Wednesday 20 September 2017

#AutumnalBakes: Baking Bread and Pumpkin soup with Jamie Oliver

Now that it feels like Autumn is very definitely here, the time was right to pop along to The Jamie Oliver Cookery School to take part in a session called #AutumnalBakes, being hosted by Hotpoint and Currys PC World.
Jamie's Italian sign

Now it's true that I don't get out much, so it was news to me that Jamie Oliver restaurant just outside Westfield shopping centre near Shepherd's Bush also hosts The Jamie Oliver Cookery School
Jamie's Italian restaurant Westfield

It's a lovely big area inside, with many workstations, and plenty of shiny new Hotpoint ovens. If you check out the website, you can see many different cookery courses on offer, from Mexican street food to pasta making and even a taste of Japan.
The Jamie Oliver Cookery School sign

We were invited there for a bread baking session, called 'Knead to Know' - there were a few puns on the day! We had a very enthusiastic teacher who led us through shaping some bread rolls and making our own focaccia dough, and I think she managed to inspired a bit of creativity from us all.
Teacher at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School

Before she began the bread learning though, we were given some Hotpoint facts - did you know that the average length of time British families keep their ovens for is 14 years?! That's longer than most other gadgets in our homes, and of course there are many advances in technology over time. The latest Hotpoint models have multiflow technology which distributes the heat evenly, obviously a must for perfect bread rolls.
dough being stretched

So after watching the initial demonstration we were all invited to get sticky hands on with some white bread dough which had been pre-made for us. Recipe is as follows:
basic bread dough recipe

Our job was to knock the dough back and pummel it as hard as we could - great for getting rid of any built-up frustration! Then we were encouraged to shape it in any way we wished before adding a glaze - whisked egg for a high sheen or milk for a matt finish. A good tip was to use an oiled knife to slash the bread (on a baguette say, usually just done for design reasons) as then the dough doesn't pull. Finally, there were seeds to be added for decoration. I didn't go overboard with those personally as I love my white rolls plain and simple, but it would have been rude not to use a few... 
me shaping a bread baguette

I enjoyed making my plait the most; definitely harder than it looks though. Whilst the rolls were popped in the oven to bake (anywhere between 7-13 minutes roughly, depending on size) we moved on to making our focaccia dough. Ingredients are listed in the image below:
rosemary focaccia recipe

I do remember that we mixed with a fork rather than hands, and only added half of the wet ingredients to the dry at first to bring together before then adding the second amount. Once mixed, we needed to knead (see what I did there?!) the mixture for a good 5 minutes to make sure any small bits of flour were blended in. A technique of 'push forward, pull back' was recommended but in actual fact you can do this any old way you like as long as you are working the dough - and for as long as you like although you may find your arms tiring after a while.

Our mixtures were put aside to prove (baking term for rise) and we learnt that although this happens well in a warm room, you can actually let the process happen more slowly in a fridge overnight and then take the dough out of the fridge for a half hour to warm up if you prefer.
focaccia dough

We finished off by dimpling and decorating some pre-readied focaccia dough. Some bashing of rosemary with a pestle and mortar brought the session to a stress-relieving end and we were then able to sit and enjoy our freshly baked bread rolls for lunch. 
baked bread rolls

Not wanting to blow my own trumpet or anything (ahem) but they were the perfect accompaniment for the delicious pumpkin soup which was brought out for us.
roasted pumpkin soup recipe

I'm attaching that recipe for you all too as I'm very kind, and because I will definitely be making the soup again myself. And the rolls! There's also a butternut squash soup recipe over on the Currys TechTalk blog which is well worth checking out.
lunch with bread and pumpkin soup
I would definitely recommend trying these recipes for yourself, and booking in for one of the cookery sessions too. If you're feeling extra kind, maybe you could treat a friend to a voucher for the Jamie Oliver Cookery School - am sure they would thank you for it!
Hotpoint autumnal bakes sign

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this event for free but all words and thoughts in this post are entirely my own. Just in case you are wondering, Jamie himself sadly didn't have time to pop along, but it was still brilliant without him!

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