Slow Food Bakery Class with Matt Smith

I belong to the Slow Food Cotswold Convivium, and this week our fearless leaders, cheese expert Juliet Harbutt and business woman Julia Briggs, organised a bread making class at The Cotswold School, in Bourton-on-the-Water ( A group of a dozen Slow Foodies came to the school one evening to see Matt Smith, one of the teachers at the school, and me, making our favourite breads.

Matt has been a technology and design teacher at The Cotswold School for eight years, and his foodie family background has inspired him to pass on his skill and knowledge to the 1100 children in the school. His father is a retired chef and catering lecturer and this has had a great influence on Matt, who is passionate that all young children should be taught to cook, from as early an age as possible. He told me how fulfilling it is for him when youngsters come back to school after the holidays and tell him about how they used his recipes at home. The children at the school can learn a variety of cooking skills, from bakery, knife skills, food preparation to British and international cuisine. At GCSE point the children themselves decide whether they wish to continue with the subject, and many do. In recognition of the great linguistic, scientific, artistic, musical and design achievements here, this school has been designated Academy status. The motto of the school is “Friendship and Knowledge”.

If every school in the land had a teacher of Matt Smith’s calibre designing, developing and implementing the Curriculum, I am sure many of the health problems facing youngsters today would not exist. It is very rare to find a school that places cookery and food education at the core of curricular studies with such enthusiasm.

The food technology classroom is very spacious, clean and well equipped. The children have to prepare and look after their own wash stations, and all the equipment is laid out in orderly rows on trolleys, or in the numerous cupboards that line the walls. Ovens are gas fired and there are colourful posters covering all the walls, highlighting nutritional information and health and hygiene principles.

Matt demonstrated a very handy no-knead  recipe called “The Doris Grant Loaf”. Doris Grant was a 1940’s home economist who believed that we should all eat wholemeal bread, as it is far more nutritious. That must have been quite a hard message to convey, as many people preferred white flour during that period in history. One day she did not have time to knead her bread dough, so she just proved it and baked it. The result was delicious, as we were going to find out about an hour later. As Matt demonstrated, all the Slow Food members took part, mixing and watching at the same time, Matt making everyone laugh with his cheeky sense of humour. Some added sunflower or poppy seeds to their mix, and while the dough was left to prove in the little baking tins, I showed my favourite 5 day focaccia and rich, buttery egg dough from my Italian repertoire.

The evening was a great success, with charcuterie, olives, hams, pates and jams handed round at the end for everyone to enjoy. The Doris Grant loaf was declared an absolute find, and I am still enjoying mine two days later, toasted for breakfast with homemade Seville orange marmalade.

Joining Slow Food enables all foodies across the country to come together, learn, share and enjoy good, clean, fair food. If you wish to become a member, and would like to find out more, then click onto:

Here is the bread recipe for you to make at home. Many thanks to all that took part, and God bless Matt Smith, Slow Food and Doris Grant!

Recipe for the Doris Grant Loaf

Ingredients for 450g. loaf

450g. wholemeal or spelt flour

1 tsp. brown sugar or honey

1/2 sachet easy blend yeast (you can use fresh yeast if you can find it)

2 tsp. sea salt

1tbsp. olive oil or melted butter

420ml. warm water


1. Mix the flour with the sugar or honey, yeast and 2 tsp. salt.

2. Stir in the oil or the butter and 420 ml. of water, to make a loose, sticky dough.

3. Scrape the dough into a greased 450g. loaf tin.

4. Cover the dough loosely with greased clingfilm, and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, until the dough has risen by one third.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

6. When the dough has risen, place it in the prepared baking tin.

7. Bake the bread for half an hour. Slip the bread loaf out of the tin and check that the base sounds hollow when tapped. If not, give the dough another 5 -10 minutes in the oven. Cool on a rack when ready.

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