours I was there. I took my stash home elated, with my car smelling of freshly baked bread. All of the rolls disappeared rather quickly (Paulo ate some in the car) and I sliced the two loaves and put them in the freezer.
Tine Roche popped into the class during our break and I had the opportunity to tell her how much fun I was having. I felt like a kid on the first day of kindergarten, learning new things in a colourful and exciting environment! It’s a great activity for couples, groups or on even on your own. It makes a nice gift too! I am completely inspired to keep baking my own bread and perfecting my kneading technique.
See what takes your fancy by scrolling through the Cambridge Cookery School’s comprehensive list of classes (make sure you keep hitting “next page” at the bottom of the screen). And don’t forget, the café/bakery will be a fabulous place to eat and relax once it’s up and running. You can follow its progress on Cambridge Cookery School’s blog!
Tine Roche of the Cambridge Cookery School kindly invited me to attend a class and I chose Beginners’ Bread. I was by no means obligated to write about it but decided to share the experience in a written review. Although the class was complimentary, all views are my own. I did not receive compensation for my review.
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