Brand new Viennoiserie and Sweet Breads course

take home breads small

On Saturday we held our first Sweet Breads and Viennoiserie course, which by all accounts was a roaring success. I was super nervous about the first one as it’s the first new bread course that I’ve introduced for a couple of years and I didn’t have any jokes lined up about laminating. I needn’t have worried as we had a great room-full of people who were chatty, interested, and by the end of the day, very talented! I just wanted to share a few pictures of the day and encourage you to book on our May dates which still have spaces (14th and 23rd May). The above picture was kindly sent in by Chris Wordsworth when he got home and spread out everything that he’d taken home from the course. The rest are some photos taken on my phone during the day! You can find out more about the course and book online here. TB.

Seven brand new courses: Kitchen Essentials

2013 should be a fab year for Loaf, and we’ve decided to kick it off with a great new series of short workshops called Kitchen Essentials. Taught by our talented baker and chef Dom Clarke, these workshops are aimed at improving your basic cooking skills and helping you to be confident and efficient around the kitchen. Priced at just £30 each (except for cooking meat which is £40) they’ll make a great Christmas gift for a loved one, we’ll even print you a voucher with a personal message on if you wish. You can find the full details of the workshops in the shop along with online booking, but see our brief outline of the courses below:

 

 

Kitchen Essentials One: Knife SkillsTuesday 22nd January 7-9pm
Don’t know your julienne from your chiffonade or your paring knife from your boning knife? This is the course for you!  From the basics of choosing the right knife for the right task, to keeping your knives in tip-top condition, and chopping our way to some delicious dishes along the way!

Kitchen Essentials Two: Stocks and SaucesTuesday 29th January, 7-9pm
There are as many sauces in the world as there are chefs, but this Stocks and Sauces workshop will give you an introduction to the building blocks of some of the classics. We’ll explore both Asian and Western sauces and share some delicious treats throughout the evening.

Kitchen Essentials Three: Eggs – Tuesday 12th February, 7-9pm
Eggs are one of natures most simple yet beautiful foods, incredibly versatile but surprisingly difficult to cook right. On this two-hour workshop we’ll whisk, scramble, omelette, poach two ways, turn into delicious sweet tarts and a classic egg-based sauce.

Kitchen Essentials Four: Cooking VegetablesTuesday 26th February, 7-9pm
Vegetables are the delicious encapsulation of sunshine. For too many years they have played second fiddle to meat, but no more!! On this fantastic Kitchen Essentials: Cooking Vegetables workshop you’ll learn how to bring out those fantastic flavours locked up inside veg, and put them out front on a pedestal, where they belong.

Kitchen Essentials Five: Flavour Geography – Tuesday 12th March, 7-9pm
Lamb and rosemary, tomato and basil, peas and ham, ginger and spring onion, duck and orange. There’s a reason why some flavour combinations have stood the test of time and are now considered classic. On this educational two hour workshop you’ll learn the origins of some favourite combinations, cook some fantastic dishes from around the world, and gain the confidence to improvise with flavours in your own kitchen.

Kitchen Essentials Six: Beans, Pulses & Grains – Tuesday 19th March, 7-9pm.
So versatile but so often overlooked, this Kitchen Essentials workshop will teach you how to make the best of beans, pulses and grains. Perfect for these austere times, beans and pulses are cheap, nutritious, and if you cook them well, absolutely delicious.

Kitchen Essentials Seven: Cooking Meat – Tuesday 26th March, 7-9pm
Meat is an increasingly precious foodstuff in todays world, it’s becoming even more important to eat less but better meat, and cook well with it, wasting as little as possible. But what to do with it? Roast, braise, griddle, fry, steam, barbecue, or grill? Low and slow or hot and fast? On the bone or off the bone? Our fantastic two-hour Kitchen Essentials: Cooking Meat workshop will answer all of these questions and more.

Cookery School news

Bread: Back to Basics

There are spaces available on our 29th September Bread course, it’s a week on Saturday and will take place in the new cookery school adjacent to Stirchley Stores:

Bread: Back to Basics is a day-long course. Loaf Director Tom will equip you with the skills to make consistently good, wholesome bread at home. This experience takes bread back to its essential ingredients – flour, water, salt and yeast – and teaches you a great repertoire of beautiful breads based on these basic building blocks. You’ll learn how to make rustic white loaves, wholemeal seeded rolls, ciabatta, fougasse and pizza, which you’ll eat for your lunch. You’ll also make an enriched brioche dough for you to take home and bake the next day.

 

New butchery courses

1st November – Perfect Poultry & 21st November – Nose to Tail Lamb

These are run in partnership with Steve Rossiter, who runs Birmingham’s only certified organic butchers in Bournville.

