It’s always the simple things.
There’s something so impressive, so comforting and so magical about the transformative alchemy that takes place when the basics of flour, water, yeast and salt are confronted with fire. The olfactory effect of this particular Maillard reaction is also big business. Nowadays, it mugs us in both the super and the property markets. They spritz the canned scent of baguettes in the aisles and use freshly browning loaves to lasso us into buying when we attempt to climb that greasy old property pole.
However, it’s an art that’s always eluded me (with the exception of those “cheats”, no knead type affairs). So Tom Hazzeldine’s baking course in Cornwall was a bit of a revelation, to say the least. A proper hands on affair, I spent most of the day wielding big doughy paws (you weigh and mix everything yourself, and he even lets you get in there and boil your own bagels). It was so good to spend a day kneading and mixing instead of being hijacked by a screen for hours. I spent most of said day in a state of utter amazement and mystification that even my dufus hands could produce what had previously been a mystery to me. Olive and tomato rolls, baguettes, foccacia, bagels, sourdough, basic white, wholemeal – I still can’t quite believe I managed to make all of these and more. Tom (who supplies Cornwall’s Fifteen restaurant, and various other locals) is a fantastic teacher. He does away with any hard and fast rules and allows you to really get creative with the ingredients. He’s also incredibly patient and I was left feeling that it was impossible for even a dough-doubter like me to go wrong. He’s got some great tips too. For instance, I had no idea that they give away fresh yeast for nada in the bigger Asda stores or that hot water is the kiss of death for live yeast. I also learnt precisely how much oil goes into making a decent foccacia – all I’m saying is no wonder it’s so very moreish…(ahem). We stopped for a feast of a lunch, which included local salmon, pates, hummous, cold cuts, local cheeses and some stupendously good piccalilli – all perfect partners for our loaves of sourdough that had just emerged, craggy and hot from the oven.
250g Strong White Flour
750g Strong White Flour
10ml Olive oil
- Mix all the ingredients for the starter and leave for minimum 3 hours or over night in the fridge.
- The starter should have lots of bubbles on the surface. Mix this starter with the flour and olive oil from the add in.
- Combine well and knead for 10 minutes, it will be very sticky.
- After 10 minutes add the salt and sugar and knead for another 5 minutes.
- Keep going until you have something ressembling a pliable mass.
- Leave for two hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 500f
- The dough should now be double in size, shape into the required shape
- Leave for another hour. Anoint with plenty of olive oil and stick in sprigs of rosemary.
- Place dough into oven and turn down to 400f and bake for 30 minutes or 20 minutes for rolls.
- Drizzle with more oil.
Spelt Bread, Wholemeal and Malthouse
300ml warm water.
- Mix all ingredients together, remembering to separate the yeast and salt.
- Kneed for 10 minutes.
- Leave to rest for 1 hour
- Shape into it final shape prior to baking, leave in a warm place for 1 hour
- Bake for 30 –40 minutes until the bread sounds hollow at 400f
- Follow Stage 1 –4 for spelt and wholemeal bread.
- When the dough has rested for 1 hour divide into 70g and roll out into sausage shape and connect at both ends.
- Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
- Cook in boiling water for 1 minute on each side.
- When all the bagel have been boiled sprinkle seeds on them and bake for 15 –30 minutes.
It was a real tonic to smell the free-range organic air and gaze at the sea, even if it was for just two days. Along with the lovely Diana of Massey Travel, Jenny of The Lady and Julie of A Lady in London we stayed in the Bedruthan Steps hotel, where the staff were super friendly to adults and children alike. Proper green values are upheld, and deliciously herbal lavender shampoo bars stocked in the bathrooms. There’s also a very nice selection of ethically sourced teabags and shortbread by the kettle. We indulged in REN facials in the spa and were treated to a slap up tasting menu at Fifteen. It was like all my religious festivals had come at once! Listening to the sea at night had to be the biggest luxury of all. The fried chicken boxes and phlegm spattered streets of E1 seemed like an entire planetary system away…Seriously, if you’re looking for a nice post-Christmas pick me up you could do a lot worse than book yourself in. I went home literally staggering under the weight of all that bread, vowing never to waste money on one of those shop bought loaves again.
Day courses are £75 and include that sumptuous lunch.
You can read Diana’s blog post here:
book yourself onto the course here:
and learn more about Tom here: