After spending the past twenty five years baking bread in restaurants and lately our cafe and deli, producing goodness knows how many loaves over the years, I had never thought about going on a baking course. Last weekend, however, I had the opportunity to attend one of Vic Norths bread baking workshops.

My main aim was to understand and gain some experience of sourdough baking but I learnt a whole lot more.

After arriving at Manor Deifi near Llechryd on a rainy Sunday morning to a warm welcome and meeting the rest of the group - which included a sixteen year old schoolgirl and a keen gentleman baker who had been given the course by his wife - we stood around our mixing bowls and prepared wholemeal loaves, breadsticks, nutty soda bread (something I had forgotten was so delicious), garlic and Parmesan bread and finally the eagerly awaited sourdough. This lay gently in our banetton baskets to take home to bake the following day along with a pot of sourdough starter. 

Vicky also runs a French baking course with baguettes and croissants being taught. Alongside this there is Italian baking - think ciabatta and traditional Italian country breads - a macaroon masterclass, and children's classes for 9 year olds and above.

She has also recently had an outside wood fired oven built so is running a class hosted by Tom Bean on how to build and keep the fire going as well as cooking various dishes using the extremely hot oven. This is something that would appeal to a lot of barbecue fans!

The 5 hour course flew by with a break for a late lunch whilst the ovens were doing their job.

It was a fun and enlightening way to spend a Sunday that anyone interested in food and baking would enjoy. It's a perfect present for that difficult friend or relative you never know what to buy, and the macaroon class in June looks rather interesting...

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