To book a place on any of our courses, or for more information see our shop

 

Updates from Twitter and Facebook

Tomorrow marks the first week of Loaf HQ and Stirchley Stores being open to the public, and we’ve had a great response so far. There are some photos up on our facebook showing Stirchley Stores/the Loaf HQ opening, as well some of the daily loaves available, and Tom regularly puts a few photos up on his twitter, here’s Dom’s special Mustard and Chedder Boulé:

 

Last chance to forage!

Just a quick blog to tell you about the last forage and cook course that we’re running in 2012. Next Thursday evening 6th September will be our last outing into the wilds of Stirchley to check out what wild plants are around at this time of year and what tasty treats we might be able to cook up using wild ingredients. Also for the first time we’ll be starting and finishing the course at our brand new cookery school on Stirchley High Street which is very nearly finished! You can check out the course details and reserve your place using our new online shop. There’s loads of other courses now advertised in the shop and I’ll tell you all about those in another post very soon.

Loaf HQ – coming soon in 2012

I just wanted to write a quick blog post before I finish for Christmas to let you know our plans for the New Year. If you follow us on Twitter you’ll know by now that we have signed a contract for a lease on a new premises on our local high street in Stirchley, south Birmingham. This is great news as we’ve been operating from Jane’s and my house for 2 years now, and we’re bursting at the seams!

The property (pictured right) has been recently purchased by Everards the brewer, with the purpose of Loaf being their tenant at the building. the new Loaf HQ will be the first premises established as part of Everards’s ‘Project Artisan’ – an innovative scheme to purchase and then lease out buildings suitable for artisan food and drink businesses that need to expand, initiated by Everards after the success of their project to convert pubs for micro-breweries (Project Willam). Everards investment in the property means that Loaf can take on a bigger and more suitable premises than we otherwise could have done and we are very grateful that they came along when they did. We’re currently waiting on planning permission for the conversion of the premises, and there will then be 2 months of building work to complete. This means we are hoping to be in the new place by late March or April.

What will the new place do?

Loaf has been running a community bakery and cookery school for two years now, and the new premises is primarily an expansion of those – there will be a 12-person cookery school on site (visible from the pavement!), as well as a bakery producing a range of real bread for Stirchley and the surrounding area. They’ll also be a retail space, which Loaf is giving to South Birmingham Food Co-operative to run as a joint space. They will be selling our bread in the shop, alongside store cupboard essentials, wholefoods, and eco cleaning products etc – all ethically sourced and fairly priced.

Bread Bonds

Everards are investing in the refurbishment of the property, which is an enormous help, and means we only need to buy the equipment we need and fit it into the property when we’re handed the keys. We need to raise around £25,000 to kit out the bakery and cookery school. In January we will be doing a ‘bread bond’ issue which we hope will raise the majority of that cash. We are looking for people interested in buying ‘loanstock’ – essentially a £1000 loan to Loaf for 3 years. During the 3 years, bread bond holders will get an interest rate on their loan, which instead of being paid in cash will be paid in the equivalent value in bread. At the end of three years, the bread bond holder get’s their £1000 back. If this is something that might interest you and you’d like to be included in the bond issue or would like more details please email me at tom@loafonline.co.uk – I won’t be answering emails until after the new year, but I’m guessing you’ll be pretty busy too, and i’ll be in touch asap after new year.

There’ll be plenty of updates next year as the project progresses, so keep your eyes peeled to the blog or twitter for all the latest. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, Peace,

Tom.

Loaf HQ – coming soon in 2012

I just wanted to write a quick blog post before I finish for Christmas to let you know our plans for the New Year. If you follow us on Twitter you’ll know by now that we have signed a contract for a lease on a new premises on our local high street in Stirchley, south Birmingham. This is great news as we’ve been operating from Jane’s and my house for 2 years now, and we’re bursting at the seams!

The property (pictured right) has been recently purchased by Everards the brewer, with the purpose of Loaf being their tenant at the building. the new Loaf HQ will be the first premises established as part of Everards’s ‘Project Artisan’ – an innovative scheme to purchase and then lease out buildings suitable for artisan food and drink businesses that need to expand, initiated by Everards after the success of their project to convert pubs for micro-breweries (Project Willam). Everards investment in the property means that Loaf can take on a bigger and more suitable premises than we otherwise could have done and we are very grateful that they came along when they did. We’re currently waiting on planning permission for the conversion of the premises, and there will then be 2 months of building work to complete. This means we are hoping to be in the new place by late March or April.

What will the new place do?

Loaf has been running a community bakery and cookery school for two years now, and the new premises is primarily an expansion of those – there will be a 12-person cookery school on site (visible from the pavement!), as well as a bakery producing a range of real bread for Stirchley and the surrounding area. They’ll also be a retail space, which Loaf is giving to South Birmingham Food Co-operative to run as a joint space. They will be selling our bread in the shop, alongside store cupboard essentials, wholefoods, and eco cleaning products etc – all ethically sourced and fairly priced.

