I recently learned how to make bread with the expert instruction of Danielle from Severn Bites and now I’m hooked!They say food tastes better when someone else makes it, which is why I prefer to eat it rather than make it. But I swapped napkin for apron on an introduction to bread making course, and in half a day, went from kitchen disaster to bread baker.
The population is increasingly becoming health conscious, and more of us are becoming mindful of what we’re putting in our mouths. Wouldn’t we all love to have the time to grow our own veg in a perfectly manicured garden, and know how to make bread hot and fresh ready for a Sunday morning.
Well, I’m here to tell you that at least one of those things is achievable – especially since it seems even a household staple such as bread isn’t safe from the supermarket additives. So this is my review of learning how to make bread under the expert instruction of Severn Bites.
I attended this course as the March winner for Travel Loving Family’s #WeLoveGlos competition. There was no obligation to promote the course, and all opinions are my own based on my true and honest experience.
Who is Danielle?
Danielle gave up a career in Marketing after becoming fed up of being behind a screen. As an avid baker, Danielle enrolled on a croissant-making course with Breton baker Richard Bertinet but soon realised there were extreme gaps in her baking knowledge and wanted to further understand how to make bread.
Looking for the next challenge, Danielle headed to Normandy, France under the Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) scheme – a homestay of sorts where a host provides food and accommodation to volunteers ready to give hands-on help and learn more about organic farming and sustainable ways of living.
Filled with confidence after learning to manipulate 25 kilos of dough devoid of any machinery, Danielle’s next step was in Briare, France with bakery chain Banette. In four months, she learned French bread making techniques and how to run a bakery.
Fast forward to 2016, and Danielle relocated from Edinburgh to Gloucestershire and continued teaching adults, children and chefs the art of bread making from her Gloucestershire home.
How to Make Bread the French Way
The course began at 11am prompt, arriving a little earlier than planned to the Gloucestershire home we settled into the cosy living room with a cuppa until Danielle was ready and the three other ‘students’ arrived.
After a quick introduction, it was straight in.
It’s worth noting here that Danielle had completed a lot of the leg work before our arrival, and all of the dough that we used was freshly prepared that morning. The focus was on the physical techniques of preparing the dough, rather than the creation of the dough itself.
You will be given full recipes to take home at the end of the workshop, including the instructions for preparing the dough at home.
How to Make Bread – Hot Cross Buns
While Danielle does usually run a separate Hot Cross Bun workshop seasonally, it was decided that we would begin with the spring treat being so close to the Easter break.
I shan’t tell you much about the process because, well, that’s Danielle’s job however I can illustrate it to you in photographs. I was so proud of my work, I couldn’t resist some sticky-fingered photographs and these were the results.
How to Make Bread – Fougasse
This was one of the easier breads to prepare, which mostly involved showing it who’s boss and moulding it into the triangle shape, failing to make it look like a leaf with slits and then glazing it with olive oil.
A Spot of Lunch
While the hot cross buns, fougasse and the white loaf dough were proving, it was time for a spot of lunch. Homemade vegetarian soup with – of course – freshly baked bread. I may or may not have had a second helping…
How to Make Bread – White Loaf
For the white loaf, after we learned the techniques for moulding the dough, we could elicit some kind of creativity for the white loaf in the choice of cutting patterns on the top of the dough. As you can see, I went pretty wild.
Many of Danielle’s techniques for how to make bread at home involve using items and methods available in the standard home kitchen – with the exception of a bread oven which is used to help the workshop run smoothly – in fact, the items were proved on a try, resting on a dining table chair covered with a plastic sheet.
This is one of the elements I like most besides actually learning how to make bread, the obvious concern for general households and helping people to bake bread at home.
Of course, being in the home of a very passionate bread baker helped, with a sizeable garden complete with precision trimmed lawns and a great Herb garden – plus Henry the cat.
The Finer Details
The courses require a minimum of two people, and you’ll benefit from hands-on experience with a professional baker, learn a new skill and take home tonnes of bred to share with your friends and family.
I’ll wholeheartedly be recommending these courses to my friends and family who love to bake.