In my last post I talked about the fact that smallholding can be a lonely hobby and told about how I had started up a Veg Growers group.
Well, shortly after I came up with that concept, another bright idea popped into my head. A Baking Group. No. A Blokes Baking group.
Now these groups are run as part of the Fenland Smallholders Club and I knew that this one may prove a little controversial, or cause a few hackles to rise, so I ran it past the committee first. I got their agreement, though I'm not sure everyone understood my reasoning.
For blokes sometimes need to spend time with other blokes, even when they get to my ripe old age. And when they're learning something new their successes and failures can be equally celebrated with a fair degree of banter.
So yesterday the day had come for our first get together. I bought the ingredients and provided the kitchen, others brought the beer!
I'm no expert, but it quickly became obvious that the other three were relying on me! I had decided to be ambitious and to go for a basic bread with a double rise. There would be plenty of time for socialising while we waited for the bread to rise. This would give me a chance to explain the processes going on a little further too.
As if this wasn't enough, I decided that we could make cinnamon rock cakes (a childhood favourite of mine) in the interlude, as well as enjoying a spicy parsnip soup which I'd prepared earlier.
I really wasn't sure whether all this would be a bit much, but my experience as a teacher came in very handy indeed. I managed to organise space, ingredients and resources so that everything ran relatively smoothly. To be honest, I had done a practice run the night before, just to make sure that the recipes worked, that the dough would rise in time and that I had enough spoons, bowls and baking trays.
And so it came to happen that I showed three other blokes how to sift flour, how to use yeast, how to knead dough, how to measure ingredients. The whole thing went all the more smoothly with the help of a couple of beers. Nothing over the top, just enough to be sociable.
|A lump of bread dough, all kneaded.|
But would it do its stuff?
So, you're probably wondering how we did. Did I send three grown men off to sheepishly sneak past their other halves hiding burnt offerings and bread like lead, or were they able to enter the house with pride? (And no, before you think it, there were no emergency visits to 24 hour Tesco bakeries on the way home!)
Well, here's the story in a few pics.
|Starting to look like bread.|
We did make one mistake,
slashing the bread before it had risen for a second time.
|The Blokes Baking Group,|
as much about spending time together
as about baking.
Brilliant Bloomers and Man Size Rock Cakes!
So, what's next?
The February get together of course.
It's Valentine's so I really can't be telling much more. It'd spoil the surprise.