Baskets of bread and a barrel of laughs

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As an avid viewer of programmes such as Masterchef and The Great British Bake-off, being given an opportunity to spend an entire day baking, thanks to a generous Christmas present from my parents, was one I relished.

The venue was Oxfords Bakery, based in Alweston, near Sherborne, and myself and my mum, along with four other eager wannabe-bakers donned aprons and prepared to get stuck in, elbow-deep in dough.

Oxfords is a family-run business and has been making bread since 1911. Fourth generation baker Steven Oxford runs the relatively new School of Bread, as well as heading up bakeries in Sherborne and Blandford, and a deli in Canford Cliffs.

Arriving at the venue at 12pm we started the course with a welcome cup of tea and a tour of the bakery, fitted out with its 91-year-old bread oven and what Steve believes to be the largest working giant dough mixer in the country.

We were given recipe sheets and aprons and we began to work our way through a variety of doughs, including wholemeal dough, milk dough, bun dough, and a scone mixture, and along the way we learned how to knead the dough, how long to let it prove, all the while being both encouraged and heckled (all very-good natured!)

We baked right through until 6pm and also got the chance to choose a recipe we particulary wanted to do. I picked foccacia with olives and almond harissa, and mum went for a Dorset Blue Vinny loaf.

Our group got along famously, and I think a lot of that was down to Steve’s laid back and friendly approach. He certainly was a fantastic teacher, and full of terrible jokes along the way! He knows his stuff, any queries we had he answered fully, and he went out of his way to help and make sure we understood the breadmaking processes so we could confidently take our skills home with us.

Having started off thinking I might manage to bake a loaf of bread I was amazed when we each managed to produce six Bath buns, 15 scones, a plaited wholemeal loaf, four wholemeal rolls, a poppy seed loaf, four milk dough rolls, and a speciality bread…… and I’ve probably missed something….. needless to say the entire batch only just fit in the back of mum’s Mini!

I would recommend this course to absolutely everyone. It was such fun, and who wouldn’t want a larder full of baked goods? Guy’s delighted at the prospect of eating his way through all that dough.

You can find out more about the course on www.oxfordsbakery.co.uk or email info@oxfordsbakery.co.uk

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