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  1. Author: Magdalena Marsden

    trueloaf23

    This article was published in True Loaf Magazine by Real Bread Campaign.

    Connecting people through bread baking

    I love my job – starting early when everyone else is still asleep, late nights finishing baking and the beautiful people I’ve met over the 3 years, since I started my little baking business Cocoa & Heart.

    I’ve started to bake my own bread about 16 years ago, when I couldn’t find the bread I liked in normal supermarkets. After few failed attempts (the first bread ended up heavy like a brick!) I managed to bake a decent loaf, good enough that my friends wanted to take one to a dinner party! And so it started…

    I now run bread baking workshops and share my experience and skills with other enthusiastic bakers. It always amazes me that so many people these days are interested in bread making. I’ve had professional musicians, surgeons and members of the armed forces on a break from overseas duty joining me as well as overseas visitors on a UK holiday looking for a chance to brush up on their bread baking skills.

    And, of course, my job’s not been without its lighter moments, too.  When BBC Radio Kent contacted me to take part in a live interview, I wasn’t about to turn them down. Not even if it meant taking the call in the middle of one of my baking classes! After what seemed like an age waiting for a song to finish, I soon found myself answering unscripted questions about making all manner of breads and my courses. The interviewer was most amused when I told him that I was halfway through an actual baking workshop and had just nipped upstairs to chat to him.

    But it’s not just about providing one off courses; it’s about building a bread baking community. I’ve just started ‘refresher’ courses for my previous students, which gives everyone chance to practice particular techniques or a tricky bread recipe.  It’s so rewarding to hear people say that since they’ve been on one of my courses they’ve not purchased any shop bought bread because they now make their own.

    One older gentleman recently told me that when he’s baking bread he feels connected to everyone else making bread across the whole globe.  And it’s lovely to see parents and their children on thesame course; lovely to know that in a small way I’m helping to ensure that the passion for making your own bread is being passed down through the generations. Most people are amazed to find that with a bit of good planning they can bake so much bread in a relatively short space of time.

    I do love people visiting my Victorian kitchen where the courses take place. But, with the encouragement of my fellow bakers, I’ll be running a week long residential baking course in a Victorian manor house in South Wales in March 2015. It will be a great week of bread baking, relaxing by the fire, eating homemade food and we will even spend a day milling our own flower in local watermill in Talgarth.

    Visit my website for my favourite recipes, baking techniques and information about my workshops -  www.cocoaandheart.co.uk

    mm author

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  2. Author: Magdalena Marsden

    Wales Fix

     

    Over the last 17 years I've become very fond of Wales. It's not just because I like walking and the countryside and my brother in-law lives there, but because it reminds me of home. This might seem strange, as I'm from a landlocked country (Czech Republic) and we have no sea, but the type of countryside, not too many main roads and perhaps a simpler way of living is exactly why in my heart Wales is like a home to me.

     

    We always go on holiday to Wales, to walk, to clear our heads, eat good food and meet great people. Over the years we met some fabulous people - the reclusive artist that escaped from London to hide in the Welsh borders to create, the music studio owner, who was given the task to record with a certain very famous young pop group, because his studio is the highest and most remote in the whole UK and apparently it's really difficult to sneak out to buy drugs (I kid you not!) and an English film producer that spends most of his time working on films in the renowned Barandov Film Studios in Prague.

     

    I'm getting slightly side tracked here, but this is just to give you an idea why I'm so fond of Wales.

    Anyway, last year I was lucky enough to spend a day milling my own flour in Talgarth Mill. I've written about my experience in one of my previous posts, if you want to read it. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share it with other budding bread bakers, so this year after 4 years of running bread baking workshops and after being nudged by my lovely students, I'm taking my bread baking on holiday!

     

    Well, a sort of very special bread baking holiday - 5 day Bread Baking Course, 14 - 19 March 2015 - held in the beautiful setting of an old Victorian house with a kitchen the size of my house and no less than 6 Aga ovens! And we will be only 40 minutes away from Talgarth Mill, so the Milling Experience, together with baking bread in a wood fired oven will be part of the holiday. On top of that we are going to cover everything there is about bread baking - the basic techniques, recipes and what to do when things go wrong. I wanted the course to be suitable for all abilities, so if you are more advanced, there will be other techniques that you can practice. The best thing, is that even though the house is absolutely huge (and comfortable) we will only have a small group of 8 bakers, which, I think, will make everything more personal and everyone will have plenty of space to practice their own bread baking, relax with a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire or just read a book in a privacy of your own room. And if your friend or partner fancies coming along with you, just for a break, they are welcome too. As most of the rooms are either twin or a large double, we have spaces for 'non- bakers' - friends who are welcome to join us for all the meals, but do as they please during day. There is plenty to explore nearby and Cardiff is only 30 minutes away.

     

    I also thought (you can tell I've been doing a lot of thinking, can't  you....) that it might be nice to do something different in the evening. So, we will have a topical talk & tasting of local cheeses, healthy eating talk from a nutricionist Claire Stone (who is not your traditional type of nutricionist and definitelly knows her stuff) and chocolate mini workshop are prepared for everyone staying with us.

    I'm really looking forward to taking my bread baking workshops on the tour and you are welcome to join us too.

    Happy Baking!

    Magdalena

    Can't make the date, but would like to stay in touch? You are welcome to join our monthly newsletter with bread baking tips, ideas and recipes.

     

     

  3. Author: Magdalena Marsden

     

    New Chocolate Truffle Course

     

    So, it's Sunday and I find myself, yet again happily exhausted at the end of a long week.  Have you noticed how cup of tea just taste so much better, when you are completely worn out ? Officially I was on 'holiday', but honestly has anyone actually taken a proper holiday when they are self-employed ?

  4.  Author: Magdalena Marsden

    Well, believe me or not, I have been asked this question so many times, that later last year I decided, it was time to set up few chocolate making classes and share my passion for chocolate and my chocolate making skills with others.

    Like with all my other baking courses, I first ran the course with my friends and people who already attended my 'Artisan Bread Baking Course' in the past. I wanted to try and test how well the course will run and how difficult or easy it will be get everyone's chocolate tempered at the same time.

     

    Chocolate Tempering

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It was a great fun - even when the temperatures on one day were too hot to work with the chocolate properly. Everyone enjoyed this chocolate making experience - from designing their own chocolate truffle ganashe flavour to learning how to dip and decorate the truffles like a professional chocolatier.

    I have also prepared plenty of chocolate tasting of our Origin's chocolates, filled truffle bars and chocolate truffles that I made previously. At the end of the sessions, everyone's chocolates were beautifully wrapped in chocolate boxes - ready as a unique chocolate gift.

    I have had some great comments back - most of the times people didn't believe that they can create something so perfect the first time round! I must admit I'm always admiring the end results - everyone's chocolates are so different and beautiful too.

     

    Chocolate Truffle Workshops

    The Chocolate Truffle Making workshops have been now running for over a year and I love sharing my passion for good chocolate with other people. Our chocolate making workshops are run in our victorian chocolate kitchen in South East London, Bexleyheath.

     

     

     

  5. Author: Magdalena Marsden

     

    A day out in London ! Hurrah ! Under the pretence of research (really it was a research, but still a lots of fun !) I headed off to London to visit Speciality and Fine Food Fair at Olympia. This was a trade show only, so I had my ticket in advance and also had the chance to plan which stall to visit. (Precise military operation, you see...)