What it’s like
The atmosphere at Bread Ahead is captivating: the smell of hot bread wafts from the front door as bakers heave trays of fresh-from-the-oven goodies back and forth. Overhead, trains rumble on the tracks. What better location for a baking school than inside a functioning bakery in Borough Market, London’s gathering place for food lovers?
If you know about Bread Ahead, you’ll know about its doughnuts. In fact, the crème caramel with salted honeycomb won Highly Commended in the 2016 delicious. Produce Awards – they’re THAT good. Having indulged in one or 20 myself – the delicious. offices are dangerously nearby – I was excited to find out what makes these sweet treats so darned moreish.
Unsurprisingly, the Doughnut Workshop is one of the school’s most popular classes. Regardless of demand, numbers are restricted to 14 or so per session, allowing enough space for everyone to have their own workstation and get the most out of the expert guidance of tutor Aidan Chapman (aka the Dough Anarchist).
What I learned
The course has been cleverly engineered to squeeze a two-day baking process into three hours, with a few Blue Peter ‘here’s one I made earlier’ moments along the way. We created the dough for the doughnuts, then popped it in the fridge. Normally you’d leave it there overnight to rise slowly, but we swapped ours for cold, ready-risen dough, made the day before, to cut and roll into the proper plump shape, then fry and fill. Aidan explained every step as we went, focusing on why each ingredient/step was important.
Some of the class made fillings for the whole group to use, and after seeing how easy it is to make vanilla custard, I’ll never reach for the instant stuff again.
The end result was a take-home box of six impressive doughnuts: two salted caramel and honeycomb, two jam and two vanilla custard, as well as a bag full of more dough, recipe guides and homemade honeycomb. As for the taste? After I was welcomed home by my flatmate, my box of treats was empty in about five minutes.
This course will boost the knowledge and confidence of novice bakers, while more experienced cooks will benefit from Aidan’s expertise. It isn’t simply about following a recipe and watching a tutor, it’s also about gaining a true understanding of baking.