With a dramatic increase in independent bakeries in the last five years across the UK and as our love affair with Great British Bake Off continues, the rise in professional and home artisan baking seems to be here to stay.
For over a decade we’ve been baking with award-winning baker and food writer Dan Lepard, who has inspired and taught thousands of students coming through the Cookery School doors.
Due to the mad rush to get onto our Christmas baking class we added an additional date – the 15th December, and we have a few places left!
In this class Dan teaches diverse baking techniques, how to plan your Christmas baking schedule so that it is stress and fuss free! He also talks tips and tricks on how to best spend your shopping budget. It’s a full day of learning and recipes include; cranberry and sage garlic bread; all-butter rough puff pastry; classic party sausage rolls; roast potato, thyme and onion seed boxing day bread; double chocolate babka; orange, pistachio and chocolate chip stollen bars and extra spicy ginger chestnut cookies.
We dove into the archives to find our chat with Dan about his love for baking and his first ever loaf…
Q: What is it about baking that really resonates with you?
Baking resonates with me perhaps because of way you combine relatively simple but varied basic ingredients into superbly coherent food: much like the way a band or an orchestra produces a single melody from individual notes and varied instruments. In breadmaking the results — from even more humble ingredients — can be astounding. Well, that’s the aim!
Q: Do you remember the first loaf you made? How did it turn out?
Yes, I remember my first loaf sweetly because I was so relieved that it rose, baked, and cooled to something I could eat with pleasure. But with age comes expectation: the same can be said for the effect the internet and images have had on all of us. We now expect our first attempts to be breathtaking so that sets the standards very high. If I could whisk that loaf from the past onto the table here today I probably wouldn’t be so impressed. But back then it was the spark that got me going.
Q: What do you enjoy about teaching people to bake?
I enjoy helping people understand how good science joins the steps together in a way that makes sense and makes life easier when baking. So people leave the Cookery School classes with a clear idea of what’s helpful, what’s not help, what’s nonsense, and what’s useful to their particular situation at home or work (we do get many chefs and bakers coming in to see how they can improve their breadmaking). So you can feel confident you will leave our class a much better baker.
Dan Lepard is the author of several books including The Handmade Loaf and Short & Sweet – the best of home baking, for eight years he was also the baking columnist for The Guardian. He was the judge on the first series of the Great Australian Bake Off and has written for the BBC, Sainsbury’s and Delicious magazine.