Last Saturday saw me taking my first class at Acton Scott Museum. I was joined by eight lovely students for a day of bread making.
Here they all are doing a fold of their spelt/ wholemeal dough. We kept ourselves very busy. We made a wholemeal or spelt dough and shaped it into a tin, an olive oil dough that we shaped into a fougasse or a focaccia and a white dough that we shaped into a boule and proved in a banneton.
The highlight of the day was cooking our white loaves in the Bailiff’s cottage’s bread oven. Mike, the Bailiff, had lit the wood fired bread oven and made it ready for our loaves. It was fascinating being able to step back in time and cook our loaves the traditional way.
Whilst we waited for the loaves to cook it gave us all a chance to have a wander around the farm yard and coo over all the new babies that had recently arrived. There was a litter of nine day-old Tamworth pigs, some week to ten day-old calves and some very adorable chicks. The working horses are always worth a look and I never miss the opportunity to steal a glance at Dusty the Donkey (if only he fitted into the back of my car…).
Acton Scott is a working farm museum following the farming methods of the Victorians and is well worth a visit if you find yourself in Shropshire.
I am looking forward to my next couple of courses there, Home Dairying on 25th June and Sweet Doughs on 24th September.
Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre launched their spring cookery courses on Saturday. The centre, in Craven Arms, South Shropshire is introducing a range of cookery courses, including Asian, Cajun Carribbean and International Cuisines courses.
Saturday was a chance to showcase all of the courses. The centre was buzzing with people visiting the farmer’s market, the craft fair, the centre’s cafe and the secret hills exhibition. I did a half-hour demonstration of how a basic white dough can be shaped into a wide range of different breads. I shaped fougasse, focaccia, turkish pide, a round loaf, a batard, a cottage loaf and a braid. I baked the fougasse so that the crowd could sample some of it. The demonstration flew by in the blink of an eye.
Outside it was dull, windy and raining. In other words, the weather was perfect for spending a day inside a warm kitchen baking bread. We started the day with a cup of tea and a piece of cake, apple or ginger, in case you are interested. Then we got to work, we used the folding method to make a spelt loaf and then the kneading method to make an olive oil dough which was crafted into focaccia and fougasse. We also made an enriched dough to make Shropshire butter buns, chelsea buns and iced fingers and I demonstrated how easy it is to make tortillas. We enjoyed a delicious lunch in the glass room, admiring the weather from the comfort of our warm room. All in all it was a lovely day.
I did what I usually do and forgot to take photos of the breads we had made. Luckily for me, the students hadn’t. The photos below are theirs showing the results of their day’s work. They got to take all of this home to share with their friends and family.
The bread made by the three students
The breads made and taken home by Christopher