Bread Bonds

Everards are investing in the refurbishment of the property, which is an enormous help, and means we only need to buy the equipment we need and fit it into the property when we’re handed the keys. We need to raise around £25,000 to kit out the bakery and cookery school. In January we will be doing a ‘bread bond’ issue which we hope will raise the majority of that cash. We are looking for people interested in buying ‘loanstock’ – essentially a £1000 loan to Loaf for 3 years. During the 3 years, bread bond holders will get an interest rate on their loan, which instead of being paid in cash will be paid in the equivalent value in bread. At the end of three years, the bread bond holder get’s their £1000 back. If this is something that might interest you and you’d like to be included in the bond issue or would like more details please email me at tom@loafonline.co.uk – I won’t be answering emails until after the new year, but I’m guessing you’ll be pretty busy too, and i’ll be in touch asap after new year.

There’ll be plenty of updates next year as the project progresses, so keep your eyes peeled to the blog or twitter for all the latest. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, Peace,

Tom.

Butchery Course a Roaring Success

IMG_5290Wednesday evening saw Loaf Cookery School’s first butchery course, and an exciting collaboration with local master butcher Steve Rossiter. Steve proved himself to be a natural teacher, and the enthusiastic students warmed to him immediately, and took eagerly to applying the techniques they had learned to produce some stunning dishes. Trying to lead the evening and take decent photographs proved a bit too much for me, however you can see a few shots showing what we did below. We jointed, spatchcocked and butterflied our way through the evening, and ended up with a veritable feast at the end, all washed down with a nice glass of red wine. On the menu was Raz el Hanout tagine chicken legs with minted cous cous, chorizo-stuffed chicken breast wrapped in streaky bacon, spatchcocked poussin with lemon and wild garlic, and chicken liver and wild leaf salad. Sadly I didn’t get any shots of the finished dishes, but I have included a ‘one-I-made-earlier’ photo of the wrapped chicken breast below. One of the most exciting things for me was having a 15-year old lad on the course who is an aspiring young chef looking to study catering at UCB. He was eager to learn, and I was secretly jealous that I wasn’t as in to food at his age as he is – not many 15 year olds know how to butcher a chicken and turn it into fancy, delicious dishes like he does now. Steve and I are keen to do more courses together in the future, so stay peeled to the cookery school page for upcoming dates.

IMG_5263IMG_5267IMG_5281chorizo-stuffed chickenIMG_5283

Breadmaking Photos

Shaping fougasse before it goes into the earth oven.
Shaping fougasse before it goes into the earth oven.

We had another great breadmaking course here on Saturday, with enthusiastic students creating lots of lovely loaves. One of my students took some great photos of the produce, which you can find on this Flickr set. Said student also happens to be the head honcho at School of Everything, which you should definitely check out – did you know they now have 9,000 teachers worldwide teaching anything from maths to martial arts, amazing! The next ‘Bread: back to basics’ course is on the 17th April.

Course Spotlight: Butchery

I’m really excited about some of our upcoming new courses, not least the Butchery workshop that we’re running in collaboration with master butcher Steve Rossiter on the 14th April. Steve is a bit of a local legend around these parts, founding Birmingham’s first organic registered butchers in Mary Vale Rd, Bournville. Steve has agreed to help me run an evening workshop where we explore beak-to-tail butchery of poultry birds, along with some tasty and impressive ways of cooking them.

butchery poultry logo

We’ll start the evening with a whole chicken (one between two). Steve will then teach us how to respectfully joint it, and show us what else we can do with the various joints. Then I’ll take over, and lead us in some fantastic chicken recipes that show off your new found butchery skills and taste amazing too! We’ll be making butterflied chicken breast stuffed with homemade chorizo, chicken Raz al Hanout with minted cous cous, and pan fried chicken livers with a wild green salad. Anything we don’t cook, you get to take home and show off your new skills with!

The first course is on Wednesday 14th April from 6.30pm-9.30pm, and is a snip at just £50, which includes all the ingredients and equipment, course notes, and a full stomach! There’s still a few places available, so email tom@loafonline.co.uk to book your place!

Fingers crossed, we’re going to be able to offer a lamb-in-a-day type butchery experience in the Summer too!

I Love Teaching Bread Making!

chalkboardBread is one of my favourite things in the world. I get a bit obsessive about it sometimes and do rash things like build an earth oven in my back garden or quit my job to set up a community bakery. I also love teaching, which is what I’ve done for the NHS for the last 4 years as a community nutritionist. Starting Loaf Cookery School has been an amazing chance for me to bring these things together, and courses like last Saturday’s Bread: Back to Basics have utterly convinced me that I’m doing the right thing. Not only were they an excellent group of people eager to provide fresh wholesome bread for their households, but one of them secretly left me a little message on the chalkboard that made me smile from ear to ear when my wife discovered it halfway through the evening (see picture). The group went home with armfuls of bread: wood-fired white loaves and sourdough baton’s, wholemeal seeded batch rolls, ciabatta, fougasse, brioche dough, and a belly-full of pizza.  A thoroughly enjoyable day all round I’d say!