bread & breakfast

17 May 2014

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I was supposed to be running 17 miles in a team relay this weekend, but my sporting dreams were temporarily put on hold last week after I sprained my calf muscle whilst training. Instead, I have just walked home (45 minutes) through Bristol city centre, triumphantly carrying this tart in a pizza box. Many many MANY drunk people out tonight, including one wise guy who, on observing my carefully balanced load from across the street, hollered “What size d’ya get?”. Charming. Partying on a Saturday night is all very well, but if I’m honest, I would probably much rather go on a baking course – and that’s what I did tonight.

I had waited months, if not years, to go on the Hart’s Bakery Bread & Breakfast workshop. I couldn’t quite believe it when an email from Laura Hart popped into my inbox last weekend, saying they’d had a cancellation and would I like the place. Serendipity.

So tonight at 6 o’clock, I pitched up at Hart’s, located in a Victorian railway arch just outside Temple Meads railway station, along with seven other bread/pastry/cinnamon bun enthusiasts, and we got stuck into three and half hours of intensive baking. Mixing sourdough using a 5 year old starter…’laminating’ croissants…stretching pizzas…eating freshly baked garlic bread washed down with generous glasses of good wine…spreading crème pâtissèrie and orange-juice-soaked raisins…rolling up pains au chocolate…sprinkling cinnamon and sugar…and whipping up this quick and simple chocolate and marmalade tart. I have an irrational fear of making pastry, so when mine turned out as near to perfect as I’m ever likely to get it, I felt a proud surge of surprise and delight.

Tomorrow morning we return to put the finishing touches to our other goodies, before baking them and then sitting down to breakfast at the bakery. We’ve each been invited to bring a friend along, but even then, there is going to be a huge amount of artisan sourdough and glazed, buttery goodness to go round.

I’m so very glad I finally got to do this workshop. And that I now have a use for all that homemade marmalade.

Someone enquired about whether there was a follow-up course, and Laura replied that there wasn’t, because they had already given us all their secrets. It certainly felt like it. The evening was fast-paced, yet also informal enough to be great fun. Get yourself on the waiting list now. Or make friends with someone who is and make sure you’re their breakfast buddy.

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