Learning to bake at River Cottage

I am not a big cook if I am honest. I make a mean Bailey’s Cheesecake, Lemon Drizzle cake and Gingerbread men, but since having Eliza and Sebastian I found I didn’t have time to bake, but now Eliza is at school full-time I intend to start again.

Yesterday I attended Blog Camp at River Cottage organised by the team at Tots100 and one of the sessions was a workshop where we learned to make our own butter and soda bread.

I have to admit I was really nervous as most of the other bloggers attending the event were proper foodies, but they were super supportive and we all pitched in together if another had a question. Our Chef teacher was Gill Meller who has been part of the River Cottage team for almost ten years started us off picking blackberries before our first challenge of making our own butter, and I was amazed at how easy it actually is.

Firstly, whip the cream until it is really stiff

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Next, use a spatula to keep mixing the mixture until you start to see the liquid butter milk appear.

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You then need to wet your hands with cold water and keep squeezing the mixture letting which extracts more buttermilk.

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It is quite bizarre sensation but the mixture soon looks and feels like butter. It was then wrapped in greaseproof paper and popped in the fridge to set.

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The buttermilk was set to one side and was to be used as one of the ingredients for our Soda Bread. We all cleaned our hands and workstations before watching Gill demonstrate how to make the Soda Bread.

Next it was our turn and we started off with a bowl of flour and oats.

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We added all the ingredients that were on our workstation which included the blackberries we picked earlier, apples, goat’s cheese, herbs and of course the buttermilk.

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This was all gently mixed together before being moulded into a circular shape and popped on the baking tray where I added more cheese to the top and made a cross cut through the middle.

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The bread is baked in the oven at 200°C for 25 minutes.

Whilst it was cooking we watched Gill add flavour to his butter by laying herbs, salt and edible flowers on it and then rolling it which looked stunning when he had finished.

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Knowing my family’s taste I decided to just add salt to mine, but I was more than happy with the result.

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Butter back in the fridge it was then time to remove our bread from the oven and the whole room was filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread.

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I was really pleased with my Soda bread and homemade butter and it has encouraged me that I can can actually cook. Watch out family, I am about to start trying new things to bake!

I would love to do a full Cookery Course at River Cottage. Prices start from £135 and they run everything from Christmas baking to mushroom foraging, Meat Curing and Smoking to Cakes and Sweet Pastry and much, much more.

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