Monday, October 29, 2007

The Bertinet Kitchen, Bath

12 St Andrew's Terrace
Bath BA1 2QR

I've been makng the odd loaf of bread for a few years, but never been totally satisfied with the results, except for the focaccia that I was shown how to make at La Cucina Caldesi last year which I love.

I'd read good review of Richard Bertinet's book "Dough" so I thought I'd book myself onto the three day course that he runs in Bath.

The kitchen is in the centre of Bath, a ten minute walk from the station and a five minute walk to the baths themselves.

The first day of the course is an introduction to bread making in which Richard Bertinet shows his technique for creating and working the dough. The dough he makes is quite wet and he doesn't add any more flour to it. The way he works the flour, from beneath with his fingers rather than the traditional way from the top with the heel of your palm, stretches the gluten and traps a lot of air in the dough. This allows the dough to become less sticky without the addiion of extra flour.

After the demo it is our go to make the dough, with some help from Richard and his helpers. It takes a bit of getting used to, because it starts off so sticky that you are really tempted to add more flour. However, once you get into the swing of it, the dough becomes less sticky and starts to come together.
After resting the dough for a while, Richard then showed us how to make olive and parmesan breadsticks, fougasse and various fancy rolls. He also showed us how to make hollow "puffballs" that you can fill with salad.

Then it was our turn. We made white dough and wholemeal dough with which we made some nice star shaped buns with poppy seeds, plaited buns with sesame seeds as well as more breadsticks and fougasse.

Once the bread had baked, it was time for a late lunch and to sample the bread. The bread was gorgous, nice and airy, just the kind of stuff they serve in the best restaurants.

The second day was French breads during which we got to make baguettes, olive bread and flamiche and the final day was Italian breads in which we made ciabatta, foccacia and pizza dough.

It was quite hard work, as we were making several different doughs on each day and in different amounts. However, Richard is a really nice guy and all the days were great fun.

I came away from the courses with both of his books, "Dough" and "Crust" and various samples of the bread that we had made. Since returning from the course, I've made various loaves and rolls and even made the puffball salads for a dinner party I cooked for - and they worked!

If you are interested in making really good bread, then I'd definitely recommend the Bertinet Kitchen. Richard Bertinet lives and breathes bread and as well as making fantastic bread on this course you'll also learn a lot about the mechanics of baking and have a great time.

No comments: