Originally, I had signed up for this class with the Missus last year but the class has to be postponed due to the unavailability of the chef as he had to undergo a back surgery. It was only now (May 2018) that we managed to coincide the class schedule and our availability.
Baking is more of the Missus thing than mine – I am more into cooking savory dishes but I was interested to learn how to make a proper pizza (which obviously has a element of baking in it; my previous pizza making experience was restricted to using a “Jamie Oliver” recipe for quick pizzas where the dough has no yeast added to it). The Missus had previously attended a Tarts Baking class at the same cooking school before and was interested to learn more about baking bread. So that’s how we ended up signing for this baking class.
We arrived early for the class and was served tea/coffee while we waited for the rest of the course mates to arrive. We were given our course materials (recipes and some marketing brochures) and aprons for the class.
There were a total of 10 participants for the day’s baking class, including a couple of 11-year old boys and the mum of one of the boys. There were a couple of ladies who had attended other previous baking classes from the same school before; obviously, they were more experienced and confident in making their bread dough; but there were also a few “newbies” like me, including the two 11-year old kids. So it does not matter if you have no prior baking experience; you will still be able to pretty much catch on to the techniques of making the pizza and flat bread.
The class was conducted by Chef Jenna and was basically split into two sections:-
- Pizza making before the lunch break
- Flat Bread baking after the lunch break
The practical reason for that is that the class participants are expected to eat the pizzas they made in class for lunch. So if it does not taste good, you have only your self to blame. But really, one can hardly go wrong with fresh out-of-the oven pizza and good quality ingredients. Plus the chef/instructor will be on hand to help ensure your pizza will turn out fine. So no worries that you will go hungry.
We made two kinds of pizza – the standard bakery style pizza and the folded type (a “calzone”). Two type of sauce was provided – a white herb pesto sauce and a more traditional tomato sauce. We did not have to make the sauce from scratch but Chef Jenna did briefly explain how you can go about making them. Or if you think that’s too much work, I guess store bought ones will also work fine. Standard pizza toppings provided include – smoked salmon, parma ham, salami, olives, cheddar cheese, mozarella cheese ball, red/yellow bell peppers, smoked ham and roasted aubergines. Basically, you can pretty much go with any toppings you like, limited only by your own imagination.
One of the more unique thing we learnt in the class is the special bread dough kneading technique which apparently was developed by Dean Brettschnieder – the “boss” of the cooking school. It is very different from what I normally see on Youtube watching other bakers/chefs knead their dough.
We also prepared the dough for the flat bread before lunch to allow time for the yeast to do its work while we have lunch.
We only have the bakery style pizza for lunch; the calzones, which takes a longer time to bake, we were expected to bring home. Chef Jenna also combined all the leftover pizza dough from all the class participants and made a few big pizzas with different toppings for the course participants to bring home.
The Missus and I only managed to eat one and a quarter pizza and have to “doggy bag” the rest. They also served red and white wines for lunch, in addition to the standard coffee/tea, orange juice and water.
After the lunch break, we continued with the bread making session using the dough which we had prepare earlier:
- focaccia bread – which comes with a combination of toppings – fresh cherry tomatoes, caramelized garlic, raw onions, rosemary and pesto sauce
- Stromboli – which is rolled-up bread with a apple cinnamon and chocolate chips fillings; but you can also do it with other types of fillings like sultanas, nutella spread, jams etc.
- Grissini – which is just flavored bread sticks; we were provided with dried herbs, sesame seeds, chili flakes; again, one can use any types of toppings to make the Grissini
It was good fun learning to make pizzas and bread with the Missus – one thing to note – as we were two participants in the class, we ended up having bags load of bread/pizzas to bring home from the class. We ended up having to give away some of it to our neighbours and sharing some with groups of friends.
What I liked is that the class size is small, so there’s enough opportunities to ask questions to the Chef, get any doubts clarified and also get some one-on-one coaching from the instructor, if needed ( needed it to improve my kneading technique). Also, you do not have to have any prior baking experience for this class, so any “newbies” (like me) will not feel lost..
My experience in the baking class was a good, but it sort of reinforced my view that baking is less forgiving (as compared to cooking); one need to be more precise and exact in the steps and quantities used in the baking recipes otherwise it will turnout to be a disaster; whereas with normal cooking, one can adjusts and make changes during the cooking process so the end product is still pretty acceptable (even if its not brilliantly good). The course mates you have in the class will also shaped your overall experience – fun loving but considerate classmates will enhance one’s learning and make the overall experience a memorable one. But to make the most of the class, you do need to practice making the bread – as Chef Jenna emphasis in the class.
Date Attended: 26 May 2018
Location: Brettschnieder’s Baking & Cooking School
1 Greendale Ave, Singapore 289495