Harborne Food School

Good news for bread lovers that live closer to Birmingham than Shropshire… In 2018 I will be running four bread classes at Harborne Food School in Birmingham.

Harborne Food School

Harborne Food School is based in the Clocktower building on Harborne’s High Street.  The School Yard, as it is known, is an imposing Grade II building built around a courtyard.  The Food School is part of a complex of restaurant, cafes, the food school and apartments on the bustling Harborne High Street. The Food School has impressive facilities, offering space for twelve students.

Harborne food school facilities

You can find out more about the upcoming courses by looking at the dedicated page on here or by visiting the Food School’s website.  The Food School offers a wide range of cookery courses throughout the year, so it’s worth a look to see if there is another course that takes your fancy.

 

 

This is why I love my job…

komo mill and bread books

The photo above shows the dining table in Veg Patch Kitchen piled with some of the things I love about my job. The list of things I love about this job is long… and includes at the very top these things:

I love meeting new people
I love talking with (and at) people
I love teaching people that it is easy to make bread at home and then hearing from them, that yes it is and that they too are now addicted to making bread
I love feeding people

But as well as these things, teaching people to make bread making feeds my obsessions with reading and research. The books on the table are only a selection of my bread library – I have to keep buying bookshelves.  I have always loved research, the finding out of new things and trying to know everything that there is to know about a subject.  Bread making, whilst it is something that is easy to do at home once you have a grasp of the basics, is also something that you never stop learning about.  You will always have something new happen to your loaf, you will (occasionally) continue to have disasters in the form of frisbee  loaves (they will still taste good though).

My biggest investment in book form was the Raymond Calvel, The Taste of Bread. This is regarded as one of the definitive books on French bread. But, I have to say that if you have read some of the other books on the table (Hamelman and Reinhart, for example) you will already have a firm grasp of Calvel’s theories of bread making and the importance of autolyse (resting time after mixing so that the flour can fully absorb the water) for a good loaf.

There are a couple of books not in this photo that are worth a mention for their influence on my bread making. This journey towards setting up Veg Patch Kitchen would not have happened without Daniel Stevens’ River Cottage Handbook on Bread.  This book with its easy to follow recipes that always work were the inspiration I needed when I was making bricks of bread. James Morton’s Brilliant Bread is another book that I would recommend for those starting out on their bread journey for its interesting recipes that always work.

But if you want to start with sourdough then have a read of Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and Ken Forkish’s Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.  These will both guide you through the fundamentals to make a good sourdough loaf.

In amongst the books in the photo above is my Komo grain mill and this item is something that is driving me to do more theoretical and practical research. Using freshly milled grain is different to using flour that was milled several weeks before. The flavour is more pronounced, there has been no time for degradation of the nutrients and, more importantly it mixes differently, it feels different and it responds to fermentation differently. It makes wonderful bread. I am loving the experiments with it and showing the difference between freshly milled flour and bagged flour to my students.

For as long as I remember I have relaxed by reading recipe books. When I was a child it was my mum’s copy of The Dairy Book of Family Cookery that absorbed me, now I have my own copy and my own dinner and tea set of the crockery I fell in love with on page 263 when I was about nine years old (thanks Mum and Dad). I didn’t imagine back then that my love of reading recipe books that would lead to a passion and a career.

 

Ludlow Food Festival

I was invited by Wot’s Cooking to join them on their Talks and Tastings stage at this year’s food festival at Ludlow. The Talks and Tastings was a more intimate affair than the larger chef demo stages, helping the audience to get a bit closer to the action.

The setting couldn’t have been better.

Talks and Tasting stage Ludlow Food Festival

Ludlow Castle is wonderful and if you haven’t visited before and get the chance make sure you take the opportunity. It has wonderful little rooms like this one, which once you pass through that magical door is rather majestic inside. I doubt when it was used as a castle is was quite as majestic as it is now, it was probably poky, smelly, dirty and cold in there, but now, now it is majestic.

Inside were tables and chairs for about thirty people and a small stage up front for the speaker. When I arrived on the Friday I managed to catch some of the talk by the cheese monger from Ludlow Food Centre. He had bought a whole wheel of delicious cheese, which at the end of his interesting talk he used a very large knife to crack open to share samples.

