Had a great time on Sunday on an artisan bread baking course at the fabulous Earth’s Crust Bakery in Laurieston. Only a 20-minute drive from home, I think I may have written in a previous post about their delicious and highly-addictive spelt Galloway loaf. The course was a gift from my sisters-in-law Ally and Alex.

There were four other eager bakers on the course which took place in Tom’s converted garage-cum-bakehouse. The conversion work was carried out partly by Phil, the owner of the Hebridean sheep currently residing in our field. In fact, before heading off to the course we had first to check and feed the sheep as Jo and Phil were away.

We started the day by making a sourdough dough and being taught kneading techniques. Top tip – knead less, don’t add flour and let the dough rest more to get it doing the work for you. While the dough rested we prepared a focaccia dough Tom had made earlier. The technique for this is similar to that used for making puff pastry, repeatedly folding the dough in thirds before adding olive oil. The focaccia, once cooked, became part of our lunch, along with several breads and Paulina’s rich tomato and bean soup.

But before lunch there was tea, coffee and delicious Dundee cake and a lesson in shaping a tinned loaf (a seeded style of bread) for proving. Fortified by lunch, we then had a go at making the seeded loaf dough and turned out and slashed the tops of sourdough loaves which had proved in traditional bannetons. We used a lame for slashing the top of the loaf – I was a bit heavy handed with mine but the bread seemed to take it. Then our loaves were baked in a very hot oven, liberally sprayed with water from a mister to stop the crust forming too quickly.

I left with lots of tips and tricks, a sourdough starter, two delicious loaves and a banneton of my own plus more baking enthusiasm and the exciting news that there will be a farmers’ market starting in Kirkcudbright in March and Earth’s Crust will be having a stall. I think I’ll have to start making space in the freezer…