There is a Swiss proverb which is particularly apt to this post; ‘Avoid those who don’t like bread and children.’ We recently had both in abundance in a classroom above one of my favourite Cotswold bakeries. As a little pre-back to school get together a friend had organised a cookery lesson at Hobbs House Bakery in Chipping Sodbury for 10 children.
With our hands washed and aprons on, we perched on stools around the table. The flour hit the table top with a soft flumff and in swift swirly silent motion Jane, our teacher, cast the silky soft powder into a huge crater shape. An edible cauldron mixing a magical potion of salt, olive oil, brewers yeast and water although thankfully no frog legs and the only eyes belonged to the children watching. We had the chance to learn about bread making, kneading, rolling and the basic science behind it. The session was only an hour long, so we stuck to the simple stuff; breadsticks and pitta bread.
Jane made a huge batch of dough, explaining the importance of yeast and salt and the chemical reactions they produce. She divided it up and gently throwing batches round the table to each eager pair of hands. She was extremely patient explaining how to stretch and fold the dough, and how to attain the smooth consistency, almost like old chewing gum and taught the children how to roll and twist breadsticks.
While the breadsticks cooked the children rolled out their pitta breads ready for the oven. Podgy little fingers surprisingly not sticky with dough; the more they rolled and kneaded the less their hands stuck. The aroma of the freshly baked bread filled the room, making everyone hungry.
Hobbs House is a bit of a Cotswold institution. Established in the 1920’s they are a family business with five generations of baking experience. They use flour sourced locally from Shipton Mill. Their aim is to bring handmade ‘real’ bread to everyone. They encourage baking at home and run a variety of cookery courses, adults and kids, pies to pastries. It was a great way for the kids to reconnect after a long summer and everyone had fun.
The finished pitta breads were bagged up and taken home. I can confirm they were delicious, eaten with lamb and hummus for supper.