After an oh-so delicious session making our own focaccia and delicious sourdough pizzas at Brettschneider’s Baking & Cooking School (from the team behind Baker & Cook), we are now total baking buffs!
A few weeks ago, the Sassy Mama staff was lucky to come together for what was by far our most delicious team activity yet: a baking course at Brettschneider’s Baking & Cooking School. Ever since our foodie news flash columnist Beate wrote about the school when it opened last year I’d been dying to try my hand(s) at one of Baker & Cook maestro Dean Brettschneider’s famous bread-making classes, and this did not disappoint!
Located around the corner from Baker & Cook’s flagship location at Greendale Avenue in Bukit Timah, the standalone Baking & Cooking school is like the kitchen of your dreams, kitted out with schmick appliances from the likes of Fisher & Paykel, Kenwood, Scanpan, and gorgeous white quartz countertops from Silestone Spain. And of course the best part is, it’s sparkling clean and you don’t have to worry one bit about cleaning up your mess!
Upon entry we were greeted by one of our lovely instructors, Helen, who offered to make everyone a coffee, tea, or juice of their choice. There were also yummy cookies on the table, too, because we weren’t going to be gorging ourselves on carbs or anything…
Helen teamed up with one of Baker & Cook’s head bakers, a no-nonsense Kiwi pastry chef named Jenna, to teach us the ins and outs of making our own focaccia from start to finish. They provided all the ingredients (just flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, and cold water), then took us through the steps for kneading and tending to our dough.
As an amateur home baker who particularly loves making homemade pizza dough, I was really eager to get professional insights on better baking in our humid climate, and Jenna really delivered.
For one, she advised us to put the water in the fridge at least an hour before to get it super cold. She also made it clear that sticky dough is ok – there’s no need to add extra flour, because if you’re patient and follow their advised kneading schedule (knead about five times at 2 minutes each, with 1-minute rest periods in between), dough will naturally smooth out. I couldn’t believe it, but she was right!
She also showed us a fab kneading technique (grab-slap-stretch) that was unlike anything I’d ever tried before – and far less tiring than my usual kneading style!
While we let our beautiful dough balls rest for an hour in pre-oiled bowls, we got to make our own lunch with pre-made sourdough pizza dough from Plank (Dean Brettschneider’s precious sourdough starter is more than 25 years old!).
Jenna once again advised on pizza dough stretching techniques – I never knew you were supposed to flip it over after stretching it out! – and also plied us with delicious toppings like fresh mozzarella, a variety of sauces and jams, and yummy meats. After a quick eight minutes or so in the oven, we were treated to personal pizzas with pillowy soft crusts and truly flavorful toppings, all far less greasy than your average pie.
While we enjoyed our pizzas (I could have very easily eaten my entire pie, but restrained myself to three quarters – don’t judge!), some of the team also indulged with lovely glasses of New Zealand wine – it’s all part of the baking course package!
By then it was time to check on our focaccia dough, which we then gently “knocked back” by folding it upon itself, deflating and strengthening it all at once. While it rested for another 30 minutes, we prepared our fresh focaccia toppings, including sliced tomatoes, rosemary, and the Baking & Cooking School’s absolutely stunning garlic soaked in balsamic (which I now want on top of everything I ever cook!).
Helen and Jenna showed us how to flatten the dough into an oblong shape, then use our fingertips to make little divots for the water and olive oil we then sprinkled on top after pressing in our other toppings. After a bit more rest, we popped our babies in the oven for about 20 minutes and Voila! Absolutely stunning loaves of focaccia that we couldn’t wait to tear into (that is, if we hadn’t already filled up with yummy pizza, cookies and wine).
I’m happy to report that we all took our focaccia home and it received unanimously rave reviews from our grateful partners and kids (my husband loved it so much he ate the remnants for breakfast the next morning!). A couple of my colleagues have since replicated the recipe (handily included in our info packs) at home, with once again stunning results.
We basically did an abbreviated hybrid of two of the school’s most popular courses, “Basic Bread Making” and “Italian Flatbreads & Pizza Making” – each course is priced at $245 and runs from 10am to 4pm and includes the aforementioned lunch, wine, coffees and snacks throughout the day. I was amazed at how the time flew by, to be honest; Jenna and Helen were absolutely delightful to speak with (they answered every question we had about baking and cooking with such knowledge and authority!) and it was great getting to see all my colleagues’ handiwork.
The Baking & Cooking School offers a huge range of courses, starting at just $100 for a 3-hour Kids’ Baking Class (they also do birthday parties, by the way!). If you’re looking for a cool way to keep little hands busy over the school holidays (with the added bonus of delicious cake, pizza, and cookies for them to bring home – I’ll take that over art projects any day of the week), I can’t think of anything better, mama.
Other than the probably five pounds or so I gained over the course of the day, there was seriously nothing but upside to our day of baking at Brettschneider’s. Whether you’re looking for a fun weekend activity to spend with friends, a cool Father’s Day gift for culinarily-inclined papas, or have a helper keen to hone her baking skills, everyone will enjoy these classes, mama!
Brettschneider’s Baking & Cooking School, 1 Greendale Avenue, Singapore 289495, Tel: (+65) 6463 5508