Now, I am by no means a baking expert, but it is something I enjoy doing, more so than cooking. I’m a big foodie, but when it comes to actually making the food, my skills are a little subpar, shall we say, but pass me the flour and sugar (and eggs, butter etc. etc.) and I’m your girl.
I would have to say that bread is a food group in itself for me – I love it! Whether it’s a sourdough for my eggs on the weekend or a barm for a sandwich in the week, I would happily eat bread at least once a day, and the more bizarre the better.
I was very kindly invited down to One Mile Bakery in Hale, near to where I grew up by the lovely Matt who had just started his cookery classes from his home. I brought Jordan along with me, and my blogger friend Keeley was also there, which was a nice surprise.
The premise behind One Mile Bakery is that you can have freshly baked bread (and preserves, soups and chutneys) delivered to your house if you are in the one-mile radius. The concept was started by Elisabeth Mahoney, an ex-journalist living in Cardiff, who wanted to quit her day job and do something related to the incredible world of food instead of just writing about it. Instead of building her own bakery brand and renting a space to do so, Elisabeth thought it would be best to start the business from her own kitchen, deliver locally and produce a delicious loaf with a few tasty extras – and thus, One Mile Bakery was born.
Fast forward to 2012 and the business began.
Following on from the success of the idea, classes were the next offering, which were met with a tremendous uptake, and now over 2000 people have been taught the basics of baking by Elisabeth herself. The next logical step was to branch out into other areas of the U.K. and help passionate foodies take the next step into launching their own business… and here we are today.
We arrived at 10:30 am at Matt’s beautiful home and had a brew whilst chatting about what would happen throughout the day. He took us through to the kitchen where we were all spaced around his island and started to talk about the different flours and yeast that we would be using in our bakes and how the day was going to go.
We started off by talking about our baking history, which didn’t last long when it came to my turn. I’ve only baked bread once and I cheated and used a bread making machine – a total no no if you want a bakery-standard loaf.
I really liked the fact that there was only 3 of us in the group as it meant that Matt was keeping an eye on what we were doing, and was there to answer any questions that we had.
The first loaf we made used a full white bread flour and fresh yeast and was a tin loaf. Matt had very kindly weighed out everything we needed and it was ready in our bowl. The whole process was so straightforward and only required water, a pinch of salt, the flour and the yeast.
Once we mixed everything together, it made a dough that we kneaded on the kitchen island for about 10 minutes to build up the gluten bonds. We then left it to prove for 30 minutes whilst we moved onto our second one.
The second loaf we made was a mixture of white and wholemeal flour, but was made in the same way. We were encouraged to use nuts, seeds and berries in this one to make it a bit different.
I decided to use dates and raisins in my one, and Jordan went for pine nuts. I’m a bit fan of a sweet bread and Matt said that mine would be lovely with a nice jam, which sounded great so I was happy with my choice. We all did a different shape too – mine was round, Jordan’s was oblong and Keeley used the tin.
After we made the second loaf, Matt treated us to a piece of homemade sourdough and a summer soup, which is one of the ones that he delivers to the one-mile radius alongside the bread. Although it was a hot summer’s day, the soup went down a treat (as did the white wine to go with it).
We then had a gorgeous vegetarian spread of a beetroot hummus with feta, aubergine ragu and couscous, with more homemade bread, which was right up my street and reignited my love of beetroot.
If baking bread wasn’t enough, Matt also brews his own beer, which Jordan had a pint of and said was really good and went really well with the rest of the food.
The final loaf was a French pain de campagne, which used a different flour again, but the same method. I put walnuts in mine, which I’d never tried in a bread before, and Jordan went for hazelnuts.
All three were left to prove for a bit whilst we went and chatted in the front room, with another cup of tea and lots of talks of food and restaurants – my favourite topic!
Al of the loaves went into the oven at the same time for about 30-45 minutes and were turned in the middle of the bake. Matt had an oven you would find in a bakery, which had a little peephole that means you can check on how they’re baking.
Freshly baked bread is one of my favourite smells and by this point, the house smelt amazing. Once we went back into the kitchen, Matt had laid out all of our loaves for us, and they looked amazing – there was a real sense of achievement that we baked all this delicious bread to eat.
The whole day went by in a flash, but we were there for about 5-6 hours. The experience was amazing, and I really enjoyed learning all about the different types of flour, yeast and how easy it is to make a loaf of bread. We came away with all our recipes and a bread scraper, which I’ll be putting to good use.
You can book onto the course at One Mile Bakery here.
Have you ever baked bread? What did you think?