International Women's Day - Celebrating some of our amazing female bakers!
Anna Hodgson – Anna’s at the Barn, Milton-under-WychwoodFirst, tell is a bit about yourself and how you got into baking?
Having initially trained in the hospitality industry many, many years ago, I spent 20 years working as a PA for small and large corporate companies. Then when my daughter was born 11 years ago I gave up my PA work and started making cakes for her birthday, and then family & friends, and it grew from there. Baking is my therapy. In fact I designed my new kitchen around my love of baking.
What’s your favourite thing about baking?
My favourite thing about baking is watching other people eating what I’ve made. I get a massive amount of love and satisfaction listening to other people making the ‘mmmm’ sounds, and hearing ‘wow this is yummy’ To see children’s faces when they see their bespoke cake they’ve designed themselves and now it’s in front of them AND it taste good too is incredible. There’s nothing better.
Where do you get ideas for your cake decorating?
Friends send me ideas, they send me pictures of what they’d like and I do my interpretation of it. Most of the people I follow on social media are all baking based, I love looking at pictures of stunning cakes trying to work out how I can do it too. There are so many cakes out there I’d love to try but I don’t or I’d be the size of a house!
Is there anything you haven’t made yet that you want to try?
I’ve got lots I’d like to try, I don’t know where to start! My macarons have been a bit of a disaster, my meringues need practise, I love being given a challenge.
What are your must use baking tools in the kitchen?
My favourite pieces of equipment in my kitchen are my Kenwood Chef and my Thermomix. Having a good oven is important too but not without great ingredients, especially the flour!
Where can our readers find out more about you and see some of your bakes?
You can follow me on instagram, search for anna_baking_with_love
Elaine Boddy – Foodbod SourdoughTell us about yourself and how you got into Sourdough Baking?
I’m first and foremost a proud and happy wife and a Mum; my son has just turned 20 and is my proudest ever achievement. In 2013 I decided I wanted to learn how to make my favourite type of food, Middle Eastern, and I started a food blog to chart my progress. I soon discovered that I had joined a wonderful worldwide community of home cooks and bakers blogging what they were making in their home kitchens and as a result creating life long friendships and a worldwide support network through their love of food. Many of these food bloggers were woman, and many of them are the friends I talk to daily still.
One of them sent me some dried starter and a page of instructions and challenged me to make sourdough. I’d never heard of sourdough, had no idea what it was, had never eaten any or even seen a sourdough loaf. But through my blog I had discovered a fearlessness in my kitchen and cooking endeavours that I never knew I had, so I had a go, and wow, it was amazing! And that was it, I got the bug. I tried various ways and methods, I baked some frisbees and some bricks, but luckily lots of successful loaves too, and I learned so much with each dough and bake. I finally landed on my way of doing things and my master recipe was born.
Luckily my son is a huge bread fan and loved that first loaf too and wanted me to make more, so I’ve always had a willing sourdough eater and taste tester!
What advice would you give someone starting out making Sourdough?
It’s truly simpler than you think. There’s a lot of over complicated processes out there, with many unnecessary steps, and none of it is necessary. I keep everything simple and straightforward, and that’s all it needs to be.
I would also recommend choosing one single source to learn from, resist the temptation to read endless information about sourdough as you will get overwhelmed and it can get confusing. Find a source you like and stick with it whilst you learn.
How did your books come about?
I was contacted out of the blue by the lady who has since become my editor. It was amazing and unexpected and I am still stunned and eternally grateful.
Where can people purchase your books from?
My books are available from many online sources, including Amazon, The Book Depository, EcoBakerUK, Hive, Blackwells and many others.
What is your favourite Matthews Cotswold Flour to use and why?
I love Churchills white, it’s good quality, consistent and performs perfectly for making sourdough. I do also LOVE Cotswold Crunch and the Eight Grain flour, and many more of the range, in fact my list is probably endless. The whole range is great, I recommend it to everyone!
What are your ‘must haves’ in the kitchen?
My 2 ovens are a must! And also lots of counter space. But also I love all of my sourdough making apparatus, my digital scales, perfectly sized mixing bowls, my baking pans, bannetons, lames, the list is endless to be honest, but also flour, lots of flour, and my jars of seeds and nuts and grains and spices.
My kitchen is ‘my’ space, it’s where I love to be, it’s where I am happiest.
Agnieszka Jozwiakowska – Test Baker, Matthews Cotswold FlourHow did you get into Baking at Matthews Cotswold Flour?
Well, I decided to change something in my job, I needed a challenge. So, on my job review I offered that I could be the test baker, because we needed one at that time. My boss agreed and this is how I got into baking. And baking can be challenging 😊.
What are your favourite successful bakes?
Do you prefer sweet or savoury baking?
Sweet of course! 😊
What inspires you to bake?
At the moment it’s internet, beautiful photos of bakes on FB, IG and YouTube. Spending one day in a bakery can be very inspiring, to see how it works from the backstage. But I think that the most inspiring thing is the face, that people like my bakes no matter if it’s bread or cake
What are your ‘must haves’ in the Matthews Cotswold Flour test bakery?
Besides flour, tins, bowls etc. My best friend in our test bakery is our standing mixer and dutch oven
What is your favourite Matthews Cotswold Flour and why?
It’s a difficult question for me, depends on what I have to bake. But the flour that surprised me the most is the Tipo 00. It produces a beautiful bread, with a pale straw coloured (yellowish) crumb. On the other hand Canadian makes bread buns, exactly like the ones from my childhood. Really touch choice!
What is your biggest challenge in baking?
Baguettes and sourdough bread.
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