altrincham · cheshire · Events · Food and Drink · hale · health · lifestyle · Preview/Review · Uncategorized · wellbeing

One Mile Bakery Hale – best thing since sliced…well, you know.

I’ve always associated baking with cakes.

I’m not bothered about cakes as I’ve never had a sweet tooth – I’m all about the savoury.

I’ve never understood why I can’t just have a starter, main and then savoury again. Actually for that there is always cheese. And I am all about the cheese.

I don’t watch the ‘Great’ British Bake Off. I don’t consider it to be ‘great’. I certainly don’t consider Paul Hollywood to be ‘great’. I firmly believe that if you were to make firm eye contact with those steely blues, you’d be catapulted to the depths of a schmaltzy hell before you could say

Paul Hollywood isn’t ‘Great’…

Probably.

**Disclaimer – these are only the views of this writer. Plus I said ‘probably’ so, you know…**

I digress – but only ever so slightly.

But baking is not just cakes!

I hear you cry!

It is bread! Wonderful comforting, soft or crunchy, torn or toasted, taken neat or as a host for an accoutrement, bread is king, and baking is bread.

And so given my previous notion that ‘to bake is to cake’ (I know…), I had taken ‘me as baker’ off the table as a life skill.

That is until last week when One Mile Bakery Hale came into my life, leaving me with, indeed, a new skill, a feeling of inspiration and, most importantly, three wonderful loaves baked by my own floury hands!

Whilst One Mile Bakery Hale’s raison d’etre is two-fold (I will touch upon the first later – for those who just can’t wait, please read on here – come back please though), my focus is on their (spoiler) wonderful baking classes.

I’ve done a cookery class only once before. We all awkwardly stood round in a steel compound (industrial kitchen), nobody speaking, everybody giving each other’s pizza topping choices side-eye, followed by the most awkward lunch in living history as 20 of us ate our ‘masterpieces’ in silence.

The class I attended felt less lesson and more ‘get together and lunch with friends’.

As (well apparently loads of people according to Google search) said,

A stranger is just a friend you haven’t yet met

And whilst the socially awkward introvert in me would usually scoff at such an outlandish claim, the magic of One Mile Bakery Hale left this frightened mouse confident cynic enlightened.

Last Friday I attended Introduction To Baking alongside two other very lovely people and bread lovers.

The classes are held at the also very lovely home of Matt Townley, and right from the off I was made to feel less student, more friend invited over for lunch (and what a lunch – more later) and a spot of baking.

Asked whether any of us had baked before, aside from a one-off batch of cupcakes, I declared myself to be ‘the challenge’ – one which Matt duly met (he’s not afraid of a challenge – he plays for Bowdon RUFC, incidentally. His anecdote of a member of the opposing team leaving the field of play with an eyebrow hanging off will never quite leave me).

As I stood chatting , learning, kneading, mixing and basically baking with Matt et al (or whomever your al may be that day), my beginner’s nerves began to evaporate as the day went on.

Matt has a very natural ease about him, supporting and encouraging his company that all are bakers in the making and it’s all about following your instincts.

There is a clear passion for his craft from Matt and equally, (and obviously) from journalist turned baker Elisabeth Mahoney, who conceived of the wonderful concept that is One Mile Bakery back in 2012, and who I was fortunate to meet that day.

The first One Mile Bakery was based in Cardiff, the basis of the business being a service which bakes and creates ‘artisan bread, seasonal soup and delicious preserves’ and delivers them to customers by bike, all residing within one mile.

Recent additions, Exeter and indeed our very own Hale do indeed follow this premise, along with bringing classes to the masses (I should add that each class is held with only a handful of bakers to ensure intimacy and that personal touch – I just wanted to go a bit tabloid and rhyme ‘classes’ with ‘masses’).

However, both Elisabeth and Matt were keen to stress that whilst Elisabeth shares the ethos of One Mile Bakery, provides a guiding light and practical advice, each baker in literal residence, so to speak, takes the baton (or breadstick? baguette?) and is free to run with it, injecting his or her personality into matters along the way.

This not only includes the way they bake and cook, and the ingredients they grow, source and select, but in the way they conduct their cookery classes.

And so back to that fateful day (how ominous sounding – I love a bit of drama).

Amidst anecdotes of eyebrow extraction and my own pretentious tale of my husband and I nearly filing for divorce over a tense homemade ravioli stuffing session one afternoon (overstuffed indeed), we learned to bake three loaves; a classic white tin loaf, an organic seeded wholemeal and a French pain de campagne (that is, country loaf).

Provided with our own scrapers (forgive me Matt, this may not be its technical term but I’m still on a comedown from being allowed to take it home – I’m deadly serious), ingredients, bowls and places at the lovely kitchen island, we each learned the importance of taking charge of the dough and not being afraid to gently but firmly take it in literal hand and mix, pull and shape it until risen, proved (proven?) and ready to take its seat in the oven.

I loved Play Doh as a child and needed (no poorly executed pun intended – well maybe a little) encouragement to get my fingers dirty.

That said, when it came to flipping my dough over or into a tin or basket, or deciding that my rising wasn’t quite as ‘risey’ as my fellow learners, more reassurance and encouragement was provided immediately putting paid to my wobbly bottom lip, and all was well with the world, once again.

Equally important to the skills we were provided with that day, was the hospitality also bestowed upon us.

Not only were we provided with elevenses in the shape of some of Matt’s own toasted bread and preserves, but lunch too.

The vibrant dancing, summer aesthetics of the dishes laid before us were equally matched by the flavours and as we all sat round Matt’s family dining table breaking bread and chatting (even his gorgeous cat Poppy popped by to say hi), it was easy to forget we weren’t just all enjoying a leisurely lunch at a friend’s house (this temporary memory loss was down to the friendly and comfortable scene, not the 2 glasses of crisp and delicious Sauvignon Blanc I enjoyed).

