Friday, January 30, 2015

Current Fantasy: English Bread Making Classes

For professional reasons only, ha ha

Have you ever peeked at the courses page of the Real Bread Campaign website? Do you imagine combining a trip to England with lessons in sourdough and whole grain baking? I do - a lot of the time. 

I admit there was a while when I fooled myself that one of the week-long courses at the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) would do, but without English accents, English countryside or cities, or farmhouses with sheep outside, or at least nearby, San Francisco does not pass muster. As for being in the US, SF has none of the convenience of the East Coast or the charm. (Sorry, I like the city, but I'm an East Coast woman. I don't quite get the SF hoopla.) SFBI doesn't have cute descriptions of organic oases or a fermentation paradise - again combined with the English accents.

Perhaps that British bake-off show is to blame, although in their endeavors beyond bread I just become convinced that my pinnacle would be amateur hour compared to the contestants. I'd be more likely to learn to sew and audition for Project Runway, one of my guilty pleasures, than making some kind of cake I've never heard of. No, the allure of Britain is a definitely a combination of accents and loveliness.

I would love to take some bread classes and write about them here, especially because thus far I've been self-taught, with the aid of books and online bread forums. Might be nice to learn someone's technique in person. Might be nice to enjoy the camaraderie of a group lesson.

What's keeping me from booking the airline tickets and the classes? Apart, of course, from a full-time job, there are two reasons.

1. Expensive trip. Yes, a trip somewhat journalistic in nature, but I don't think I could collect enough by crowdsourcing and I'm pretty sure such a trip would not qualify for a deduction on my taxes.

2. I will not drive in England. Even being a passenger in a car over there makes me anxious and becomes an exercise in utter confusion. I never get to the point where I know which lane one is supposed to be in or turn to. This could prevent a trip to one of those baking schools or bakeries on the edge of a sheep meadow.

Truly, though, I get pretty overwhelmed by the incredible array of bread classes over there. I should actually seriously peruse the list and make some decisions, then figure out a financing plan. These seem like obstacles that would not stop any plucky heroine.

Our heroine would burst out into song right about now, perhaps with a dance number. Did I mention I went to the same high school as Neil Sedaka, albeit years later? And Neil Diamond, by the way. It's the ocean air and the proximity of good pizza that contributes to the genius of the students.


  1. Hi Sheryl,
    I live in Norfolk, England and provide bed and breakfast here via Airbnb. I am also a fanatical bread baker specialising in sourdough. I would be happy to share my knowledge with you if you stayed here. Take a look at my listing on Airbnb. Search for Pulham Market, Norfolk. There are pictures of my bread on the listing. Fay

  2. Hello. I saw your post on One of the most famous bakers in the UK is Richard Bertinet (the Bertinet kitchen) and he runs a well known bakery & cookery school in Bath which is a couple of hours by train from London. There are many courses, some short some long and all need to be booked in advance. The courses are truly excellent and really inspiring.
    If time is an issue, you may want to visit London only- there's a very good bakery school called Bread Ahead based near Borough Market (largest farmers maker in London). They specialise in sourdough and most of the courses are only one day.
    Hope your dream becomes a reality and that this has given you a teeny bit more inspiration. All the best, Maja