Monday, 13 March 2017

Something a Bit Special #18 Baking Bread with Dani

Danielle Ellis has recently moved to Gloucestershire from Edinburgh and she isn’t wasting any time in getting to know the local area. She’s set up a blog called Severn Bites which documents the places she’s eaten at, travelled to and recipes she has cooked up, including a rather special post on her award winning sloe gin which you can read here.

Dani is obviously one talented lady where food and drink is concerned, but her passion is in bread baking. Back in 2014, she spent quite a bit of time in France where she trained as a pro and now that she’s settled here (near Slimbridge) she is keen to get her bread baking classes up and running. To help get the word out, Dani kindly put on a class for some of us local bloggers and lured us in with the promise of loads of bread to take home and a tasty soup lunch.

Now, I don’t do much (any actually) bread baking, unless I’m on a course; mainly because I lack patience, and bread baking is all about accuracy, timings and lots and lots of patience (both in the kneading and the proving). So for me, I love attending bread baking courses, because there are no other distractions and I can mindfully bake bread. Plus, it always turns out perfect, unlike at home (where I usually knead for two minutes instead of 10).

Dani talked about the importance of being precise with the weighing of all the ingredients, using fresh yeast and varying the temperature of the water added depending on the temperature of the room and other ingredients. I’d learnt on a previous course not to add flour whilst kneading and shaping (it upsets the balance of carefully measured ingredients), and I was pleased to hear Dani shared these same thoughts.

Everything she teaches is perfect for people who want to, or already do, bake bread at home. Everything is done by hand, on a kitchen table and the only whizzy piece of machinery is the bread oven, but that’s more out of ease and the practicalities of baking lots of bread at once. There’s no reason why your conventional oven at home, won’t cook it just as well – she says!

Being at Dani’s home, the classes are small (five people max), so there’s plenty of opportunity to ask questions and find out where you’re going wrong, or where you can improve. Dani also does one-to-one tuition so you really get to grips with bread baking. To find out more about Dani’s courses and private tuition, you can click here.

After working on our bread - and bingo wings - all morning, it was time for a rest whilst the bread baked. Dani served up a delicious bowl of sweet potato soup for each of us (I need the recipe, it really was scrumptious), with a hunk of her homemade focaccia bread to dip in. And yes, I went back for seconds, of both.

Bread baked, we packed it up in our bags ready to take home. In just one morning, we’d managed to make a baguette, six bread rolls and a round loaf each. The smell in the car on the way home was gorgeous. Once home, I showed my wares to Kingsley and within half an hour, he’d wolfed down the majority of my mornings hard graft. I did however manage to salvage the bread rolls, so I’ve hidden them in the freezer where they’ll stay until we cook up a batch of soup. Unless of course, Kingsley finds the hiding place before then!

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