Thursday, 13 April 2017

Daily Bread

One of my Christmas presents this year, a result of some pretty heavy hints from me, was a voucher for a bread making day at The White Cottage Bakery. Although I have made my own bread for many years I have only ever followed recipes in books and magazines so I was looking forward to actually learning from a pro... I wasn't to be disappointed! There were several courses to choose from but I opted for an Italian Bread Making Day... it turned out to be a wise choice.

We were welcomed to Helen's cottage in the Cambridgeshire village of Kingston with a breakfast of toast (bread homemade by Helen, of course) and homemade marmalade or jam, while Helen explained what we would be doing throughout the day. It wasn't long before the six of us on the course were getting stuck in learning how to make and handle a very wet ciabatta dough. 

While the ciabatta dough was left to prove we got to make some wild garlic pesto to use later in the day as Helen had been foraging just the day before. We then made some more dough, a pane all'olio which again was left to prove before we got around to shaping the ciabatta.

After all that hard work kneading we stopped for a coffee break... accompanied by some delicious Ricciarelli, a type of almond macaroon that originate from 14th centuary Siena, again made by Helen of course!

It was then back to work shaping the pane all'olio - some was left to prove in tins ready to become Focaccia, the remaining dough was rolled out and covered in a variety of toppings... wild garlic pesto and pinenuts...

Slow dried tomatoes, marinaded garlic and basil...

Peppers, olives, cheese and basil.

These were then cut and twisted to make a variety of filled and shaped doughs.

They all look so good and the wonderful  aromas filling the kitchen were absolutely mouth watering !

With all our breads made and shaped and ready to bake we then got around to making our lunch. Helen had prepared some pizza dough for us which she then showed us how to shape into perfect circles. We each got to cover our our own  pizza with our choice of toppings. Peppers, mushrooms, tomato, olives, pesto and plenty of mozzerella for me.

Others chose to add Italian meats to their pizza toppings.

It was fabulous pizza...

Together with salad prepared by Helen's husband Mark who had looked after us at all of our breaks, it made a wonderful lunch, which we ate while our breads baked.

And these were the amazing breads we all made during the day.

Fantasic focaccia topped with pesto or rosemary and sea salt, soaked in fruity olive oil.

Wonderful pillowy ciabatta...

A lots of lovely filled pockets and twists...

All of which we got to take home at the end of the day. It was a brilliant day, I learned loads and as an added bonus I've a freezer full of fabulous homemade bread. Not only that it's another sixty x sixty ambition realised as I've always wanted to learn to make bread properly.

I can certainly recommend a day learning to make bread with Helen, who is a great teacher and very generous with her knowledge. And as for me I will be putting my newly learned skills into practise and I can't wait to go back for a day learning more bread making techniques... sourdough next I think, although French breads... or maybe even sweet doughs also sound tempting. Maybe all three!


  1. Helen's breadmaking courses at White Cottage Bakery are the best. I took the French course and hope to do the Italian one. Everything you made looks delicious!

    1. I think it was your review of the French bread making that made me want to do the course Pina. I can definitely recommend the Italian breads.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful write up, Gina. The Italian workshop is always such a vibrant and lively affair and this particular one was loads of fun - I think 3 of your fellow students were 'returnees' from previous workshops - with such a friendly bunch of people it means we all get to have a good time - especially me! So thank you!

  3. That must have been such a rewarding day - the breads and pizzas all look very professional and delicious, and as usual your post makes my mouth water.

  4. Oh my, that sounds wonderful, the only thing better than bread is Italian bread!!

  5. It all looks amazing and I'm sure it tastes fabulous too.

  6. Looks like a brilliant day, glad you had such a good time. Sounds like you were well fed too! CJ xx

  7. I have serious Italian bread making envy this morning! How fabulous, a whole day of baking and savouring your makes. Have a lovely Easter weekend. x

  8. Wow! They all look amazing. I'm sure thy taste amazing too.

  9. What an amazing array of delicious looking bread. There's nothing like hands on learning from an expert.

  10. All I can say is YUM! It all looks and sounds divine and another one crossed off the list.


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