Inside a white, low-ceilinged room on a lovely cobbled street, a class of ten people of all ages and baking abilities stood in a loose circle around cups of French-pressed coffee and a basket of warm croissants. Richard Bertinet, cookbook author and baker extraordinaire, reached for our hands to welcome us. It was hard not to notice his confidence. And his hands. They were good hands, strong and big and worn smooth from kneading. We split up into teams and got going immediately, “working” (Bertinet’s term for kneading) the dough, and were soon elbow-deep in a sticky slime that would eventually become the most wonderful bread I’d ever tasted. Over the course of five hours, Bertinet easily guided us through all stages of artisanal breadmaking, using rye, whole-wheat, white, and even spelt flour. By the end of the class, the ten of us had made enough bread—ciabatta, braids, fougasse, “puff balls,” baguettes, stars—to fill a shop window. There were loaves and loaves of spectacular, bakery-quality bread, all of them made in home-style ovens. (011-44-1225- 445531; thebertinetkitchen.com; $220 for one day, $600 for three days, and $1,000 for five days, including breakfast and lunch)
What I Learned
It seems more difficult to work with wet, sticky dough, but it makes the best bread.
Baking great bread has very little to do with humidity or weather. Good dough equals good bread, period.
Before You Go
Convince yourself you have no idea how to bake bread (because you don’t). The transition will be easier.
Where to Stay
Queensberry Hotel (011-44-1225- 447928; thequeensberry.co.uk; from $225). Right up the street from the school, the hotel is carved out of a series of elegant Georgian town houses.