Man of the match for me – Matt’s glorious watercress soup.

Now I won’t go into all the nuances and practical stages of the baking as I urge you to head along and find these out yourself.

What I will say that over 5 hours (including time taken to eat all that delicious food and laugh lots along the way), I went from bread consumer to bread baker and utterly astounded myself by producing this bounty…

Reader? I’ve not stopped banging on about it since. And it tasted delicious! My bread!Me! Ok, One Mile Bakery Hale had something to do with it.

And given that Matt’s delivery list is currently full (keep an eye out ready to pounce for a place), I feel fortunate that I have the tools (metaphorically speaking but also with reference to my new ‘scraper’), to keep my household in at least three different loaves myself.

I also wish to point out that if you’re lucky enough to get on Matt’s delivery route, all packaging is 100% plastic free – delivery bags, soup containers and garnish pots are not only totally recyclable but 100% compostable too.

And so, on the list or not, with a number of different classes available including French Baking, Introduction to Sourdough and Italian Baking, I urge you to follow my lead and try one out.

Inspired is not the word. Well it is, it just feels understated.

It’s no exaggeration to say that if I can do it, anyone can!

Waste not a second more and head to the One Mile Bakery Hale website here.

Ps I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to sort out the autocorrect which arrogantly changed matters to One Mike Bakery Hale, so if you seen any I’ve missed please shout out.

altrincham · Food and Drink · health · lifestyle · Uncategorized · wellbeing

Ice cold in Alty

It’s been weeks now.

I’ve coughed my way round Altrincham, sniffed my way round Hale, erm…eye-streamed my way round…Bowdon?

It’s colds season and I’m really being spoiled this year.

You’re supposed to just wait it out, deal with the symptoms but I’m over this and want to get over it.

I’m terrible at being a cold sufferer. I wince at paracetamol as I’m terrible at swallowing tablets, gip (it’s a word) when drinking anything dissolvable, and I won’t blow my nose. I know. I struggle with it though, don’t understand the mechanics and find it awful. I try, but I can’t (I also can’t tie my shoelaces in the traditional sense but one blog post based embarrassing confession at a time, eh?).

Yes, I’m the phantom sniffer on the Alty to Manchester tram each morning. Honorary Manc wrote a blog post on tram commuters and the tribes to be found last year (yep that’s me) but she (me) neglected to include sniffers (also me)…

Added to this, I haven’t done dry January, Veganuary (although I did for 3 days before I forgot and ate a sausage roll), or indeed any other ‘anuary.

So I need help. And I need to start with banishing this cold and getting my body back to something that resembles healthy and untouched by the festive season.

To randomly paraphrase tantric-centric Sting, I’ve sent an SOS to the world (well Timperley), and have received a helping hand from the Urban Based Herbalist, Marie Mulcahy:

Urban Based Herbalist

Marie has shared some pearls of wisdom and remedies and for anyone else suffering from a combination of a drop in temperatures, over-exposure to central heating, the excesses of food and drink and all round post-Christmas misery, we can try Marie’s remedies together…

You can’t get rid of a cold overnight. A cold or flu is part of the body’s defence healing mechanism all the symptoms sneezing, sweating, and coughing is the body trying to get rid of the bacteria and or virus that has invaded it. You can help relieve the symptoms herb ally by using the following approaches:

Tisane foot bath and well being drink

Dunk your feet in a strong infusion of the following herbs. Fresh or dried or as a last resort tinctures use 5ml of each herb of from a good health food shop.

If fresh leaf three teaspoons, if dried two teaspoons of the following:

Peppermint, garlic (crushed) Echinacea, thyme and rosemary. Make a strong infusion by pouring boiling water over the herbs. Let It stand for 3o mins with a cover on top this will bring all the essential oils and the active plant ingredients out of the herbs. When cool enough to put your feet in pour into a bowl with the tisane and steep your feet for 10-15 mins. Do three times a day.

Also the above mix can be made up and put in a flask and drunk throughout the day as an herb tea. Every two to four hours a cup.

Fire mix for a sore throat

Two teaspoons of dried sage leaves.

200ml of boiling water

Small sliced cayenne pepper

Or a pinch of dried chilli powder

Two tablespoons of the best honey you can afford raw or Manuka best as it has the most antibacterial, anti-viral properties.

Pinch of sea salt.

A table spoon of apple cider vinegar organic is key.

Mix sage and Cayenne or chilli powder in jug pour over the water leave to infuse for 10-15 mins add the salt and great for killing off infection add honey and vinegar and stir well and gargle three times a day also you can put it cold into a small spray bottle that you can use throughout the day to spray on the back of your throat.

Take warm baths with Epsom salts not too hot

General tips

Don’t do a fierce work out your body need to re-cuperate. That’s why the Victorians used to take a period of covalence as they knew the body needed time to rest.

You can do gently exercise such as yoga or Pilates.

Don’t try and exercise till you stop, streaming, coughing etc. it only prolongs the recovery process.

Do not do a fierce gym work out or hard running etc. with a bad cold or flu you will exhaust your body when it needs the rest.

To rebuild your immunity and as a prevention look at adaptogens such as ashwaganda. Adaptogens (all good herbalists can take you through their use or a good health food shop) help the body deal with stress. The less stressed you are the less likely you are to be hit by a cold or flu.

Finally, and this is one we all know…

Prevention is better than cure.

We can do this and it will be March before we know it.

A progress report will duly follow and for those who are interested in more from the Urban Based Herbalist, click here

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