bread making at Hobbs House

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Making bread has always been my achilles heel in the kitchen. When it comes to cakes, I am pretty confident that I know what I’m doing, and my bakes usually turn out well, aside from the occasional disaster when I get distracted, take the kids to the playground and forget to take the cake out the oven (oops!). Bread seems so much more mysterious- the quantities of yeast, the temperatures, the timings, the consistency of the dough…I have never managed to master even the simplest of loaves. This year, however, all that is about to change, thanks to the #52loavesproject and to Hobbs House.

If you follow me on Instagram, or on Twitter, you will have seen a steady stream of home-baked loaves appearing in my feed since the beginning of the year. In January, my friend Lou, and her partner Dan had the brilliant idea of starting a bread-making project. The idea was to bake a loaf a week and to share it via Instagram- they called it the #52loavesproject. It was exactly the nudge that I needed, and I started experimenting with making bread…with very mixed success!

Luckily for me, Tom Herbert, of Hobbs House (and Fabulous Baker Boys fame!) discovered the #52loavesproject, and he invited some of the participants to a bread making masterclass at the Hobbs House Cookery School.

It was absolutely the loveliest way to spend a Monday morning. The Cookery School, above the Hobbs House bakery in Chipping Sodbury, is a gorgeous building, perfectly styled, and furnished with the equipment shelves of any baker’s dreams! Tom shared with us the baking knowledge of five generations, which has been handed down through the Herbert family, and he even entrusted to each of us a small pot of the family sourdough starter, which is almost sixty years old (and which I am treating with the utmost care, in the fear that I might inadvertently kill it!) We learned how to make a basic white loaf, and how to practice and perfect our recipe, making it our own. We also baked soda bread, pitta bread, and a batch of sour cherry and dark chocolate hot cross buns (yum!). Tom was a fount of baking knowledge and passion, sharing his skills and giving us all manner of tips including how not to be a flour floozy, and what place shower caps have in a baker’s kit!

I came home starry-eyed and brimming with enthusiasm, clutching my red Hobbs House dough-scraper and a flour-spattered notebook full of hastily scribbled wisdom. My sourdough starter has been fed, and housed in its own little Kilner jar, and I am planning to attempt a sourdough loaf with an overnight rise ready for Saturday’s breakfast. If you’d like to see my progress, and that of my fellow bakers, search for #52loavesproject on Instagram and Twitter. To find out more about the bread making courses with Tom, have a look at the Hobbs House Cookery School website. I honestly can’t recommend them highly enough, and being able to bake bread for my family is a life skill which I can use, develop, enjoy, and hopefully pass on to my boys. If you fancy your own red dough scraper or sourdough starter, you can buy them (plus all manner of baking equipment) from the online shop.

A huge thank you to Lou and Dan for starting the project, to Emma Bradshaw, who got us all together, and to everyone at Hobbs House, who made us incredibly welcome and sent us home after a wonderful morning with a spring in our steps and a passion for bread-making.

{ My fellow #52loavesproject bakers are:

Lou and Dan, Emma, Carolyn, Emma, Natalie, Jack and Ruby}

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  • What a fabulous day it was indeed, I am in awe of Tom’s knowledge and passion for bread, a real star too! So lovely to meet everyone as well, I reckon we knead (get it!) to meet up again soon!
    Emma x

  • I live quite near to Hobbs House Baker, and I’m a big fan of their bread, especially the rye sourdough. The course sounds fantastic, especially those hot cross buns. I’m glad you had such a good time.

  • After I managed to tear my eyes away from the first photograph (oh! To be 30 years younger, un married and able to attend a bread course hundreds of miles away!), I really enjoyed reading this post. Sounds like everyone had a fantastic day and came home full of confidence, which I am sure is half the battle with bread making! Thanks for a great post!