French & Italian breads

In this 6 hour hands-on class we usually manage to make four breads from: fougasses, focaccia, croissants, baguettes, biscotti and we snack from the start; all of them are delicious straight from the oven.You will learn how to handle and shape very moist doughs, some with oil, some without. These wet doughs also suit kneading techniques different from the usual heel of the hand method.


Unlike the fougasse, baguette and focaccia doughs croissants use a stiff cold dough so that the butter doesn't melt when we get around to adding it. The dough needs to be cooled repeatedly through to stop the butter from being absorbed into the dough. There is a helpful diagram to remind you of the layering and folding. If there is time in class we can try making bears' claws with marzipan filling.

Focaccia or Bigger focaccia

Easy and quick, focaccia is full of flavour, traditionally olives and rosemary, but parmesan, sea salt flakes, sundried tomatoes, chilli, garlic, peppers are all good. Focaccia dough has a lot of olive oil added in stages. It's important not to add it all at the beginning because this would stop the gluten from developing.

Wee baguettes

The trick is to use a really wet dough but not so wet you can't handle it once it is proved. The moist dough is what develops these lovely holes you fill with butter/jam etc.


The type of Italian biscuit usually associated with the name biscotti is really a twice baked soda bread with sweet additions. They are easy to make and open to experimentation. The image at bottom left shows the little biscotti loaf after its first bake being sliced ready to be baked for another ten minutes.


Really pretty. This is a bread which gets the maximum crust into the minimum space. It is best eaten as soon as it is cool enough not to burn you because it really really doesn't keep. Goes well with dips like olive oil/balsamic vinegar.

Pizza using an overnight sponge

My favourite pizza recipe starts the evening before with a poolish mix and isn't ready till late afternoon the following day however there is very little work involved. The dough uses strong flour and plain flour mixed 50/50 to emulate pizza flour. It stays very moist which makes it a little difficult to handle at first. With a light touch and plenty of additional flour when we are shaping we will be fine! What more can I say about pizza - just that your own will be better than anyone elses, and will be exactly how you like them. Easy, cheap, quick. Asparagus pizza as shown opposite is one of my favourites.

breadinfife logo focaccia asparagus pizza biscotti wee baguettes