It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on here, I feel awful for neglecting the blog as it’s such a huge part of my life. I’ve certainly missed it, but I’ve been busy attending a hen party, where I took my eton mess cheesecake and some champagne macarons – which were amazing. Followed by the wedding of the year for the best couple ever and a birthday lunch in Cambridge, where I was commissioned to make the cake, an Opera and I’ve just returned from a fabulous weekend in Suffolk.
So although I’ve not been active on here, I’ve been very busy behind the scenes, baking and having good times with loved ones. It’s also my birthday this week, I celebrated mainly by drinking hot ginger, honey and lemon, blowing into a tissue and tackling a big patch of grey hairs I found! Argh grey hairs at 34 and a cold! Life is so unfair.
A couple of weeks ago however, I was lucky enough to go to London with the boyfriend and experience a pizza making workshop arranged by Joseph Joseph and Bread Ahead Bakery founded by Matthew Jones and with Justin Gellatly as the head baker. It was so interesting, we made our own pre-ferment or poolish, which we used for our pizza dough, I learnt so many new tips, most of which are probably second nature to the more experienced breadmaker.
I don’t make a lot of bread, it’s actually one of the things I’m scared to attempt in the kitchen as it generally comes out a bit rubbish and never as nice as my expectations. We were taught all about the different types of yeast, that you should alter the temperature of your water to account for the seasons (i.e. cool in summer and warm in winter) and to use a shower cap to cover the bowl when proving your bread.
Making the pizza base was so easy, thanks to our tutor Manuel Monade. It only needed proving for around an hour and then we shaped the dough using a rolling pin and our hands, placed it on a chopping board dusted with polenta, so that you could easily slide the pizza into the oven to cook. We decorated it with tomato sauce and basic toppings, baked it in an oven heated to 250C for 6-10mins and it was ready to devour! I never knew it was such a quick process, I will definitely be giving this a try myself at home. It’d be a great thing to get the whole family involved in.
Joseph Joseph and Bread Ahead Bakery School are now working together on all of their courses, so if you attend a course at the bakery school, you’ll be lucky enough to use all of the fabulous Joseph Joseph products we got to try. There’s some fantastic stuff in the range.
We saved our pizza and took it with us for later, as our next stop of the day was Penny, a new cafe and bar area downstairs in The Old Vic Theatre. This is a wonderful space, with a Scandinavian feel to the decor and a comfortable relaxed atmosphere.
The staff immediately made us feel welcome and relaxed, they were attentive but we didn’t feel crowded and you could tell they were really passionate about this space of theirs. They knew where all of their ingredients were sourced and their menu recommendations were spot on.
The menu was small, but I liked that, I’m always a bit concerned when I go to a restaurant that offers a huge menu. How can they offer that many dishes and cook everything from fresh? The boyfriend had the ginger beef skewers and I had the griddled chicken with a delicious cashew satay. The food is all prepared by Trine Eriksen-Johnson who hails from Denmark and has worked for the likes of Daylesford Organic and Snaps & Rye.
Our food was delicious, the beef was tender and well spiced, the chicken was moist and the wild rice was perfectly seasoned. I washed mine down with a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc and the boyfriend had a Harviestoun Schiehallion, which is one of our favourite beers.
We were full after our lunch, so we declined dessert and just opted for coffees, however they kindly bought us a small selection of the cakes and baked goods they sell. These included a chocolate tiffin, an amazing gluten free brownie and a cake that was spiced with cinnamon and seeds.
After our treats we were invited to look around The Old Vic and Mark’s Bar. The stage was being renovated for a new show when we had a look round, it was great to see behind the scenes of the theatre and Mark’s Bar looked a fantastic spot for a pre-theatre tipple, or a late night drink.
We’ll definitely be back to watch a performance and grab another bite to eat. I cannot recommend Penny enough, I’m certain you wont be disappointed.
Thanks very much for reading and I’ll be back soon with some more patisserie.
***I was provided with a free place on the Joseph Joseph Bread Ahead Workshop and a free lunch from Penny, but all opinions are my own***