January 17, 2014 6:51 pm

Five of the best: breadmaking courses

To master the art of sourdough, soda and other breads, here are some choice loaf lessons

Bread Ahead, London

Bread Ahead bakers

Bread Ahead, London

Bread Ahead sees two baking talents using their loaf: Justin Gellatly, formerly head of St John Bakery, and Matt Jones, founder of Flour Power. With its own stall in Borough Market, selling delicious rye sourdoughs, doughnuts and other treats, Bread Ahead also has its bakery in the market, and will launch its bakery school there in mid-February. Planned courses include a sourdough workshop, basic bread lessons and Italian breadmaking.

Cathedral Street, Borough Market SE1 1TL; breadahead.com

London Road Bakehouse, Staffordshire

This Stoke-on-Trent bakery is the last in Britain to use coal-fired ovens for all its baking – it has two 100-year-old stalwarts, which can bake 200 loaves an hour. In March, London Road will relaunch its popular half-day baking course (there is already a waiting list), held on Saturday afternoons and costing a reasonable £50. Baker apprentices make six loaves, plain and artisan, and learn how the coal oven keeps the bread wonderfully moist.

285 London Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 5AG; 01782 744089; londonroadbakehouse.co.uk

Shipton Mill, Gloucestershire

This historic Cotswold mill produces organic flours – not breads – in wonderful variety: chestnut, five-seed blend and stoneground brown rice to name a few. There is an on-site bakery, however, where head baker Clive Mellum runs two breadmaking courses, basic and advanced, as well as a newer one on Italian baking, in which you learn how to make ciabatta, grissini, focaccia and pizzas.

Long Newnton, Tetbury, GL8 8RP; 01666 505050; shipton-mill.com

Firehouse Bakery & Bread School, Ireland

On Heir Island, West Cork, this bread school has the distinction of only being reached by ferry. You set off from the mainland pier as a novice baker and return at the end of the day fully versed in soda bread, yeasted loaves, sourdough and more. Run by Patrick Ryan, the school uses a wood-fired clay oven.

Heir Island, Skibbereen, Co. Cork; +353 85 1561984; thefirehouse.ie

Bread Matters, Scotland

Andrew Whitely set up Bread Matters outside Edinburgh more than 10 years ago and teaches all the courses using a wood-fired oven. The spectrum of skills taught goes from the basic up to the four-day “Baking for a Living” course. Whitely has recently launched the Bread Matters Fungal Network, a hub for all those who use the starter that he brought back from Russia in the 1990s, where he studied the sourdough art.

Macbiehill Farmhouse, Lamancha, Peeblesshire EH46 7AZ; 01968 660449; breadmatters.com

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