For all the wittering I do about food, baking is not one of my fortes. I can never work out if it is because of my impatience or the need for exact measurements, but bread has never been something I have really managed to master. So when I was invited to join Matt at the Hale One Mile Bakery for a class, I was excited to see if this bread making malarky was something I could crack.
One Mile Bakery was founded by journalist Elisabeth Mahoney in Cardiff, where she delivers breads, preserves and soups within one mile of her home. She also delivers a number of baking classes and has spread the idea around the country. Matt, former primary school teacher, is running the Hale bakery from his suburban home, taking to the roads on his bike to deliver fresh goods and running classes to turn even the most novice of bakers into a successful home baker.
I joined the Introduction to Baking course which guides you through making 3 different types of bread; a white tin loaf, a wholemeal loaf and a French pain de campagne. They use different flours but have pretty much the same method so you can practice under the watchful eye of Matt should anything start to go wrong. The group is kept small so Matt can give you his full attention whilst answering any baking questions you have along the way.
The day is interspersed with regular breaks, a beautiful 2 course lunch with wine and lots of bread related chat, guaranteed to motivate you when you get home. Matt makes a vegetarian lunch which, as a none vegetarian, was truly delicious and something I have already tried to recreate at home.
The day is set at the perfect pace; enough time to learn and bake but also to allow the bread to prove and cook before cooling enough to take home. Matt is a self taught baker, which I personally prefer to someone who is professionally trained. I feel that his own journey with trial and error means he has so much more experience of what can go wrong, but more importantly, what really works from a home baker’s point of view. He is also a keen home brewer and has started to run beer and baking classes from his kitchen!
We were sent on our way with our 3 loaves, our very own One Mile Bakery bread scraper and some recipes to job our memories once home and in our own kitchens. It was such a fun and educational day, I would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in making their own bread. I can’t wait to crack out the scraper at home and test my new found skills.
With huge thanks to Matt for his patience and to the beautiful Ellie from Eleanor Graceful for keeping me company on the day! You can book your class here.