While I waited for my turn on the stage I took a walk around the festival site within the castle walls.  I haven’t been for a few years.  Several years ago I judged the Sausage Trail for a couple of years, but it usually clashes with my eldest daughter’s birthday celebrations so it is a festival we normally miss out on.  I was impressed by how many improvements had taken place.  The flow through the stalls was much better than previous years and there are now several stages of varying sizes where you can take a pew and watch chefs and local food producers doing their thing.  There is certainly plenty to see and do.  I nipped into the Castle tearooms for a quick cup of tea before strolling back to the Talks and Tastings and managed to catch most of the talk by Our Lizzie.  She specialises in teaching vegetarian and vegan food and her quinoa dish sounded delicious, unfortunately I missed out on one of the tasting pots that were handed around.

My talks and tasting was, of course, all about bread making and an attempt to help others catch the bread making bug. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope I spread the bread love.

Jon was managing the stage and took this photo of me in action – one day I hope to be photogenic…

Kath Veg Patch Kitchen

Bread basics full day course

If you join us on an all day Bread basics course you will enjoy a whole day devoted to the art of bread making. There will also be plenty of stops for tea or coffee and a delicious lunch too. We normally fit in at least three different breads, including a focaccia, a wholemeal or spelt and a flavoured loaf. I like to tailor each class to the interests of the participants, which is easy to do when there is a maximum of four people in each class.

These are the loaves made on last Saturday’s course. We made spelt loaves using 50% white spelt and 50% wholemeal spelt, a wholemeal loaf with 50% freshly milled Shropshire Soissons grain and 50% stoneground wholemeal from Shipton Mill, a white dough using Shipton Mill Baker’s White which we made into focaccia and a flavoured granary loaf using tomato paste or marmite as the flavour base with 50% white flour, 50% wholemeal and some malted cut rye and Shipton Mill’s Five Seed Blend. selection of loaves made on a bread basics course

A full-day course gives us plenty of time for in-depth conversations about the bread making process and we discuss the use of different yeasts (easy bake, dried active and fresh), the role salt plays in bread making, the consistency of different doughs for a successful loaf, shaping and the importance of getting a good tension when shaping, getting the best out of your oven and lots, lots more.

I love using my Komo grain mill during courses so I can share the flavour impact that freshly milled flour has. I use grain grown in fields in Shropshire and Cheshire.

Komo grain mill

There is a bookshelf crammed with books about breads, so you can browse these over a cup of tea.

Bread library

You take home all of the breads that you have made, a booklet that contains over 20 pages of advice, tips and recipes and a scraper and 10% discount voucher from Bakery Bits.

Booklet and scraper

If you would like to book a place on a future course visit the Ironbridge courses page to see the dates of future courses. I am also very happy to arrange a full-day or evening course for two or more people on a mutually convenient date if there isn’t a date listed that suits you. Feel free to get in touch.

 

Cosford Food Festival Chef Demo stage

The latest festival appearance for Veg Patch Kitchen was at Cosford Food Festival.  I was on the Chef Demo Stage showing the audience how easy it is to make bread at home and sharing my bread making tips. I was with the lovely Wot’s Cooking team again. Here are action shots of me and Mike. I am hoping the expressions show my passion for my subject….

 

I love doing these demonstrations, they are a great chance to share my passion for bread.

My next festival is Ludlow on Friday 8th September. I will be sharing my love of bread at 3pm. I would love it if you came along and said hello.

Kath x

The Great British Food Festival

I was invited to do a chef demo with the Wot’s Cooking team at The Great British Food Festival at Weston Park on Sunday 28th May.  I hope my passion for real bread shone through and convinced at least some of the audience that making bread at home is doable and reaps rich rewards.

Here are some action shots of me doing my thing.

Weston Park Food Festival Great British Food Festival

Chef demos Katie and Kath having a chat

Chef demo

I had a great time and I got to meet the very lovely Howard Middleton of Bake Off fame who was on after me. What a lovely chap!

