February 2014 archive

- 11 Feb 2014

Baking with Bertinet

I had the perfect start to 2014!  After a fabulous festive break I was lucky enough to attend the Richard Bertinet cookery school on a five day bread making course, which was without doubt the most enjoyable training I have had for years.

 


Bread making is a skill that has passed me by throughout my career as very few establishments make their own. For a long time I have been very keen to attend the Bertinet course so that I can introduce a new skill to the kitchen.

I first heard about Richard from Stefano Borella, a pastry chef friend of mine who went on the course some time ago and raved about it (believe me if a pastry chefs thinks it’s good, it must be).  Then a couple of years ago I bought Richard’s excellent book ‘Dough’ that comes with a demonstration DVD, I was so impressed that I made it a priority to go on the course.

The cookery school is situated in a wonderfully quirky old building nestled at the end of a Mews in the beautiful city of Bath.  Much like the building we were a varied and interesting class of 12, from America, Russia, Australia, the Far East, Ireland, Scotland and of course a couple of English thrown in for good measure.  Some of us had a catering connection yet others just had a love of baking this mix helped create a really great atmosphere.

Beautiful Freshly Made Bertinet Breads
Beautiful Freshly Made Bertinet Breads 

The course is expertly constructed and ensures it is accessible, fun and rewarding for everyone, not just the people in the trade.  We would begin each day would begin with a relaxed coffee and a home-made pastry at 09:30 followed by Richard outlining the day’s objectives accompanied by a demonstration. I particularly enjoyed day one’s introduction which was an explanation of the history and techniques of bread making, it set a really solid foundation on what we learnt the rest of the week.

Almost immediately it seemed it was our turn to get hands on, and under the spell of the Bertinet mantra of ‘Show the dough who’s Boss’ ringing in our ears, we go to it. Working in either pairs or in a group of four we soon found out that it was actually the Dough who was Boss! However, by the end of the week we may not have been the Boss but at least the dough was ‘Well supervised’. Don’t be fooled this was achieved following copious amounts of practice and lots of help and encouragement from Richard and his excellent assistant Dan!

The course covers so much more than just knocking up some basic bread. Not only do you learn how to make many types of bread, you also learn: technique, organisation, preparation, baking, ferments, timing, teamwork and much more.

We would end the day at 14:30 when Chef Richard would cook up some lunch for us and we would sit down to eat with a glass of wine and of course our freshly baked bread. What could possibly be better than that?

Lunch at Bertinet Baking School
Lunch at Bertinet Baking School

This is an excellent, highly recommended course and I am already looking at ways to introduce home-made bread to the menus here at One Great George Street.