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True Loaf Magazine Article

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Author: Magdalena Marsden


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

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