Do you know someone who loves to bake bread, or would like to learn? Then read on for my Christmas gift guide, a selection of my best gifts for bread bakers that should bring a smile to their face this year. And you never know, you might get a fresh baked loaf of bread in return as thanks!
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The perfect gift for the budding bread baker in your life. A gift voucher for a breadmaking class is the gift that keeps on giving – you might even get some fresh bread in return!
The Epsom Bakehouse runs a range of courses, from an Introduction to bread making, Introduction to Italian Breads, Artisan Breads, Sweet Breads and Sourdough Breads, plus training those who wish to start their own bread bakery from home.
Vouchers can be used towards any course run by The Epsom Bakehouse and are valid for six months. See https://www.theepsombakehouse.co.uk/gift-vouchers-available/ for more information.
Bread making books
A wide and mouth-watering selection of recipes, plus explanations of the techniques used, make for an inspiring book in my opinion. Here are two books I’ve used plenty this year, and which have been popular reading with students in my bread making classes.
How to make sourdough by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou
Emmanuel’s clear step-by-step photos are a fantastic part of this book, leading you through his method for making sourdough. As well as covering the equipment you’ll need and how to make your own starter, the book includes a wealth of recipes from rye to wholegrain breads plus some gluten-free recipes too.
Bread Revolution by Duncan Glendinning and Patrick Ryan
A favourite read for students in my classes, Duncan and Patrick’s bread enthusiasm shines through in this book. Alongside simple yet tasty and effective bread recipes, there are recipes for using or accompanying your fresh bread. The book also covers areas such as basic equipment, glazing your dough and shaping. My favourite recipes include the soda bread and local cheese loaf.
Good bread flour is widely available in UK supermarkets, something I’m very glad about. However, once you start baking bread, it’s tempting to try out different flours – perhaps a coarse stoneground variety or an unusual grain such as emmer – and compare the difference in your breads. Here are some smaller UK companies that you may not have tried, or heard of. Why not treat your budding bread baker to a selection and see what they can bake?
Source of all my organic bread flour when I baked for the Epsom Farmers Market, Shipton Mill sell a diverse range of flours, including a wide range that is gluten free.
Stoates Flour at Cann Mills
Cann Mills is a traditional stoneground flour mill nestled in rural North Dorset, where millers Stoates and Sons produce a wide range of organic flours that can be delivered to your door. Cann Mills is also the setting for our annual Bread Angels gathering, in the onsite bakery. Popular flours include the Maltstar flour, and the strong white flour.
Particularly popular on my bread making classes for the delicious rolls we make with it for lunch, Doves Farm Malthouse Bread Flour remains one of my favourites for everyday bread baking.
Traditional loaf pan
We often bake a traditional loaf in my bread making classes, and students note that it’s great for slicing for sandwiches and toast. A traditional loaf pan made with folded metal will produce the dome-topped, upright loaf we’re all familiar with.
Accurate weighing can make or break a great bread bake. Digital scales are an absolute must for me to help weigh out the small amounts of yeast and salt often found in bread making recipes. Plus, weighing out your water is also more accurate than following the scale on the jug, and made much easier with digital scales. I use these Salter digital scales in my bread baking.
We throw away a staggering 900,000 tonnes of bread every year in the UK. So I’ve loved seeing the rise of initiatives to use up stale and leftover bread to stop it going to waste. Toast Ale is one such project, brewed entirely from leftover bread and with profits going towards reducing further food waste. You can see more at https://www.toastale.com/ (note: age-restricted site).
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