There is something magical about mixing together flour, salt, yeast and water and hey presto producing a lovely loaf of bread, so perhaps it’s not so strange that a Croatian magician should be baking bread in his garden shed in a village north of Oxford.
Dragen Matijevic, the magician, and his wife Penny Williams, a copywriter, live in Wolvercote. When they were looking for a way to recession-proof their careers they decided to have a go at bread making. Now they run a successful bakery, Love Loaves from what is possibly the world’s smallest kitchen, a 2 x 2 metre shed from where they bake bread for their local village shop.
If you hanker after the same, you can join a residential weekend bread making course in Herefordshire on 4-6 November where you will bake yeast loaves, sourdough loaves, Croatian bread baked under a metal bell and learn the secrets of running a boutique commercial bakery from home in what they call ‘The Mini Bakery Blueprint’.
I haven’t been so can’t vouch for the course but at £295 it seems a remarkably good value package for meals, accommodation and the possible kernel of a new career.
Accommodation is at Chanstone Court Farm, a working farm in the Golden Valley, a beautiful slice of Herefordshire countryside. It belongs to friends of friends of ours, Ellie and David Parker.
Ellie is a former restaurateur (at Effy’s in Hay on Wye and Hereford, which made the Good Food Guide) so the food should certainly be good. It starts with supper and wine on the Friday night, bread making all day Saturday including a ‘Bakery Blueprint’ session followed by a candlelit dinner in the evening. Sunday is for sourdough and bell bread baked in an outdoor oven by the lake. Take in a woodland walk and then go home with a basket of your own bread and lots of insider knowledge.
The course can take eight people and accommodation is in two double and two twin rooms in the farmhouse.