It’s a wintry cold morning as I reach suburbia after a busy, frantic week at work. I’ve come to Harrington’s Kitchen with the hope that pounding some bread will alleviate the stress of the last week. Secretly, I see myself as a bit of a baking queen, so as I arrive I’m confident that I’ll find bread making will be as easy as cupcake creating.
Stephen Harrington’s kitchen is the sort that features in glossy magazines: vast, gleaming, minimalistic and full of delicious ingredients I can’t pronounce. By the time it comes to starting therefore I’m suddenly aware that my frantic, haphazard baking methods might be out of place here. There are just four of us on the course which gives me hope that I will soak in Stephen’s wisdom and leave a masterful baker even if I haven’t arrived one.
My other worry before starting this course was that it would be an observation-only lesson. When I was in Barcelona recently I paid through the teeth in order to go on a paella-making course only to spend two hours simply watching someone making my dinner. But within five minutes of stepping into Harrington’s Kitchen, my sleeves are rolled up and I’m elbow deep in dough attempting to master the perfect method for maximum air retention while kneading.
In Harrington’s words this is ‘bread-making made easy’: this ex-stockbroker now reformed bread maker has mastered the perfect technique for easy, successful breads in a variety of shapes and sizes. As well as this he comes with a lovely helper in the form of fiancé Roberta, who also teaches the pasta making course, who spends her time whizzing round the kitchen cleaning up and making coffees for whenever we want breaks from our tiring bread tossing.
After an hour I’m flicking bread dough around like a professional. And after three hours have whizzed past we’ve made enough bread for a small army and Roberta has made the table look like a fancy Italian delicatessen. As the final bread breaks we sip wine and discuss our favourite restaurants in London: this is a food lover’s paradise and I am transported to summer in an Italian kitchen as lunchtime approaches.
When the baking is done we sit down and enjoy a feast of fresh breads, salmon, cold meats, cheeses and freshly made pestos and salads. By the time we leave I feel sad to say goodbye to my fellow bread-makers. Harrington lives by the mantra that you make a lot of friends when you bake and that is certainly true. But further than that, as you discuss with your fellow bakers your passion for cooking, you find your spark for cooking renewed.
What can I say? These guys are great: friendly, passionate and accessible. I found not just a solution to getting rid of my work stress but also a new passion for great, homemade bread.
Tel: 020 8663 6737