The Bread Workshop was my introduction to The Food Connection, I love bread, and most food in general so I was really looking forward to the evening getting started.
As people arrived, they said their hellos and began setting up their pot-luck contribution on the long table. Most seemed to be familiar with The Food Connection, but as I chatted, I discovered that there were also a few “newbies”, like myself. A very friendly and welcoming group though, it must be said.
Once the food had been set up, we all introduced ourselves and explained the dish we brought for the potluck, as a means of breaking the ice. I brought cupcakes as I’m a big fan of dessert of any description. I won’t take credit for making them, though. There was a feast of dishes to choose from and I had to make a second trip to the table to make sure I tried a little of as many offerings as I could manage.
The four bread panellists who would be discussing different types of bread later in the evening had brought some loaves for us to try out ahead of time and people had brought hummus and other spreads to accompany them. Each of the dishes I had room on my plate to try was delicious, but I have to admit that the soup and the banana bread stood out.
Once the potluck portion of the evening wrapped up, three of the four tables in the room received a tray with a large bowl, a measuring cup and a measuring spoon. The fourth table was designated as the “chopping station”. We were going to learn how to make Irish Soda Bread, authentically directed by Danielle, who is Irish. One table would make a plain loaf, one would make a savoury and the third table would make a sweet loaf. The “Chopping Station” would be in charge of preparing the fruit and lemon zest for the sweet loaf and the garlic and rosemary for the savoury. We all shared the ingredients around and the whole process took about 10-15 minutes. It was very quick. I wish I’d known it was that easy! It was also a lot of fun. Everyone at my table took a small part in measuring and mixing the ingredients. It was explained that Soda Bread gets its name from the Bicarbonate soda, or Baking soda, used as a leavening agent instead of yeast.
While the Soda bread was baking in the oven, we heard from the four bread panellists, mentioned earlier, who described the bread they had made, how they had made it and they gave us tips and tricks for making variations and also things to be careful of or avoid when making their chosen type of bread.
We also learned a bit of history behind the breads. There was a Danish Rye, a Gluten-free seed bread (which I can personally vouch for as being both interesting and tasty) and two “No Knead” breads. It was later discovered that one of the gentlemen explaining the No Knead bread makes bread for a living! I enjoyed each one of the talks and found them to be very informative.
Next came the Moment of Truth. Our Soda Bread loaves were ready and Danielle brought them all out and sliced them for us to try. Just before the loaves went into the oven, we marked each of them with a cross which makes it easier to rip the bread apart when cooked -- literally “Breaking Bread”.
I had a great evening meeting new people, trying different dishes during the potluck supper and learning all about bread. I will most definitely be checking the Food Connection’s website for new workshops.
Now that I’ve got Irish Soda Bread checked off my culinary “To Learn” list, next is the stew to accompany it!
If you want to make these easy delicious breads at home, pop by our Recipe page, and check out the photos from the event!