Grow Local

Breads at Grow Local

The table of goodies at Grow Local

On Sunday, Veg Patch Kitchen spent the day at The Greenwood Centre in Ironbridge at the annual Grow Local event run by Transition Town Telford. It’s a lovely community day, with lots of plants available to buy from local growers or you can take your garden tools to be sharpened and experience how to look after chickens in your garden. I had been invited to have a stall to promote Veg Patch Kitchen as a local business and shared a space in the barn with Taste Not Waste and Molly’s Vegetarian Kitchen. Taste Not Waste takes surplus food from local supermarkets and sells it cheaply to encourage people to eat healthily whilst avoiding food waste. Molly, of Molly’s Vegetarian Kitchen has recently set up her catering business providing vegetarian food for events or to eat at home.

It was a great event, busy with local folk buying plants and enjoying the sunshine. It was the first time I have baked bread to sell and it’s quite a different experience from teaching people to make bread. I took along white sourdoughs, brown sourdoughs using freshly milled Shropshire Soissons grain (milled with my Komo mill), focaccia, Chelsea buns and Shropshire butter buns. I had sliced a loaf or two as samples and we sold out. I later had texts and tweets to tell me how much the buns and the bread were enjoyed. It was a great day and I loved the experience.

Review of our bread making day in Clun

We always strive to make sure that your day with us at Veg Patch Kitchen is enjoyable, fun and informative and I really love getting emails, messages and Facebook reviews that confirm that we are delivering just that. Annabelle from Hundred House Coffee joined us for a day of bread making at my sister’s house in Clun and enjoyed her day so much that she wrote a review about it on her blog.  You can read about it here.

Annabelle bought along some of the coffee that she and her partner Matthew roast at their micro-roastery in the Shropshire Hills and it was so good that I have subscribed to their delivery service so that we can enjoy their coffee at future bread making courses.  One of the many good things about running a local business is supporting other local businesses.

New sourdough course for 2017

Veg Patch Kitchen has been running bread making courses for two years now. We started in Leena’s house in Clun in January 2015. We introduced evening classes at the local village hall later that year and now, since July 2016, we have our very own purpose built kitchen that most of the courses run from in the very beautiful location of Ironbridge.

It has been an amazing two years, meeting lots of lovely and interesting people along the way and inspiring many of those to make bread making part of their daily or weekly routine. The rest, I hope, enjoy bread making as an occasional but very enjoyable part of their very busy lives.

It feels the right time now to introduce a sourdough course into the mix of available courses. The new course is for those that have always wanted to make their own sourdough bread but are a bit uncertain about how to make a start or how to fit it into their routine. It is also suitable for those that have perhaps tried to get going with sourdough but have fell at the first hurdle. The course is designed to show you how easy making a very good sourdough loaf can be and how this delicious and nutritious bread can be fitted into your daily, weekly or fortnightly routine. Making sourdough can suit everyone, it’s just a matter of seeing how.

For those of you wondering what sourdough is, it is a bread raised by wild yeasts rather than by the yeast that you can buy from your nearest shop. The wild yeasts are all around us, in the air, in the flour. All they need is time.  Very little commitment is needed from you, a few minutes here and there during the day and you can have a wonderful loaf of bread that is full of goodness and reported to be easier to digest than breads made with shop bought yeast.

So if you want to delve into the world of sourdough and find out how to fit bread making into your routine take a look at the Ironbridge Courses page to find out more and book yourself a place on our next course.

Bread & Butter

We had a really successful bread and butter course on Wednesday at Ironbridge. The room was set up for the four course participants and we had a busy and fun evening of bread making and butter churning.

Ready for pizzas

  Ready for pizzas

Bowls at the ready

Bowls at the ready

We made a wholemeal wheat or spelt dough using the folding method, a white dough, kneaded on the table. We shaped these into bannetons, tins or focaccia and baked them off ready for the participants to take home with them. They all turned out beautifully.

White, wholemeal, spelt and focaccia loaves made by the participants.

White, wholemeal, spelt and focaccia loaves made by the participants.

We churned some cream into butter to finish the evening off.

I received some lovely comments from the course participants:

“It was a really great evening Kath, thank you, already had a taste of the bread and butter for supper .. Lovely.  Thanks again for a really lovely evening….. Definitely going to do more bread baking, you have really inspired us..going to take some to a team meeting tomorrow for a tasting session.”
“Thank you so much for a lovely evening. I had a great time and am looking forward to trying the recipes again – hopefully with the same success as last night.”