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10 bread making courses in Dorset

PUBLISHED: 10:20 19 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:20 19 April 2016

Steven Oxford (Photo by Katharine Davies)

Steven Oxford (Photo by Katharine Davies)


From cosy classes in domestic kitchens to lessons from award-winning Master Bakers, Dorset boasts some of the best bread making courses in the country, writes Sue Quinn

Oxfords Bakery

Fourth-generation artisan baker Steven Oxford’s family has run Oxfords Bakery since 1911 – and their bread making courses grow in popularity every year. Sourdough (taught by well-known Dorset baker Aidan Chapman), Italian (taught by television chef Isabella Franco) and Beautiful Buns (covering enriched dough and home baking) are all included on the tasty list of courses. Children especially love Steven’s pizza-making workshops. He proudly uses locally sourced ingredients wherever possible, and offers tea, coffee, lunch and lots of chat while you bake. As well as gaining masses of baking knowledge, you’ll take home loads of delicious bread.

Alweston, Sherborne, DT9 5JR; 01963 23214;

The Norwegian Bakery

Can’t walk past a cinnamon bun without drooling? Book yourself into this charming micro bakery and you’ll be able to whip up your own. Norwegian Anne-Marit Kvarstein Taylor teaches a range of courses in her cosy Southbourne kitchen, including a Norwegian one (£85) that will have you turning out specialties like cinnamon buns, rye bread and spelt, apple and walnut bread. Or go for the popular sourdough class (£95) that covers three types of bread – and includes a sourdough starter to take home. Each course runs from 10-3pm, and includes a delicious lunch with wine, recipes and baked goodies to take home, and lashings of genuine passion from Anne-Marit. Classes are generally limited to four but ask about courses for larger groups, or if you have a particular baking interest Anne-Marit will design a bespoke class for you.

Watcombe Road, Southbourne, Bournemouth BH6 3LU; 07787 553 093;

White Pepper Cookery School

Located in the original bakery at Bere Farm, this award-winning cookery school is passionate about artisan bread. Bread classes (£175) cover working with fresh yeast, making, using and maintaining a wild yeast ‘starter’, kneading, flavouring, proving, shaping and baking dough. Goodies you might tackle include carrot and rocket bread, Dorset beer bread, quick white sourdough and granary dinner rolls. Plus, you get a light lunch, a recipe pack and loaves to take home.

Bere Farm, Wareham Road, Lytchett Matravers, Poole, BH16 6ER; 01202 280050;

Panary Craft Baking

Try a day of mixing, kneading, proving and baking in a traditional working watermill with Master Baker, Paul Merry. Not only does he share his knowledge about the art and craft or baking, but also the science that’s hidden inside the dough. Courses include 1, 2 and 3-day options that include Basic, Italian, French and British loaves, pizza making and sourdough. If you’re considering a bread career, Paul offers a professional course and for total bread-heads a 4-day residential class in France will hit the spot. Classes are limited to six and start at £175 for a 1-day basic course. Much of the flour used in the courses is sourced from the mill.

Cann Mills, Shaftesbury SP7 0BL; 01747 851102;

Punch and Judy

An award-winning working bakery in Bridport forms the backdrop to bread-making classes here. Students mix, knead, prove and bake their way through a Saturday morning of sourdough, yeasted loaves, ciabatta and other popular breads. Numbers are limited in the small kitchen, which keeps classes intimate, and the owners pride themselves on never using preservatives or additives in their loaves. Sessions run from 8am-2.30pm and cost a very reasonable £85, which includes lunch and lots of bread to take home.

38 West Street, Bridport, DT6 3QP; 01308 423384;

River Cottage Cookery School

Rise to the challenge of building your own clay bread oven (Build & Bake), get to grips with gluten-free loaves (Gluten Free Cookery) or make sense of sourdough and yeasted loaves (Bread Making) – whatever your dough interest, this famous cookery school on the Dorset/Devon border has it covered. The philosophy at River Cottage is to give you the confidence to become master of your own bakery – and to ditch sliced loaves forever. To that end, the basic bread course teaches you how to make a simple loaf and adapt it in many different ways. Courses cost around £195 for the day and include a lunch comprising of what you’ve baked plus seasonal produce.

River Cottage HQ, Trinity Hill Road, Axminster, EX13 8TB; 01297 630300;

The Olive Tree Cookery School

Giuseppe Sinaguglia trained in Sicily and worked extensively in hotels throughout Italy before moving to the UK, so classes reflect his passion for Italian cookery. He warns you will need some serious muscle for the Pizza and Italian breads course (22 June 2016) which features foccacia, pizza and grissini. Set in the beautiful Purbeck hills, the school is perfect for foodies who want to combine cookery with a relaxing break in the glorious Dorset countryside.

The Old Barn, Cats Eye Cottage, Norden, Corfe Castle, BH20 5DT; 01929 477260;

Baking Excellence by Mark Bennett

There’s not much Mark Bennett doesn’t know about bread-making – he holds the Baker of the Year 2014 and Craft Bakery of the Year 2015 awards and a clutch of other gongs for dough mastery – so you’re learning from a maestro here. The daylong courses cover a range of different specialties including General Bakery (sourdough, croissant, scones, pizza and flaky pastry), French (sourdough/campagne bread/baguette/fougasse/brioche/croissants), as well as Italian, English and Patisserie. Courses cost £100 (check the website for times and dates) and include lunch and refreshments. Book early as Mark’s classes are extremely popular.

The Bakehouse, 256 Sandbanks Road, Poole, BH14 8HA; 07779 482 830;

Bournemouth and Poole College

At least one week of the six-week Hobby, Patisserie, Baking & Confectionery course at this acclaimed catering college is devoted to bread. You’ll make a variety of different loaves and rolls with different flavourings like mozzarella and blue cheese, for example, and be shown different shaping techniques. It’s a great way to experience cooking in a commercial kitchen and pick up professional tips along the way. Other weeks of the course cover pastry, cakes, puddings and confectionery – and you get a College Certificate at the end. Check the website for the dates and times of the next six week course.

North Road, Poole BH14 0LS; 01202 205205;

Hedgehog Bakery

The bucolic location of this bakery in Long Crichel is like something out of a Thomas Hardy novel. Students gain a unique insight into a working bakery, learning to make beautiful organic bread alongside the professional bakers who turn out the award-winning Hedgehog loaves. Bakery founder Jamie Campbell teaches in small groups so that everyone gets individual attention – he believes developing a feel for the dough is an essential part of making good bread. Classes cater for enthusiastic home bakers through to novices keen to take the plunge, and cover sourdough making, yeasted bread and pizza (which you gobble for lunch). Classes run 10.30am-4.30pm on Saturdays (check website for dates) and cost £145.

Long Crichel, Wimborne BH21 5JU; 01258 830852;


Eating out in Dorset - best restaurants - Whether you’re looking for fine dining, pub food, a romantic meal for 2 or a taste of something from further afield, eating out in Dorset really has something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs


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